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The Almighty Buck

Is Novell Doomed? 256

Posted by Cliff
from the what-do-you-think dept.
man_of_mr_e asks: "I recently had a bit of an epiphany, and wondered what other Slashdot readers think. It occurred to me that we haven't heard much from Novell regarding either Linux or the recent anti-trust developments. I began to wonder why. Then it hit me: Novell is doomed no matter what happens. With the exception of NDS, Novell has very little technology that makes sense in a Linux environment, and even NDS is losing ground to LDAP based solutions. So, Novell finds itself in the unusual position of hoping that MS wins its anti-trust appeals, since Linux could very well make Netware irrelevant. On the flip side, if MS wins it's anti-trust appeals, then Netware has to compete with NT/2000 and ActiveDirectory. Again, this could make Netware largely irrelevant, especially now that most network printers are all direct-IP addressable and have little need for a print server (or at least in the concept that Netware/NT have)." Is this a good analysis or does Novell have an ace in the hole that will guarantee some future revenues?
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Is Novell Doomed?

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  • I have two words for you. Sell Short.
  • I thought everyone knew Novell was dead - since the late 80's!

    Or was that Apple?

    Or was that Castro?

    I forget :-)
  • They have cornered the market in goldfish bowls, and will soon take over the world with their brilliant advertising campaign.

    Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes.

    To answer the question "is Novell doomed", the assembled /.ers will take 200 posts to say: Yes.

    --
  • Never say a company is doomed unless you are talking about Novell. Oh wait...

  • Novell's share price hasn't moved much since a major drop [yahoo.com] in May. I think that if they were doomed we would have seen more action recently... unless now is a good time to short NOVL :)
    -Duke

  • So you want to buy some Netware 3/x books and software? I have lots.

    I knew they were doomed once TCP/IP trumped IPX.

    What's the next Ask Slashdot, Is Data General doomed?
  • You are absolutely right. Novell is quickly turning itself into: Novellty.

    1. My Second Vote Was For Gore [mikegallay.com]
  • by RedDirt (3122) on Friday October 27, 2000 @07:16AM (#670028) Homepage
    And I don't mean Active Server Pages. :) The last bit of news I've heard about Novell is their targeting of the Application Service Provider market. After all, this is where Unix (and to a lesser extent, NT) shine. File sharing services are ho-hum and directory services, while important, are being passed by in favor of returning to the mainframe style of computing. Dumb-terminals (web browsers) talking to mainframes (ASP applications) ... I guess what goes around comes around. However, Novell is going to find it impossible to get into that market. Their last-best hope is to find a buyer (Caldera or IBM) and roll NDS stuff into LDAP ...

  • Short answer: Yup.

    --ken

  • Netware has outlived its intended lifespan. Here at the college, there is a Netware server handling the printers and the main file server. Every time the printer runs out of paper, a dialog box pops up on EVERY computer signaling that the printer is out of paper. Print jobs take about four times as long as they would on a comparable NT3.51 network, and the shared files take too long to transfer. Also, the Internet access has the ping of a 56k modem, despite the T1 line coupled with the gigabit backplanes of the network.

    I'm eager to see the Netware server be replaced or revived with BSD or Win2K Advanced server. Maybe then we can have Win2K Pro on the lab workstations instead of NT4SP5. Besides, 3DSMAX would look a lot prettier in full Direct3D splendor, as well as true DirectX sound acceleration.

  • by tuxrules (227341) on Friday October 27, 2000 @07:17AM (#670031)
    Many schools continue to use Netware because of the huge educational discounts given them. It would cost too much money to switch to NT, and Linux servers don't have good enough Windows compatibility for them.
  • Rumor Mill, Novell isnt dead its very much alive and ticking. Oracle and Novell have major plans coming soon. Oracle and Novell has been developing on a new NOS from the ground up for the past 3 years, all you share holders just remmber you heard it here first on /. ;)
  • As for the paper out pop-ups, bad administrators, or should I say lazy if there popping up on every workstation
  • Sure, LDAP and Active directory are great things. But let's take a quick look at what they are. Directory based management of all nodes/users/devices/whatever jacked into a network. They meet the same need that NDS met when it came out around 10 years ago. Now, think back to the days when NDS first came out on the scene. Netware 3. Did anyone really enjoy that product? No. Novell themselves openly admit that it was the first attempt at a rather complicated project. It wasn't until Netware 4 that NDS really became a powerful and useful tool. So, NDS has had 10 years lead (give or take) over AD and LDAP. Am I certain that these will suffer similar problems? Of course now, but NDS is tried and true. Netware has a userbase tens of millions (this isn't exactly a Banyan here) And NDS can manage both LDAP, thereby making it a more useful tool than either of the others. Expect to see Novell begin to sidestage their other products, like Netware and Groupwise, and focus on the one key product which will allow them to move forward. Expect to see an even greater cross platform push for NDS, allowing them to be the central authentication and management point for all nodes.
  • Of course Novell is irrelevant; they've been that way for a year or two now. The question is, how could they fix themselves? Since "embracing" open source is so trendy these days, that seems like a likely route. They have decent resources and (presumably) developers; why not take a shot at changing NDS into an open standard (perhaps just changing into an LDAP based product), and building adapters for the various OS's? There's probably a lot of other options. Certainly they are no longer the market dictator that they once were (and probably never will be again), but I see no reason that they can't remain in business producing useful products.
  • (If you find no amusement in the subject line of this post, you won't find any in the body either.)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Novell, is doomed, but it will be a slow onsetting doom. They were very broadly installed in major corporations, and there is some effort involved in ripping out their existing services and replacing them with more long lived options. So, for the short term future Novell will continue to survive on service of existing clients. They'll also likely continue to sell their product to people who strongly back the "if it ain't broke" mentality.

    In the long run though they haven't innovated in any significant way in a while. It seems like ever since the Internet came to town they've been struggling to figure out how to take advantage of it. I suspect it may be too late.

    So, barring any miracle come backs I would expect to see them drift into obscurity/bankruptcy in the next 5 years or so.
  • by kalifa (143176) on Friday October 27, 2000 @07:22AM (#670038)
    Here [thestreet.com]. The explanations are full of PR twisted nonsense and fake optimism. Doesn't look good.
  • This question assumes that, if MS doesn't win their case, that the world will suddenly be switching en masse to Linux. While such a thing might be good, I don't see any real evidence why it would happen. Therefore, Novell has no real reason to care if Microsoft wins or loses ... in fact, it might be best for them if MS loses, since it might erode their power base some.

    A better way to ask this question may have simply been, "Is Novell going to come up with something to keep themselves afloat, or are Linux, MS, and everyone else going to eat them alive?" Of course, that doesn't have the magic MS antitrust, CueCat, or PS2 topics involved, and so probably never would have made the cut.

  • --Let's see got my CNE in 97, worked on a Novell system once since then...

    --Doomed

  • Ot's over 10x faster than a Linux based caching proxy. In some cases its almost 100x faster. So I
    don't think Novell is out of the picture yet.


