Novell will announce a major new partnership with Netscape at its annual BrainShare conference this week.
The two companies are to form a joint venture integrating Netscape's SuiteSpot server software range with Novell's IntranetWare. Both are investing undisclosed amounts in the new company, to be called Novonyx and headquartered in Utah. Netscape will license its SuiteSpot source code to the company, which will develop a version of SuiteSpot to run on Novell's NetWare network operating platform. Novonyx's CEO has yet to be named.
"The companies fit together very well. The deal has all the hallmarks of solid market thinking," said Rana Mainee, analyst at research firm IDG.
However, Mainee warned that its success was not guaranteed, and the partners have a powerful competitor in Microsoft.
Eugene Forrester, marketing development manager at Novell, denied integrating SuiteSpot with IntranetWare would clash with Novell's own messaging and groupware product GroupWise. "There are messaging capabilities in both GroupWise and SuiteSpot, so we will offer customers a choice," he said.
He also categorically denied any possibility of a merger between the two firms.
Jeremy Gittens, Internet platforms manager at Microsoft UK, claimed Novell and Netscape were behind in the game. "This is two companies trying to keep pace with the rapid developments at Microsoft," he commented. "The only way some companies can keep up is by pooling their second class products to make something that can compete with ours."
Novell is also expected to make announcements at the conference regarding its Java strategy, including the integration of JavaSoft's JavaBeans into its network services and utilities.
BrainShare will also see the first public appearance of Novell's new CEO, Eric Schmidt, who will deliver a keynote speech. Schmidt was formerly chief technology officer at Sun, and leaves Sun amicably to take up what he has called "the opportunity of a lifetime".
This should be a good week for Novell. Its joint venture with Netscape is a smart move, and may help heighten the appeal of IntranetWare over NT. The company is moving ahead in its Java strategy, and may announce further licensing deals for NDS. And at last, Novell has a new leader.
Eric Schmidt is a well-respected figure with a strong track record in the Internet field. Anyone Scott McNealy describes as "an awesome technologist" must have a few good ideas.
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