In his Comdex Fall 99 keynote address, Novell CEO Eric Schmidt announced the availability of Novell Directory Services 8 for Solaris and Windows NT and previewed new interoperability features in the next version of NDS due the first half of next year.
Novell is marketing the new releases as NDS eDirectory, although officials acknowledged there are few real differences in functionality between the products and NDS 8 for NetWare, which first shipped in May.
Directories are specialised database-driven tools that enable administrators to manage users, customers, devices or other network and Internet objects.
The company is also shipping NDS Corporate Edition, which includes tools to integrate various network resources under NDS.
But even as he announced this week's releases, Schmidt focused his remarks on a slightly longer-term vision.
The next version of NDS will use Domain Name Services (DNS) to allow individual businesses to connect to one another's lightweight directory access protocol (LDAP) directories.
Schmidt and Novell demonstrated two fictional businesses sharing directory access to allow authorisation of employees who need to interact with one another's Web sites.
The goal is to build relationships over the Internet by acting on the intimate knowledge about business partners and customers that a directory allows a company to store and manage.
Schmidt also explained another upcoming Novell technology called DirXML, which will use Extensible Markup Language to feed into NDS data from sources that don't have awareness of directories, such as older applications.
The chance to share directory information and enhance electronic relationships with business partners by personalising Web sites with that information intrigued William Lazo, senior network planner at a major financial services company in the Mid-Atlantic region: "I have always been a pretty big believer in NDS. I think it's definitely something we're going to take a look at."
Novell hopes that making its directory native to Windows NT and Solaris will bring in new customers who depend on those platforms.
To encourage that, the company announced upgrade deals that will allow users of existing LDAP directories to migrate all their users to NDS at no cost if they pay for maintenance. Users of Windows 2000 or Solaris will be able to get up to 10 free 100-user licences of NDS eDirectory.