Novell is adding more open source tools to its Netware operating system as it fights to keep the product's market share from diminishing further.
The company has admitted that Microsoft and Linux will be the future dominant forces in the operating system market, and is planning to offer core elements of Netware as services that can run on Linux.
Netware's reliability has seen it build a loyal user base, but Novell now talks of the need to "stabilise" the technology's future while the company moves to focus on identity management services.
"The goal is to be able to extract these services out of the operating system and make them available to anyone that wants to use them," said Chris Stone, Novell vice chairman in the office of the chief executive, in an exclusive interview with vnunet.com.
"There are two platforms that will exist in five year's time: Microsoft and Linux. Netware is a great operating system but there is a public perception that it is a legacy environment.
"Do you attempt to throw money and technology into that environment or do you take the value and put it into others?"
Elements of Netware that will be made available as paid-for services running on Linux are expected to include file and print.
"If you look at the Linux market there's Samba for file and print. If you think about the opportunity it's pretty significant," said Stone.
Stone would not give a time frame for extracting Netware applications for Linux, but said it would be within the next 18 months.
He commented: "The Netware business is about 30 per cent of our revenue. We do believe that the identity part of the business will be bigger than any other part of our business in about 18 months."
Novell said it remains committed to its Netware install base.
"The problem is people still think of Novell as Netware and not the other products. But if Novell is making its stuff more open that's great. The closer companies get to openness the better," said user Alan MacDonald, network service manager at Stirling Council.
"People are not likely to consider Netware in a new environment when Microsoft has all the clout of its marketing behind it and Linux is available on a cost-effective basis," said Paul Gardner, chairman of the Novell Users Association
Novell is bundling tools such as Apache, Tomcat and JBOS, plus its iFolder and Branch Office Manager software, with Netware 6.5. It will also make announcements about its Zen software at its Brainshare conference in the US next week.
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