The software maker has been praised by analysts for heading in the right direction but the only product that is expected to ship by the end of the year is the Universal Description, Discovery and Integration (UDDI) server that is being built on Novell's eDirectory server.
"They have a lot of good ideas and they've had them for a while but when are they going to deliver?" Mike Neuenschwander, an analyst at Burton Group, said. "They're trying to jump the gun and be a thought leader. It's more important for them to be a product leader."
However, Novell may be ahead of the demand curve with Web services and UDDI. IT departments have hardly been rushing to build Web services or use public UDDI repositories that can help them find information about how their trading partners want to interact.
The first part of Novell's directory services roadmap calls for the addition of a server to its eDirectory that will bring user authentication and access control to UDDI registries. That will allow authorised users to add information to and query information from UDDI registries, according to Ed Anderson, director of product management for the company's identity services group.
Anderson anticipated that large companies would start to deploy internal UDDI repositories next year. He predicted that some would experiment with the federation of their internal repositories so they can share information with business partners. "It will become more prominent in 2004 and forward," he said.
Neuenschwander said the UDDI server represents only "one-sixteenth" of what Novell wants to do through its Destiny roadmap. "The marketing guys are getting ahead of the engineering guys," he said.
No timetable was announced for several key pieces of the plan. Novell simply said that they would be delivered next year.
Those pieces include native support for XML and the Simple Object Access Protocol (Soap) in the eDirectory server; a single point of management for user identities drawn from multiple applications and services and a rules-based engine that will help directories manage user access to network resources. The roadmap also includes a federated system that will allow businesses to securely share identity information with business partners.
Anderson said the initial pieces would be modular add-ons to eDirectory, which is the foundation of Project Destiny.
John Enck, an analyst at research group Gartner, said the real value in Novell's directory services plan will be from policy-based identity management, which will allow more users to be administered by fewer people.
"You're not going to have to burn IT resources for a simple task like adding or maintaining user information in multiple directories," Enck said.