    Bullshit.

    http://polygraph.ircache. net /Results/bakeoff-2/#Sect:7.3 [ircache.net]

    Squid beat out the Novell box (the Dell)in most tests.
  • The ace in the hole that Novell has is a team of good developers and a strong presence in networks outside the US. It's the first that's the most important: technologies come and go, companies can retool and reorient and survive.
  • Novell supports LDAP, Oracle runs faster on a novell server then it does on NT, and is cheaper if you want, say a 5 license version (Comes with Novell 5).

    I prefer a Novell server for a file server or print server then say an NT server, as with Novell inherent design, no one does much from the console, where as in some (I do say some) people running NT servers, all of a sudden start installing office and other applications on the servers.

    Then again, I lock my linux box up, and don't let people do anything from the console.

    Novell is just that, a file server, and for performance, it's pretty sweet. Everyone just seems to get lazy and prefer pretty graphics on there machines, nothing wrong with that, but it's a server, your not supposed to have to actually sit at it to do everything (yes yes, I know you can remotely administer NT servers, but some people like to customize desktops (ever seen catz or dogz running on your production servers? fun to play with while your waiting for something to happen))

    My 2 cents
  • That's just crummy admin on your Admin's part. Segment off your users, rather than having every user under the same branch of the tree. This will both boost performance (by cutting the brodcast traffic on each subnet) and allow for easier admin. Just my thougths.
  • On the flip side, if MS wins it's anti-trust appeals, then Netware has to compete with NT/2000 and ActiveDirectory.

    Er, exactly how does NT/2000 and ActiveDirectory go away if MS loses its anti-trust appeals? He seems to think that the trial is about forcing Microsoft into bankruptcy.


    --

  • Novell has two money making ventures currently, their caching solution, which actually is selling very well, and NDS. Netware is not gaining marketshare, although it does continue to limp along. I think somebody will eventually buy them to get NDS.. perhaps IBM... it's been long rumored they might buy them up at a firesale price. It would make sense and give them a hedge against active directory. There are lots of cool things you could do with the netware filesystem and NDS. How about a peer to peer file sharing system for linux whereby different servers could mount and access remote filesystems easily, through firewalls with integrated NDS authentication. Just a thought.
  • Really, if you look at it, it doesn't really matter whether Microsoft wins or loses that case.

    Active Directory isn't going to go away. It might land with the OS people, or the Applications people, or whatever, but it will still be out there, and I think they're right: Microsoft's saturation will make it rather difficult for Novell to compete against them. They're DOOMED!

    I think though, with LDAP being as solid as it is, and considering its openness, it's really only a matter of time before speciallized commercial directory services shrivel up and die. They just won't be worth paying for.

    Eh, that's worth at least $0.02 :)
  • by Alcoholist (160427) on Friday October 27, 2000 @07:27AM (#670048) Homepage
    I think Novell has known for years that the current evolution of their product line is probably doomed. Normally a company which has been around as long as Novell doesn't miss that kind of thing. I suspect that Novell is probably moving away from their proprietary Netware products, and is beginning to focus more on network management stuff.

    Never underestimate the laziness of a sysadmin. Easy, fast, large scale network management is in great demand these days, but is largely untapped. This is reason why Microsoft is getting into it, and I suspect that Novell will too.

  • I think LDAP is supported by Novell.
    If you need a directory service, what will you use if not NDS?
    I agree that Novell will shrink a little bit, maybe twice, but it will be alive as long as NDS is alive, i.e. all the observable future.
  • Please see http://eltoday.com/article.php3?ltsn=2000-10-20-00 1-13-PS

  • Dont sell Novell's NDS technology short. It is years ahead of M$'s active directory technology. Their sales might be weak, but enough to keep them alive long enough to win in the directory market.

    I've been in the tech industry for more than a couple of decades now. I've heard at least 10 times of the immiment death of Apple. 4 or 5 times the imminent death of Novell. More times than I can count "imminent death of the internet". IBM, micro~1.oft, and many others have their death predicted on a regular basis. Ignore these death notices, instead go play on fuckedcompany.com [fuckedcompany.com] and pick off a few feeble dotcoms. You have a good chance of being right.

    the AC
  • by operagost (62405) on Friday October 27, 2000 @07:32AM (#670055) Homepage Journal
    For one, what version are you running? NW 5's IP implementation is worlds better than 4.x. I really suspect you have a network problem, really, because you mention both slow printing and high latency. What are you pinging? An internet machine, or another device on the network? How many hops to it? Do a tracerte. I realize you have a gigabit backplane, but what about at the workstations? If you are file serving over IPX, can your switches give preference to this protocol? Can you dump IPX and go to all IP to reduce traffic? Going to Netware 5 is the easiest way to accomplish this. Do you have a recent version of Client32?

    BTW, there is a CLient32 for Windows 2000. No need to dump the Netware server just to run it.

  • near where I used to work (near rt101 and brokaw) there was a HUGE lot of land that had a big sign on it (about 2 yrs ago), "Coming Soon: NOVELL".

    well, I never did see anyone build on that land. perhaps they finally realized that not even the wonderful Radia (routing guru from DEC who went to work at Novell, last I heard) could save their sinking ship. (btw, is Radia still there? anyone know??)

    --

  • by Shadok8 (58859) on Friday October 27, 2000 @07:35AM (#670060)
    Netware is not the problem at your college. The problem is the server is mis-configured. It sounds like they are talented bunch of individuals capable of bringing any network to its knees. The problems you describe are about human incompetence, not product capabilities.

    If your college sets up a BSD or Win2k server as badly as the Novell box you describe, you will not see improvements.
  • In the old days, Novell had rigid licensing control. There was a hardware dongle that Netware checked for periodically. Made piracy nearly impossible. Then one day, Novell decided to drop the dongle. Novell was then, over time, widely pirated BY BUSIENSSES (let's not just portray pirates as l33t h4x0rz). Then Novell one day decided to 'crack down' on unlicensed Netware installations. Companies quickly forked over cash to license all their software. Novell made a fianacial killing. Compamies were caught with their pants down.

    Well, if you made an ass of me like this, I'd probably quit dealing with you in the future. Looks like that's what happened with Novell.

    Well enjoy your strict license enforcement. You think it protects profits. I'll just shop elsewhere and prove that your practises will have the exact opposite effect. Maybe go with a Linux solution. Fuck you Novell.

  • by Magorak (85788) on Friday October 27, 2000 @07:38AM (#670065) Homepage Journal
    Well, I can't agree with most of these posts who say that Novell is dead. Yeah. Novell & Netware aren't exactly on the high ranks of NOS's anymore, but they are far from being shot in the dark and dead.

    I work in a Netware 5 environment and we have run Netware here since v3.11 and they have absolutely no intentions of ever switching to Linux, NT, or any other OS. Netware has always performed beautifully and NT won't scale to the size and stability that we need. Linux is a great OS and I love it, but the work required to change our corrugated cardboard system here to Linux would be way too expensive.

    Norampac (the company I work for) is very dedicated to staying with Novell & Netware and I imagine there are plenty of other companies that are out there that are in the same situation. Yes, perhaps other companies are producing products that can do things in the same fashion, but that doesn't mean the company is dead. Novell produces some extremely reliable and rock solid software and the companies out there using it, know that.

    Don't say a company is dead just because they're old.

    ------------
  • I local DSL ISP offered pay per use software using Novell tech. This wasn't fancy web apps but full blown software like MS Office. Last I checked none of the costomers cared. All they wanted was an Internet connection.

