What is it?
Novell is best known for its Netware network operating system, but these days less than 33% of the company's revenue comes from Netware. From the early 1980s to the mid-1990s Netware was the dominant local area network file and print technology. Since then, the company has been reinventing itself as a provider of "net services": directory, security, identity and application, and storage management services for the internet.
Novell has steadily lost ground to Microsoft but is using Linux to fight back. In June it announced Novell Nterprise Linux Services, which integrated file, print, messaging, directory and management services.
Where did it originate?
Novell began life in Utah, in 1983. By the early 1990s, Netware had 70% of the world network operating system market. That figure was down to 4% by 2002, and analyst firm Gartner has predicted Netware's share will fall to 1.3% by 2006.
But there are still four million Netware servers worldwide, supporting 90 million licensed users.
In 2001, Bloor Research put Novell's problem in a nutshell. "Despite all of its ups and downs over the years, nobody has ever really questioned the validity or quality of Novell's technology. But Novell, somehow, has managed to miss key trends, slipped up with its marketing and generally lost much of its identity."
What is it for?
The core is still file and print, but Novell is continually adding services such as a continuous back-up and server aggregation.
What makes it special?
When surveyed, users say that they stay with Novell because of its reliability, its lower cost of ownership (which Microsoft disputes) and the fact that it is not affected by most viruses, which target Microsoft's products. New business is coming from customers looking for secure identity management, secure web services and application integration.
How difficult is it to master?
You can become a certified Novell administrator in five days. Certified Novell engineers must undertake six courses.
The elite qualification is certified directory engineer, responsible for directories at installations with mixed operating systems. As a prerequisite, you must already be a CNE or Microsoft certified systems engineer. Agencies say Novell qualifications can be more of a differentiator than the more common MCSE.
Surveys indicate that CNEs earn more than unqualified counterparts - which is n0t always the case with supplier certifications.
Where is it used?
Larger companies and public sector organisations.
The death of the Novel with the death of Novell. Both have often been predicted; both have plenty of life in them yet.
What systems does it run on?
Windows, Unix, Linux. Gartner said a Linux option allows enterprises that have migrated away from Netware to reconsider Novell for file/print and application services and organisations that have never used Netware but are strongly committed to Linux may turn to it because it will provide stronger directory and file/print services than the open source community.
Not many people know that...
Novell was originally based on the Xerox networking specification.
What is coming up?
Netware 6.5. Netware 7.0 will probably be along in 2005.