Novell officials are the first ones to tell you they've made significant advances in the company's network operating system with last week's release of NetWare 5.0.
But in the same breath, the officials admit that customers are not likely to take advantage of many of the advanced security, Java and directory features in the new release - at least not right away.
Users are unlikely to put these features to use immediately upon installing their NetWare 5.0 servers because there is currently a dearth of applications on the market that can take advantage of these improvements.
Specifically, features included in NetWare 5.0 that the company claims to be ahead of their time are:
The ability to administer dynamic IP client and host addresses via Novell Directory Services (NDS).
Support for Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) Version 3.
The capacity to run server-side Java applications.
The ability for NDS to store X.509 certificates, which are expected to be a key part of customers' public key infrastructure (PKI)-based security schemes.
Novell has included these features in NetWare 5.0 as a way of "seeding the market", says Michael Simpson, Novell director of product marketing. "Our customers probably won't use these features for quite a while. But if we put them in NetWare 5.0, when customers are ready to use [PKI, server-side Java or LDAP Version 3] in a year or two, we can say 'You're soaking in it!', " Simpson says.
He contends there is no downside to putting these features into NetWare now because they do not tax the server or affect network performance while inactive.
Todd Chipman, an analyst with Giga Information Group, says Novell's "seeding" technologies will have little impact on NetWare 5.0 sales. "These extras will be nice to have at some point way down the road," he says. "But the bottom line for NetWare 5.0 sales is going to be the native IP support and things like memory protection that will help make these NetWare 5.0 machines better for running business applications. That's the type of thing Novell should be pushing."