  • by platypus (18156) on Friday October 27, 2000 @07:42AM (#670074) Homepage
    ... , Oracle runs faster on a novell server then it does on NT, and is cheaper if you want, say a 5 license version (Comes with Novell 5).

    uum...
    s/runs/ran/; s/is/was/; s/Comes/came/;
    You might be interested in this [linuxtoday.com] ; message to linux-kernel from Jeff Merkey.

    Short quote

    This wa[s] sent to TRG by NetWare customers using Oracle who wanted an
    easy path to get from NetWare to Linux.

    Oracle cuts NetWare support

    Oracle is to drop its support for Novell's NetWare in a move which
    analysts say will kill off the operating system as a database
    platform.


    Novell is doomed at least w.r.t. their OS.

  • NDS is, and always has been, a great technology. The same goes for most of Novell's products. The problem is that it is a proprietary system, and such things are going away right now. LDAP and ActiveDirectory(yes I know its proprietary too) are taking over for NDS.

    Print servers are still very much needed. An organization with many many printers doesn't want to have to change 100 client machines every time they upgrade. They want to go to the print server, change the IP, or LPT, or whatever, to the new one, and be done with it.

    Novell itself had everything at one point, but the world has changed. I don't think there's anything they can do but continue to support their current customers. I couldn't care less, as any open system provides me with so many more options than something closed such as Novell.
  • by Mr. Neutron (3115) on Friday October 27, 2000 @07:44AM (#670078) Homepage Journal
    I work in a Novell environment, and have done so for the past three years. The entire university system here is one giant NDS. And I'm one of the guys who make the network go. So, I can tell you with some amount of certainty that there is no network directory as mature, feature-rich, and easily manageable as NDS. Active Directory doesn't come close, although they are scrambling to catch up.

    Can Microsoft leverage its OS hegemony to oust NDS in favor of AD? Perhaps. But there are a lot of us Novell people out there who will fight it tooth and nail. We like NDS, and we are not going to let bonehead management get fooled into an inferior system like AD.

    Now, if Microsoft loses... First, what makes you think that if MS gets broken up, everyone's going to flock over to Linux? We're still going to have tons of Windows boxes that need to access network objects. And even if everyone does go to Linux, there is not a UN*X answer to the power of NDS. I would say that if MS gets broken up, things would look very good for Novell. Why do you think that NDS doesn't make sense in a Linux world? We will still have desktop workstations that need to access network objects. And NDS STILL is (IMBO) the best way of managing large users, groups, and network objects.

    --
    "How many six year olds does it take to design software?"

  • Again, this could make Netware largely irrelevant, especially now that most network printers are all direct-IP addressable and have little need for a print server (or at least in the concept that Netware/NT have).

    Network-aware printers don't make Netware (or any other server-based print management solution) irrelevant any more than SAN hardware makes file servers irrelevant; it's a bitch to manage a medium sized LAN's printing needs without one or more print servers, and effing impossible to do so with a large LAN.

    Although it's possible that Novell will go away, or that Netware will go away, network-aware printers will have nothing to do with it. In fact, companies that run server-based LANs are more likely to buy network-aware printers, in my admittedly-unscientific anecdotal experience.

    -
  • FedEx runs our entire LAN, servicing something like 145,000 employees in various ways, on Novell.

    While I can't speak for corporate policy, I highly doubt that we're going to just suddenly up and switch to Windows 2000.

    As long as Novell has huge customers like us paying for their overpriced products, they aren't going anywhere.

    -
  • by Lurking Grue (3963) on Friday October 27, 2000 @07:57AM (#670090)
    Novell admits that it is trying to reduce its dependence on Netware sales. NDS is solid, and by definition LDAP will not displace NDS. (The "L" in LDAP stands for lightweight. There is nothing lightweight about NDS.) They are trying to find ways to leverage their expertise, such as the ASP area.

    If you think Novell is sitting still, or even deteriorating, check out this link [cnn.com]. It's just another example of Novell continuing to find ways to extend their technologies.

    I'm not claiming that Novell is preparing for world domination. But Novell's death has been rumored for years. If anything, I'd bet that they would be bought-out by a big player. (Oracle, IBM, AOL?)

  • > 2) What service can a Windows based server supply that a Linux server can't?

    ACL's on file servers. Or local servers for that matter (do NOT tell me about ext3, I need something that ships now).

    Auto-installation of printer drivers (hm does Samba do this yet?). I hack emacs lisp, I can hand-edit sendmail.cf (to some degree), I write perl, but jesus christ printing under Unix is still something I despise doing.

    Cross-domain authentication. Kerberos you say? Show me a linux server and client that has everything kerberos-enabled out of the box. I won't touch NIS+ with a 10 foot bargepole. Even Sun won't (now they're moving to LDAP for all services, hope Linux keeps up)

    So I guess Linux *can* do it all. Just by way of numerous crocks and kludges that even an experienced admin is loathe to touch, much less an intern.
  • Doesn't lose its shares, data, etc. The backup runs nightly and reliably
    Out of curiosity, how do you know, if you never touch the server? Do you test your backups? Do you try restoring random files occasionally to see if it works? Do you test your tape drive to make sure it's not out of alignment, thusly rendering it's tapes useless on other drives? No machine with moving parts is SUPPOSED to sit in the corner for three years, covering in dust. That's bad.
  • by bsoutham (248327) on Friday October 27, 2000 @08:04AM (#670099) Homepage
    There are a few facts floating around here that are incorrect.

    NDS did not appear until NetWare 4.0 - not 3.x. 3.x did have a utility to sync info from one bindery to another, and later from NDS to a bindery, but NDS did not appear until 4.0.

    Several places people ask why use NDS when you can use LDAP, or that LDAP make NDS irrelevant. LDAP is a protocol not an implmentation. NDS is LDAP v3 compliant. NDS implments LDAP. It just also happens to do lots more.

    Novell does have a very good web proxy server. It has been a leader in the price/performance ratings for the last serveral bake-offs. But there is more to a proxy than just speed. Setup, administration, etc. Dell, IBM, and Compaq all OEM Novell's ICS (Internet cache system) product.

    I have no idea on where the rumor above about Novell and Oracle developing a new OS from scratch for the last 3 years has come from, but I can tell you it is false. Not happening. Don't hold your breath.

  • I don't think Microsoft have innovated yet and Windows is on 90% of the desktops. Innovation is trivial, it's the clever marketing lies and buzzwords that sell it to the business graduates that actually sign the cheques, and that's where MS excels (no pun intended).
  • Your almost 100% correct there, but there is "a UN*X answer to the power of NDS"..

    Its called NDS.

    Since NDS can be exposed with LDAP unix/pam will play nicely with it. In fact, I have a NDS/LDAP server on a linux box for testing purposes now, with no netware in sight.

    The core question assumed that NDS was loosing groud to LDAP bases solutions.. Um NDS is a LDAP solution. Will openldap (or whatever) support a couple of hundreds of objects? Sure. Tens of thousands of objects? Maby. Millions? Proabably not.

    Netware may be largely irrelevent, but NDS/eDirectory is the future. Judging from last winters trade show theme of "One Net", Novell dosent even realy care about netware anymore (or at least is focusing on NDS/eDirectory.

