In a technology demonstration at Comdex on Wednesday, Novell showed a Java agent that allowed it to manage Cisco routers from a graphical console, and store the configuration in NDS (Novell Directory Services).
In the promising field of directory based network management, Cisco has been working closely with Microsoft and its Active Directory technology. However, Active Directory will not ship until the launch of Windows 2000 (formerly Windows NT 5.0) some time next year.
"This is not an attempt to break the Microsoft-Cisco relationship," explained Ron Palmeri, vice president of strategic relations with Novell. "What we want is that people feel safe that they will be able to use the directory that they have already deployed [to manage Cisco devices]."
Palmeri said that Cisco's close work with Microsoft has created fear among users of Novell's NDS that NDS would not support Cisco devices. The technology demonstration at Comdex was meant to put these customers' minds at rest, Palmeri explained.
Two other networking vendors, Nortel and Lucent, have already committed to integrating their products with NDS. In the case of Cisco, it appears to be Novell that will do the heavy lifting.
Novell said it would develop and bring to market the technology to manage existing and new Cisco equipment from the Novell Console One management environment. Novell did not commit to product specifics or ship dates, but it said a product would be out within 18 months.
The software used in the demonstration was written in 100% Pure Java, Novell said. A Java agent communicated with the router and with NDS, making use of LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol).
In the demonstration, Novell changed the configuration of a Cisco 4000 router, storing the configuration information in the NDS directory. Novell said the same configuration information could then be used to configure Nortel or Lucent devices.
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