Novell has regained its networking focus, according to senior executives at the company, and will prove it with a slew of new products and services designed to make the Internet a safe place to do business.
"In the recent past, Novell was involved in too many disparate businesses," admitted Willy Donnohoo, senior vice president for marketing, last week. "Having originally been a networking software supplier, we choose to spin off into other businesses. Many of them did not succeed and by defocusing as we did, we misread a number of opportunities in our core business of networking."
This is all in the past, he insisted, following an extended period of upheaval that saw the termination or sell-off of 20 different products, most famously its Wordperfect word processing applications. Decisions were taken to can certain lines if they did not meet one or more criteria.
"Some didn?t or weren?t going to make money," explained Donnohoo. "That didn?t mean that other people couldn?t make money from those products, so we retired gracefully from them. Some didn?t fit our networking focus, such as the Wordperfect software. Others just didn?t make sense."
But there is much for Novell to be content with, insisted executive vice president Glenn Ricart, highlighting the company?s last set of quarterly results - for the fourth quarter ended 26 October 1996 - reporting revenues of $384 million and net income of $59 million. Revenue was down, he admitted, but this was as a result of losing the revenue contribution from its Wordperfect and Unixware products, not because of any inherent financial slowdown.
The prospects for the company are good, he said, although the breakdown of the company?s business is set to change by the turn of the century. Citing figures from research firm IDC, Riker said 50 per cent of the world?s network servers - some eight million installations - run Netware. Netware variants account for 60 per cent of the company?s total revenue.
By 2000, Novell predicts that although it will continue adding one million new licences a year, the contribution to revenues will have fallen to 30 per cent, qual to groupware and network services respectively. Its share of what will by then be a 25-30 million licence market will also have fallen as NT makes advances.
The ?refocused? Novell is concentrating on two main areas - servers and their adjuncts, and groupware. These areas can be subdivided into five product areas: network operating systems, management products, groupware, network directory services and a new product offering provisionally called border services.
"There is an impression in some circles that the network operating systems market is a dead end," said Riker."But we see it as being about more than just file and print services." With Netware now under the Intranetware brand, the firm last week officially lifted the lid on its low end Intranetware For Small Businesses, targeted at companies with 25 users or less (see story, 23 January).
For its management offerings, Novell is citing the cost of ownership issue as the major concern for its Workstation Manager product. This has been extended to manage NT server domains as well as Intranetware, reflecting the company?s resolve to co-exist with and benefit from Microsoft?s installed base instead of trying to break it down.
The company cited New York-based JP Morgan as an example of what it claims Workstation Manager can offer customers. JP Morgan has scrapped plans to integrate its 13,000 NT Workstations using NT Server and will use Workstation Manager instead.
"Microsoft had proposed using 50 NT Servers to provide domain services," said Donnohoo. "Instead JP Morgan used Workstation Manager to provide the same services using three Netware servers. It saved $1.5 million on hardware costs alone, before ongoing cost savings are taken into account."
Novell?s groupware thrust is based on Groupwise which, according to Donnohoo, had a good 1996. The company claims an installed base of 7.5 million seats for the product, putting it in third place after cc:Mail and MS Mail ahead of both Lotus Notes and Microsoft Exchange.
Enhancements to Groupwise will include additional workflow and document management facilities with particular emphasis on extending them to the Internet and intranets. This work is codenamed the Jefferson Project and is based on the notion of public Net libraries that allow Groupwise users to publish any time and any place. (Thomas Jefferson instigated US public libraries).
The benefits of this will be to provide users with access to information via direct IRL reference as well as the ability to edit documents via any network or remote workstation. Any authorised user will be able to create or update documents, bringing greater control of Web content and eliminating the need for IT personnel to take part in the publication of updated Web pages.
In the directory services market, Novell has set out to make its NDS offering a de facto standard to find information on the Internet and on intranets by giving away the code to Unix server providers, including IBM, SCO, HP and Sun. NDS is also being rewritten to embrace the NT sector. The company expects to see additional revenue opportunities to emerge from this strategy.
"Enterprises with more than one directory will need to federate, synchronise and replicate them and they?re going to need software to do that," explained Donnohoo. "We want to make our directories unbiquitous throughout the Interent and supply that software."
Novell is also betting on 1997 being the year of directory-enabled applications, with Oracle predicted to be the first supplier to produce NDS-enabled applications.
Enhancements to NDS will include the addition of object management facilities with the company set to make an announcement soon about its use of an implementation of the Object Management Group?s Common Object Request Broker Architecture (Corba) specification.
According to Vic Langford, senior vice president for Internet strategies, the company has a number of object request broker (Orb) possibilities on the table, but ICL?s offering seems more than a good bet as Novell?s likely solution. A live implementation was demoed at Novell?s Brainshare conference last year and Langford admitted that the two companies had been in discussion. The main stumbling block to progress seems to be ICL?s indecision about what it wants to do with its Orb technology, but talks have reopened recently.
Making the Internet safe for everyone is the ambition behind a new Novell offering that will be officially unveiled at this year?s Brainshare in March - Border Services. Drew Major, one of the original Netware architects and now head of Novell?s Advanced Technology Group, explained: "Many people are scared of the Internet. Border Services are things needed to make it safe."
These include proxy and caching services, firewalls, virtual private networks and gateways. All are available technologies from individual suppliers today but will be bundled by Novell into a single offering that sits between the Lan client and the Internet server.
"Lan environments are reliable, secure and fast, while the Internet is unreliable, insecure and slow," said Major. "When accessing the Internet, you?re trying to connect two different worlds. Border Services are things that are on the border of the two worlds that can solve some of the problems involved in passing between them."
Among the advantages claimed for Border Services are improved access control, performance gains, and, in its second release, content filtering software, which will be able, for example, to block the transmission of viruses from Web pages or to restrict access based on user profiling. Proxy caching enables faster access to HTML pages by storing frequently accessed ones in a local area cache, freeing up bandwidth in the process.
A first release border services offering - and the name may well change - is scheduled to ship in May. An early access product has been available since December, with a beta programme set to begin any time.
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