    If you dont understand why NDS is a good thing then you havent ever had to administer a non trivial network with more then a few dozen objects.

  • First, NDS is an LDAP based solution. At least if the CNE course material is to be believed.

    Second, I've seen Novell's software in use in places since the late eighties, and for the past five to six years I have heard from numerous places that 'Novell is dying'. I'm here to tell you that it is putting up a rather decent fight. Surely since the barrage of Microsoft's NT Server platforms became prevalent around '96, they have had to change their tactics a bit. However, simply saying that they're dying off is ridiculous.

    I am very pleased with NetWare as a server OS. I have never seen a single Microsoft empowered server stand up in sheer up-time. In fact our company had a Novell 3.12 Server that had an uptime of well over 18 months. Then a power outage occured that the battery backup couldn't handle...and well, the drives, heh..hmm, let's not go there (it was a sad day all around, poor computer). By comparison, our NT Terminal Server (avec Citrix Metaframe 1.8), needs a fresh boot once every few weeks...our NT4 Server (avec Exchange) about once every two months.

    We've got two NetWare servers in the company now, and I'm impressed by the application serving that is going on with GroupWise and such. This shows that Novell has not just rested on their already potent file sharing, but has moved on to compete in the app-server arena.

    I think that due to several factors we'll see Novell around for quite some time. NDS, ZenWorks, GroupWise...they've got a few things they can market if they choose to do some porting to other platforms. Whether or not linux and MS are threats, there has been enough of a niche market for years (education, die hard IT guys in businesses), small business alone is a good place for Novell.

    Rock hard stability is something that is hard to give up. The expense of a sweeping platform migration is even more deterrent for some places.

    In the end, third party application support may be Novell's down fall. This is sad, since it is such a great platform.

    ok, I'll end my rambling now ;)

  • It's alive and well alive I may say. Yes it is not in the tops as years before. But then, the main stream was "File Server War". Microsoft decided to beat Novell and failed miserably then. Yes Novell also made the dumbiest thing of trying to overcome Microsoft. By fighting M$ in its own Motherland: Windows. Novell tried to launch a an Office series that would preform better than M$ Office. Yeah the thing was more innovative then M$. But the launch of Win95 killed the enterprise and Novell had to sell the whole stuff to Corel.

    Meanwhile Novell remained the ONE file server enterprise. No other file server system preforms as well and good as Netware. In this point, the specialization of Novell managed to overdevelop this core task. Netware servers are not only fast but highly perfect. They possess a powerful set of tools to help in major and secondary tasks for file transfer and storage. Their reliability is extraordinary if we compare to other systems. In 8 years of work, I had only two serious cases of filesystem crash (!). And one of them was overcome because these guys are excellent developers. Their filesystem is an excellent piece of art. I know this because I had to see a whole GB in hexadecimal to recover it. FAT is a Frankenstein compared to it.

    What about NDS? It is GENERATIONS ahead of anyone else. When you have thousands of users working on a a fileserver system it is a life in the clouds compared to the dumb NT file sharing world. And their emulation of 95/NT workstation administration, is several orders ahead of Microsoft. Under NDS you can administer stations, users and several other resources through an easy centralized interface with a level of control much higher than M$. In fact NDS is supposed to center all system administration around itself. And it does this in a way that can be only classified as "highly positive". Maybe it possesses some drawbacks. One of them that NT stations do not work better with it...

    In the mean time there are some things that are not well with Novell. First its overlook on Linux. Until now I haven't seen tools and resources on Linux that could be compared to the Windows ones. Things are still too raw here. Second its closed source environment. Sincerly this is what hinders Novell. Developers and experts are few due to this situation. Yes they distribute SDK's, tools, docs and have a powerful support for developers. But the fact that they sell an "extravagant OS" in such way blows the whole thing.

    Anyway I would say that this is a closed source OS that deserves a good look. Note: file server services work with the new Linux kernel and things seem not bad in preformance. This is not NFS.
  • ... just think, a DOOM interface for NetWare...

    Load your NLMs by selecting weapons. Kill user connections by blasting marine zombies. Run DSREPAIR by destroying the Cyberdemon.

    It would be like that Jurassic Park scene where the mad haX0r kid runs the park through a virtual reality environment only with much more blood and Spider Masterminds.

    Kind of like this: http://www.cs.unm.edu/~dlchao/flake/do om/ [unm.edu].

    J
  • does Novell have an ace in the hole that will guarantee some future revenues?

    Strong existing user base. That's an ace in anyone's ... ahem...nevermind.

    Yes, it's eroding. Yes, it's aging. But, it is there.

    At least Novell made it longer than Bayan Vines!

    Now hiring experienced client- & server-side developers

  • Point #1 is why institutions are contemplating switching to a Windows network.

    Point #2: Samba is only good for about 100 users. Check out www.networkcomputing.com They have an article from a few months back about Linux/NetWare/and NT-2000 and what stands up or what shakes out. Linux works, but still isn't ready for enterprise adminstration and still needs Samba tuned to hold 500+ users per box.

    We have a P133 Netware 5.0 box that holds 200+ users on IP and IPX. AND a Ppro box that holds IP, IPX, and AppleTalk users on Netware 5.0 that never needs rebooting. Netware may be old, but it works well!

    Mike
  • It is a bad idea to keep relying on one product in the software industry. Eventually the interesting features get duplicated in competing products. That's why you have to keep innovating. MS understands this and is moving away from relying on just OS/office sales. They know it is a dying market. Linux and other free alternatives are setting the price for a lot of types of software: free (0$).

    I wouldn't go as far as to say that novell is doomed (right now), but if they don't come with something new, they will become more and more irrelevant. Probably they'll be bought up at some time.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 27, 2000 @08:39AM (#670124)
    I have to do this as an Anonymous Coward lest I be lynched by all /.ers. My real life job is as a Software Licensing Specialist (hey I didn't make the job title up). So as a direct descendent of some evil force I thought I'd give you some info re:the cost of Netware vs Winnt for a school. Both of these examples use each companies respective volume license programs The situation: a school system has just built a new building which has 500 desktops and 1 server (numbers pulled out of the air). We'll assume this ia a k-12 school as Novell is currently running a promo for k-12 districts (as opposed to say colleges). Netware 5.1 Each building will need: qty 1 k-12 promo(server w/100 CALs) $885 qty 2 250 client add on $5430 each (this actually over licenses them, but it is cheaper to do that than to hit exactly 400 additional users) TOTAL=$11,745.00 Win2000 qty 1 server license $125 qty 500 CALs $6.60 each qty 1 media to install the server $24.95 TOTAL=3449.95 I'm not on one side of the issue or the other, just thought you might want an example of pricing. FYI part numbers for all of the above are: Novell server promo 00662644370217 250 user addon 00662644364940 Microsoft server license C11-00822 client license C78-00481 media kit C11-00049 Anonymous for my protection :)
  • by guenth (83197) on Friday October 27, 2000 @08:44AM (#670127)
    I work in a university environment. We have a mixed environment with labs containing dual boot Linux/Win2K machines and Solaris boxes. We also have some NT 4.0 machines and a bunch of 9x boxes. We have Netware, Solaris, NT, and Linux servers. We are using Novell's NDS Corporate Edition. This allows us to have one account/password for each user that will work on all of our platforms. All of the passwords are stored in NDS and authentication between clients and the NDS servers is encrypted. I am pretty happy with this product. The weakest part seems to be in Novell's documentation (another area that Novell has historically struggled a bit in). NDS seems to be VERY "durable", but it requires a bit of experience to properly maintain.

