Novell is expected next week to take the wraps off its iChain electronic-business software, which analysts say is a critical release for the company.
Novell needs to grow beyond its dwindling NetWare file and print market, but observers said they doubted its ability to succeed in the e-commerce arena and make iChain a standard.iChain will be the first incarnation of Novell's attempt to take its Novell Directory Services (NDS) outside the firewall and position it as a tool for managing e-commerce relationships. The software will be aimed at supply-chain relationships.
Analyst Dana Gardner at Aberdeen Group said iChain demonstrates the benefit of directory-enabled applications. But Gardner said he expects it to appeal mainly to Novell's installed base.
`Novell has to find other business opportunities' outside NetWare, said analyst Steve Kleynhans at Meta Group. `The iChain initiative is a positive step in that it proves you can take a directory out and use it as an e-business platform.' But Kleynhans said e-commerce `is not an area where Novell has lots of presence'. And Novell has always been weak at marketing, he added.