NetWare 5.1 unlikely to break Windows dominance

NetWare 5.1 unlikely to break Windows dominance

Even with its Web emphasis, the newest version of NetWare appears unlikely to stem the erosion of usage that Novell's operating system is facing amid a pounding from Windows, users and analysts said.

Novell officials said this week that NetWare 5.1 will be available in mid-January at prices starting at $US95 per node for its largest upgrading customers. The software includes a variety of Web application software, including Oracle's 8i database and IBM's WebSphere application server and a Java virtual machine. Analysts have said the package is Novell's best attempt yet to make NetWare an application platform.

But while NetWare users respect the technology, many say they won't adopt it.

The reason for the switch from NetWare to Windows is that the company's developers insisted on moving to Windows, Klein said. Novell has never attracted legions of developers to NetWare while Microsoft has put its well-regarded Visual Studio tools in the hands of millions of programmers.

Even now that Novell provides full integration with popular Java and Web development tools from IBM and Oracle, there is still no compelling reason to use NetWare rather than any of the other platforms that run those tools, said analyst Dan Kusnetzky of IDC. An IDC study in February of 417 NetWare users found that while one in five would use it as a Web server by 2001, the same proportion would replace at least one of their NetWare servers, most likely with Windows.

Also hurting NetWare is that Novell is making its popular directory services software, NDS, available natively on other platforms such as Windows 2000 and Linux. If SuperValu, for example, decides that Microsoft's Active Directory falls short, Klein said, it will run NDS on Windows 2000.

An IT manager at a major New York bank, who asked not to be named, said that it could be more cost effective to deploy NDS on Windows 2000, as just another Windows network-management tool. To continue with NetWare would mean having to support two operating systems. The manager doubted that Novell could extend beyond its file-and-print server base to win over the developer community. "I think [Novell] is going to find it's very difficult to get mind share," he said.

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