    I also don't think that you can directly compare NDS and LDAP. LDAP is a protocol to access a directory (and is supported by NDS). NDS is a distributed directory service. I know that NDS has been tested with a billion users (granted this was on a real-no-kidding-around server). NDS can also run natively on Linux and Solaris. I have also heard rumors of other platforms being included. There is also a product (I believe developed at Clemson University) called Authserv that will interface with NDS and allow authentication on about any platform you'd like (including mainframes).

    We also use Novell's Zenworks to distribute applications to our Win9x/NT/2K boxes. This is a very slick package. The newest version of it supports imaging (side note -- they are using Linux boot disks to do this!).

    Netware itself is not all that special. It is very stable -- my Unix boxes and my Netware boxes both stay up unless I take them down on purpose. However, it is just a file and print sharing OS at heart. In my opinion NDS and Zenworks are Novells two strongest products (groupwise is kinda nice, but I don't feel that it is as on the same level as NDS or Zen).

    Having said all of that, I believe the company is in big trouble. I would like to see them come out of it, but this seems unlikely. To me the best possible outcome is for a company (hmmm, RedHat for instance) to buy them and keep NDS and Zen alive.

    Novell has had a lot of good ideas and sound products. They have done a really lousy job of marking them, however. NDS has been around for years, but there are a lot more people familiar with Active Directory than NDS (even though, in my opinion, NDS is a far superior directory service). Similarly MS started looking at ZEN and seems to be trying to counter with ZAN. Novell starts talking about "One Net" and Microsoft comes out with ".NET". The difference is MS can market themselves and Novell can't -- even after cleaning house in the marketing department. Their TV commercials don't seem to be very effective at describing what it is that Novell can do. It just seems to me to be a case of too little, too late.

    I don't think that the company is going to go belly up anytime soon, but with their stock so cheap someone is likely to buy them. I just hope that when they do, they don't screw up NDS. It would be very great if a Linux company did buy them and then made NDS opensource, but that would probably make my life too easy...
  • by jafac (1449) on Friday October 27, 2000 @09:07AM (#670139) Homepage
    I agree with you that NDS is the greatest thing since sliced bread (to the enterprise).

    However, when you've got to go to the client side, and install the Novell Client everywhere, and different versions of Novell Client break stuff left and right, it quickly becomes a nightmare in an NT environment.

    I'm not saying that Novell writes crappy clients. In fact, I believe the opposite is true, when you look at all the cool stuff you can configure on these clients, the Microsoft Networking client doesn't come close. But Microsoft is constantly changing stuff with their OS, and while MS can manage to keep versions from Win95, 98, ME, NT 3.5 4.0, W2k, more or less working, you add NDS and Novell Clients to the mix and the result is an unsupportable nightmare. It's just a sad fact that Microsoft out-flanked Novell on the desktop. (Novell realized this when they bought DRDOS, and WP, but it was too late, by that time, Win95 was almost nigh - Novell DOS 7 kicked ass, but it didn't kick enough ass against Win95). Once Microsoft controlled the desktop, and kept Novell scrambling by constantly breaking the client, the battle was all over. My CNE is toilet paper now.
  • by RebornData (25811) on Friday October 27, 2000 @09:15AM (#670142)
    Although you'd never know it from the IT industry trade rags, there are a number of "dark corners" in the industry where technologies that have fallen outside of the hype mainstream continue to be successful for long periods of time without a lot of exposure. The press thrives on controversy- the fate of a company relative to its competitors is often portrayed as an "all-or-nothing" proposition, while reality is quite a bit more complex.

    IBM seems to accumulate these dark corners- AS/400 and Lotus Domino spring to mind. There are LOTS of folks using these things, and are very happy with them. This is mostly because IBM and Lotus have focused their product development based largely on the feedback of their customers and less on the strategic hypewagon predictions of the analysts. These technologies don't necessarily conform much to the "mainstream" way of doing things- hands-on Notes experience is not going to transfer to running a sendmail system in any way, shape or form. This means that the communities and the people within them remain isolated... AS/400 companies look for AS/400 administrators, and there's not a lot of cross-pollination.

    I think Netware represents another one of these niches. Novell has been focused on meeting the needs expressed by its current customer base, and the technology they have has evolved "differently" because of it. Unfortunately, they don't have the market muscle of IBM to continue this indefinitely... as has been pointed out several times already in the thread, NDS is the only possible strategic salvation for the company.

    Unfortunately, NDS is stuck between a rock and a hard place. It can't compete in the low-end directory market because AD comes "free" with NT and does a servicable (if inferior) job for the bulk of the folks that would need it. At the high-end of the market, enterprises are biased towards big-iron / UNIX X.500 directory systems- Novell still brings up images of "lan servers" and 386s in many minds.

    So I wouldn't count on NDS (cool as it may be) to save Novell. But I wouldn't count on Novel spontaneously combusting anytime soon either... unless there are major financial issues, they've got a loyal market segment whose needs they meet, and will continue to pay them as long as that remains true. Barring any financial stupidity by Novell's management, they can continue to ride this... and there's always the chance they'll come up with something that will put them back into the limelight.
  • It's bad form to assume someone/something is "down and out" just because you haven't heard anything from them. I would suggest going to their website (www.novell.com [novell.com]) to research them yourself before making blanket assumptions.

    Novell has $1Billion in the bank and no debt (and has been debt-free for quite some time), which is better than most of the dotcoms you hear about every day.

    Novell has an HUGE installed base that is generally very happy with their products. Because their products are so technically good, they generally run for YEARS and don't require a constant schedule of patching/upgrading/paying more money for them, which actually works against Novell (in comparison to MS) for revenue.

    Most of their current product line is cutting-edge, and often is technically superior to ANY alternatives (including Linux/Open Sourced ones!). Their BorderManager product (cache/proxy/auth/rev. proxy/etc.) is excellent. Their GroupWise product (multi-platform Groupware) has been top-notch for years, and I prefer it to Exchange (duh!), Notes, and POP/IMAP-based systems. Netware 5+ (5.1 was released about a YEAR ago--5 has been around for almost 2.5 years) supports the NCP protocol via PureIP (not encapsulated NetBIOS like SMB) and does it with amazing elegance and grace (using SLP to "find" the NDS tree, then walking the tree for information about resources, rather than using broadcasts). And NDS (renamed "eDirectory"), the jewel in their crown, is beautiful. (They're practically GIVING AWAY NDS for Linux, by the way... It'd be really nice to start MANAGING all of those Linux boxes without having to use NIS...)

    Smartly, they're putting more of their focus on developing products that leverage NDS (including the ones listed above). Check out stuff like ZENworks (best desktop management software available anywhere), NetPublisher, SingleSignOn, and all of their public/private key infrastructure technology. Additionally, they're porting practically everything (management tools & back-end server components) to Java (remember Java?) as Netware 5 runs Java faster than just about anything.

