Strong services support from integrators and channel partners will be a key advantage for Novell throughout 2000 and with the upcoming release of Microsoft's Windows 2000 and ActiveDirectory.
Lembit Pikkat, Novell's marketing development manager, told ARN Daily that Novell is aiming for a "competitive advantage" over Microsoft through reliable products and value-added services from the channel.
"Our viewpoint in the channel with the release of Microsoft Active Directory is that it helps raise the awareness and validates the need for directory services," Pikkat said.
"Most customers have got multiple platforms . . .our integrators are going to have to try and supply solutions [and services for multiple platforms]," he said.
"Hopefully this is where our advantage lies."
Pikkat said throughout 2000 Novell will be encouraging integrators and partners to focus on providing customers with network services, rather than just the right products.
Ron Heinz, Novell's senior vice president of worldwide sales, said Novell is expecting some challenges to arise from the release of ActiveDirectory, but is confident the company can maintain its strong foothold in the directory marketplace.
"I think you'll always have to look at Microsoft [as a challenge] for sure. They are our largest competitor -- in some areas we try to cooperate with them and in other areas we compete very aggressively," he said.
"One would argue that Win 2000 will at least present some challenges."
Heinz said Novell is "excited" that Microsoft is "finally" releasing its product. "What's difficult to compete against is a product that's not shipped.
"It is easier to compete against [a product that's in the market] and it will help educate the market as to what directories can do. It also helps to accelerate growth of a market segment by having competition," he said.
According to Heinz, a key advantage for Novell is the heterogeneous strategy adopted by the company.
"We support [NT, Unix, Solaris, Linux] platforms with our directory. If you look at Microsoft's strategy, if you're going to use ActiveDirectory you have to use Windows 2000 a -- it's a Microsoft-centric and Microsoft only-product.
"We think our strategy is broader and more focused on the space that makes sense to our customers."
While admitting in the past Novell has perhaps been "too focused" on Microsoft, Heinz said Microsoft is no longer a "distraction" for Novell.
He said Novell's greatest challenge continues to be articulating to the market the benefits of Novell's products and services.