    Their problems have always been (and continue to be) twofold:

    1) They lack the mindshare that "exciting" companies have. Even when they are technically innovative, no one thinks of them first because they're still stuck thinking that they only make "old fileservers." Every time MS forces users to upgrade or releases a patch to fix yet another security hole, their mindshare increases. Novell doesn't have those problems (not as many), and so they tend to fade into the background...

    2) Novell has always targeted their products toward the "geeks." Their technology is always really cool and cutting-edge, but it is often too complex to easily explain to CIOs/CFOs and other cheif decision makers who rely on traderags and full-page ads to make their choices. I've been working with NDS for about 5 years--5 years ago, it was very difficult to convey to people what a directory WAS, let alone how NDS could save a company tons of money and time. It's hard to capture that technology into a short blurb or advertisement. So the geeks continue to love Novell products, and the CIOs/CFOs continue to steamroll over Novell's stuff with MS's stuff...

    Even with all of that said, they'll be around for a while... I was once concerned, but realize there will always be a market for their technology.

    (What the hell is up with this micro-sized editor window?)

  • Why would you have to retrain the workers? Do they really know DOS or just the application?

    Just port the app to Linux using ncurses... the core logic would probably be identical, except easier since you wouldn't run into 640K memory limitations.

    Of course, if it ain't broke don't fix it. If the DOS machines are stable enough (<2 reboots/day), Just keep 'em until they die. Be aware, however that MS is dropping support for DOS and will eventually drop DOS altogether.

    "Free your mind and your ass will follow"

  • [I work at novell in the San Jose office]

    Ok, here are the facts, I love this speculation!

    We actually own the whole campus right there (set of four buildings right next to the big red post that says "Novell/BMC Software". We own all the buildings, but we occupy only the front one just off 87 and 1st.

    The other buildings are leased out, and one is the Silicon Valley convention center.

    We never built on the open field next to the campus because it is a protected habitat for burrowing owls (no joke) that we had to relocate from the original campus.

    I love my job. I work with cool technology every day. Novell books about $800 million dollars in revenue per year, and we have a loyal customer base. The products I'm working on are platform independent, cutting edge, and interesting.

    -Twid

  • Novell may die, but it won't be because it's market share is eroded by NT/2000 or Linux.

    The people who have written something on this article that have provided (+1 Informative) information seem to have a clue as to how Novell works and what it is useful for. The people who have written (+1 Interesting) comments saying that Novel will be replaced by zillions of other available systems, seem to be ...light on facts about Novel and have user - if any - experience with novel.

    Lets set some things in perspective. Novell is very powerful as internet and intranet construction. It is *surprise* not intuitively obvious to use effectively. It is not useful for setting up a personal dorm room LAN, because it is designed for much larger businesses - not 4 or 5 computers. The price tag to accompany this software which will be used for 4 or 5 computers makes it equally useless to the average college student. Some students will wind up working for a campus computer center, but very few will actually have any interaction with the servers. For this reason, few college students (and even fewer high school students) ever have an interaction with novel above and beyond the [CTRL+ALT+SHEEP] sign to log in.

    So, your print server for 9,000 students at a state institution seems a bit slow during peak hours? Hmmm... thats like at least 8,000 people more than the majority of businesses have that use Novell. I'd argue just about anything is slow when 9,000 people are all trying to do it at the same time.

    Let me skip back to something I mentioned earlier. Some college students do get Novell administrator duties at colleges - and do get experience. I remind you though, they are getting experience. That means, more than likely, they're screwing up the network (accidentally) and getting the experience from someone who *may or may not* know how to fix it. Have you ever considered how little state institution employees are paid? and how little educators are paid as well (in comparrison to PhDs in the workforce)? IT workers who usually work at a school do it for some combination of the following three reasons: #1 they enjoy the people they work with, #2 they went to the school and can't leave yet (afraid of the real world), and #3 the other jobs they qualified for involved flipping burgers. I'd like to think most people fall into the #1 category, but lets face it there are a few who obviously didn't...

    So, for the most part academia networks are set up by a bunch of idiots leading around snot nosed kids who screw things up. You wonder why your print server sucks?

    Now we'll actually touch the print server issue. YES, the PRINT SERVER IS ANTIQUATED. That does not mean that it is no longer used, just that #1 people can't afford to switch it over to a better system immediately, #2 it is too low a priority to switch it over immediately, and/or #3 they do not know how to switch it over. 'Nuf said on that topic.

    However what has this all meant? Students who have not actively sought out good experiences with novell will never really understand its full merrits. Therefore, they will not make the effort to learn it, and when they are actually designing IT architectures, they probably will fail to include it as a product.

    The old guard (and by that I mean over the age of 25) who have had experience with novell, will eventually get a higher paying job, or change fields, or retire, or what have you... basically be put out to pasture... Regardless, their experience will probably not be spread as widely as more companies start up "Novell Free" and it is slowly avoided as the college and hs students of today become the managers of tomorrow.

    So, rather than say "Novell sucks... so its going to die." why don't you learn it and recognize its power? Novell is no longer frontline news or cutting technology, but it certainly needs to be recognized for what it is and what it does better.
  • One thing Novell has going for it is a huge installed base. Especially in higher ed institutions. This gives Novell a lot of inertia. While they can go only so far without some serious innovation, they can coast long enough to find a new niche, or perhaps, even a purpose.

  • Novell should create or enhance a Linux distribution ("Novell Linux"). They would then port NDS, ZEN Works etc to the platform. These might (ZEN) or not (NDS) be commercially purchased products. Novell used to make a lot of its money from support and they could certainly do that as a Linux shop. They should be developing something to port or provide runtime emulation for NLMs to run with Linux beneath them. Microsoft is the only remaining company that can sell a proprietary OS to a large market (and its days doing that may be numbered). Look at Banyan VINES, SCO, OSF-1, OS/2, CP/M. All dead. OS's that come bundled with a vendors hardware is another matter as it is a captive OS sale (Mac OS, Solaris, HP/UX, MVS, OS/400) and it should noted that HP is emphasising NT over HP/UX and IBM is widening support for Linux. The world will always have niche OSs but there will be only 2 widespead OSs in the near future (Windows and Linux). That does not leave much room for Netware. Novell talks about becoming a network services company. Well, they can have a "reference" platform for their goods and it should be Linux.
  • by twitter (104583) on Friday October 27, 2000 @11:49AM (#670166) Homepage Journal

    TOTAL=3449.95
    PERIOD = 1
    DO 10 WHILE (MICROSOFT:SUCKS)

    1. crash(hairLoss,sleepLoss,faceLoss)
      upgrade TOTAL=TOTAL + (1+interest*PERIOD)*TOTAL
      wait (PERIOD)
    10 CONTINUE

    Evil indeed. Just thought you would appreciate another perspective as much as I did, oh child of SATAN.

  • Yes, NDS is basically a superset of LDAP. Unfortunately for Novell most people are more than happy to either:

    A) Use someone else's LDAP server (including the freely available OpenLDAP).

    B) Use Microsoft's Active Directory.

    NDS is only being used by those sites that are already Novell faithful. And the number of Novell faithful is shrinking, not growing. Since sales drives profits Novell has to either charge their existing customers more money, or they have to cut costs.

    I personally believe that it is the beginning of a long dark night for Novell. Soon Netware will be in the same boat as Banyan Vines. They still will have some good technology, but no one will care.

  • NDS will likely fail to become the defacto directory because it is an extra cost add-on to Windows 2000, which already has a directory built into it. Shops that are all Windows 2000 will be unlikely fork out extra money for something that already exists in Windows 2000 -- the fact that NDS does it better, more completely, etc will be largely irrelevant.

    Places that want a directory system above and beyond Windows 2000 (for Solaris, mainframes, etc) may buy into NDS, but those places won't be enough to guarantee NDS ubiquity.

    ADS may be an inferior product but by the very virtue of its ubiquity it will be sucessful and cloned or have other products made to successfully interact with it. Look at Samba vs. MARS-NWE.

    I often wonder if NDS supporters (like me) really want NDS per se, or just a good directory solution. ADS seems to be weak relative to NDS, but I keep asking myself what the cost buying into NDS will be 2 or 4 years down the road, especially if Novell's business suffers and NDS gets bought out by a third party.

  • How about a real answer. This'll never get moderated up to the point where you'll see it, though, because I posted it too late.

    NDS is a strong, LDAP & TCP/IP based directory solution directly competing with AD and X500. It is extensible and more robust than any other currently shipping complete solution (which is not the same as saying robust). NDS is a port of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints' "FLAME" database and as such has some odd features based more on religious faith than technology.

    NDS is multi-platform (including linux and nasty old solaris) and scalable. Like, really, really, really, scalable, literally billions of user objects have been demo'd at Brainshare in Utah. I saw it with my own eyes, as did thousands of other beer-deprived Brainsappers.

    NDS and the ICS caching solution are the products intended to keep Novell on the map. Unfortunately for them, a couple of Novell renegades have set up Timpanogas group to create MANOS which is to be a drop-in netware OSS clone. The CEO of Timpanogas, Jeff Murkey (rhymes with Stef Mirkey) is reportedly a gifted coder and was at one time developing native NDS for linux. He got in a spat with Alan and Linus over kernel debuggers, though, and took his football home with him.

    Anyway, Novell is in fine shape if Timpanogas can be kept from releasing true NDS clones under a GPL. If not, they have a long time to get a new product going, because of their large installed base. High-end sites will prefer ICS to squid for performance reasons for some time to come, and the Groupwise product (one of those bloated total office solution thingies) hasn't yet alienated their entire customer base.

    --Charlie
  • If you worked in a business enviroment like a grocery store,you would realise using Novell as a file server makes sense.Novell isn't going anywhere.Novell provides a great secure file server in such applications.Especially since a lot of programs used in such cases run in DOS,it's a great solution.Linux isn't worth it due to retraining the workers. .

    Unfortunately for Novell existing Netware installations don't really help them out. After all, they have already taken your money. If you continue using your DOS solution forever then you might as well have switched to another operating system as far as Novell is concerned. Linux may be able to get by on sheer market share, but Novell needs to make new sales to stay in business.

    Besides, while Netware makes a great file server, and their directory is nifty, it's not what people are using to develop the next generation of software. Eventually your supermarket is going to want to upgrade to a new accounting package, or a new point of sale system and that new package is not going to run on Netware. So you will either have hire admins who know both Netware and something else, or you will have to ditch Netware and use your new OS for file and print as well as application serving. I think that you will find that every OS in the world does an acceptable job at file and print serving. Netware has specialized in a field where just about everyone has an offering that is "good enough."

    Novell is also losing the training war. It used to be that Novell's army of CNEs were their biggest salesforce. Nowadays these same people are MCSEs, and are actively campaigning to yank out Netware (because it makes them money).

    Novell is dead, it's only a matter of time.

  • No no, I meant how do they know that the backups are working at all? Quite honestly, your attitude is frightening to me. :-)
  • L is for lightweight in the protocol, not the backend. And the lightweight is only in comparison to X500.

    Dave :)

  • Yet another mindless inaccurate post moderated up to 5 because it says something bad about linux. What the hell kind of a windows compatibility does netware offer that linux does not?

    A Dick and a Bush .. You know somebody's gonna get screwed.

  • Why the hell you need ACLs in the first place. Most netware shops I know use groups for permissions. Don't tell me you are assigning individual files rights to individual users. Are you?

    A Dick and a Bush .. You know somebody's gonna get screwed.

  • eliminating net taxes hurts the local business people in your town. It encourages the consumers to shop in other states. Eliminating net taxes will kill most cities in the US as more money flows to tech centers where large etailers live.

    A Dick and a Bush .. You know somebody's gonna get screwed.

  • Doh no kidding. My point was that you don't need ACLS if youare going to assign rights by groups anyways.

    A Dick and a Bush .. You know somebody's gonna get screwed.

  • NDS has been Novell's bulldog since the middle of the 90's. As far as I know, professionals with a large workstage will choose NDS rather than ADS. In any case. NDS is much more advanced to be just put apart for whatever reasons. The risk of developing a large network based on ADS core technologies is too big to play. ADS is not only years behind as it is a technological generation behind the first versions of NDS.
    The problem remains with newbies. They may risk to enter into a Win00 only world. However they will surely enter the pitfalls of ADS. There I can see two solutions. Either they decide mixed technologies where such solutions like NIS+ and NDS are introduced. Or they blow up their networks. Turn them into the "Future of Developers" picture. Yeah it may be not so bad for users. They will jump from tree to tree and eat bananas...

    PS: "Future of Developers" was a popular picture back in 95 that showed up after the launch of Win95. Its popularity was due to the fact that Microsoft took a few steps towards its software base that were a full blow against the independent development. Small developers suffered the most and many gave up programming. The picture of Middle Age skulls, lined in a shelf, turned into a obligatory desktop item then.
  • Sounds like you need to look around for better K12 pricing! I've installed probably 40 NetWare servers in K12. The K12 pricing for a 500 user NetWare 5.1 license is $995. They also have incredibly cheap prices on their other products like ZENworks, etc.

    +3? Amazing what people will mod up without even knowing if it's true.

    I would bet that the vast majority of the people who have written posts about how Novell is already dead, or will be soon, have never touched a Novell server. I've been doing admin on them since 2.2. Nothing is more stable, nothing is faster(on similiar hardware), nothing is more SECURE, nothing is as easy to administer.

    Sure, it's not sexy, but it works and is rock solid. Please don't comment on the death of a company or product that you know absolutely nothing about.
  • This story prompted a little research and I ran across this [nwfusion.com] ; article which alludes to a rather interesting possibility:

    The company's recent announcement of a partnership with Red Hat Software on further development of eDirectory for Linux and Red Hat's commitment to using eDirectory on its forthcoming Red Hat Network is an interesting development. At the press conference I asked Schmidt whether any merger or acquisition discussions were ongoing between Novell and Red Hat and was told (per Securities and Exchange Commission rules), "I can't talk about that, either to say yes or no." After a short pause, Schmidt added, "We like them a lot."

  • I've read most of the higher-rated comments here, and they have missed an ENORMOUS advantage Novell has in the ISP/ASP frontier:
    Their Internet Caching System.

    Novell figured out several years ago that their BorderManager server scaled better on static page serving via its caching services than most web servers did. They placed two BorderManager servers in a reverse-proxy setup in *front* of their own web servers, and watched their web servers be able to serve up DRAMATICALLY more pages than they could alone.

    They created a development effort to strip down BorderManager, rebuild the file system into a BTREE, and parlay this caching service into an integrated, vendor-only hardware/software solution to leverage into a platform. They have largely succeeded.

    We have two Compaq boxes running Novell's Internet Caching System. ICS is not something you can just buy off the shelf. It's heavily engineered for the systems on which it runs. Let me share some statistics.

    One of our web sites has, historically, run over 4 million hits per day (www.excitestores.com, if you're interested). ICS reduced our number of Apache processes running from about 30-60 at any given time to *7* (that's 5 base HTTPD processes, plus two). The memory load dropped tremendously, and ICS achieved a 94% page hit ration in this reverse-proxy setup, with a 57% byte hit ratio. This means that our e-commerce setup, which heretofore required 10 web servers to service, now only requires TWO, plus two ICS boxes. And the load on the ICS boxes has never passed 5% CPU utilization.

    ICS also does some other pretty amazing things. It can "SSL-ize" content, so you store your certificates on the cache server and you don't need to compile mod_ssl for Apache (which, in case you didn't know, is a HUGE hit on your CPU). You can arrange content delivery to remote sites (ala Akamai's service) and have enormous bandwidth savings. You can leverage the ability of the box to intelligently handle your traffic and scale to over 100,000 simultaneous connections (Our Apache daemons, at about 10 MB each on a box with 2GB of memory, are far more limited than that).

    Suffice to say, I believe that Novell has a long and prosperous future ahead of it. We evaluated many different caching technologies, and chose ICS over Squid and several proprietary solutions; even in our UNIX-savvy environment (all our production services run on UNIX except the caches), ICS won out. Novell has already learned the lesson Linux is starting to: success comes, not necessarily in being the best at what you do, but being darn good at an awful lot of things. Their recent staffing cutbacks reflect the changes in strategy from a "software company" to a "solutions company".

    DISCLAIMERS:
    I do not work for Novell. I have just purchased their products because of technical superiority. Novell is fighting an uphill battle to get into a company dominated by Solaris and Linux. So don't assume I'm a troll because I like what I see : )

    Matt Barnson

  • Clarification in order here:
    NDS *predated* LDAP.
    NDS evolved because of X.500 and DAP (Directory Access Protol)'s weaknesses (principally, the reliance on a tiered directory request system that didn't work well.) Novell replaced X.500's proxy request system for authentication with a "referral" system -- allowing one NDS server to refer a client to another NDS server's resources without making the request itself.
    The standards bodies took some of the best ideas from DAP and NDS, revised them to suit their ideas of how it should work, and created "DAP Light", or LDAP.

    So LDAP came about because of NDS -- not the other way around. Now NDS supports LDAP, too, and everyone benefits.

    Matt Barnson

  • Please don't comment on the death of a company or product that you know absolutely nothing about.

    Maybe that's the problem right there, very few nerd types know all that much about it. That alone should say volumes for the amount of market share it presently enjoys.
  • The numbers the previous poster had for Netware seem more like retail numbers than educational numbers.

    Nothing is more stable, nothing is faster(on similiar hardware), nothing is more SECURE, nothing is as easy to administer.
    If you're talking about averaging all those factors together, then I'd have to agree with you. But individually, UNIX servers are often more stable. Faster is subjective to what you're doing. For security, Netware isn't nearly as exposed and tested than the other operating systems out there, but for what Netware servers are most often used for, it's more than adequate. It generally keeps users out who shouldn't be accessing the system, and for schools, it keeps nosy kids from messing with what they shouldn't. And as for easy to administer, I have to agree, although unlike NT, not any fool can do it, you do need to have some idea of what you're doing.

    I think the biggest reason why you find them in schools so much is they just work. They sit in a back room somewhere, and do their job, day in and day out, needing little or no maintainance. And that's probably the biggest reason -- Netware servers pretty much manage themselves. You leave them alone, they keep working. However, I can't count the number of times I've seen an abend and have had to reboot the server to recover.

  • $40 per machine is a decent trade if you dont have the time or expertise to keep things up to date on a Linux based lab. Plus the compatibility is an incredible benefit for students.

    You dont have to like it.. but updating a Windows box doesnt get any easer than Windows Update. YES I know about similiar package systems for linux distros, but by and large, its so very easy for Windows machines to be updated and managed somewhat effecitivly by a stressed out, overworked, under paid sys-admin.

    For me, thats clearly worth the $40/box.

  • Many schools continue to use Netware because of the huge educational discounts given them. It would cost too much money to switch to NT, and Linux servers don't have good enough Windows compatibility for them.
    Netware is also much more stable and secure - NDS being a wonderful way to administer multiserver networks (AD sucks, and NDS on NT sucks almost as much, and involves paying TWICE for each user, once to M$oft and once to Not-well). But for straight File-and-print from Windoze boxen, Nothing much beats a Novell server.
    Do not EVER run anything on it though - particularly databases; pre-5.0 the lack of virtual memory was a killer, and even in 5.0 the performance you will get is so poor you are better off buying a separate box and running your DB under linux.
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  • Usually, they are just not obtainable - at least in the uk. We recently *had* to upgrade one of our servers just so we could allocate its licences to the rest of the farm - as 4.11 licences are no longer on sale here. Netware 3 is awkward for licencing anyhow - in contrast with NW4 (where each licence is a separate file and you can move them from server to server, provided you respect the chain and don't try installing any one twice) NW3 had the licence hardcoded into the server.exe, and an "upgrade licence" was a proggy that actually PATCHED that exe with the new licence (after getting an auth code via fax from Novell) Personally, I wouldn't touch 3.x again if I was paid to - 4 was just a quantum leap up from there. However, 5 isn't much if any of an improvement (it has virtual memory and a gui, yes, but I don't need those) And I could do without *having* to upgrade my software just because Novell decide they want me to.
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  • Unfortunately for your argument, this is a case where Novell *does* do well. Win2K comes close in terms of remote-admin and file permissions, but only to the extent of matching the EARLY 4.0 releases. When it comes to user/file permissions management, Novell rocks.
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  • Actually, yes.
    Not in general (anything long-term requires a group, I agree) but if you have six files on a usergroup's departmental subdir, and need to set up (for each one) one (different) user with r/w permissions, you do *not* create six new groups - it's unneeded clutter in your NDS namespace that will come back to bite you.
    If you have a large number of users with identical permissions: use a group
    If you have a single (or $SMALLNUM) user(s) with several logically grouped permissions (like a DB admin that has write to all the database files) then use a role.
    Otherwise, it's a oneoff, 1-1 relationship and I don't NEED extra items in my NDS tree, confusing the Helpdeskers and giving me an extra six pages to scroll though when looking for something I need to edit.
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  • Point #1 is why institutions are contemplating switching to a Windows network.
    No, thats mostly marketing. Regardless of how good a price you get, there are better and cheaper (although probably not both :+) alternatives to microsoft. and once the Microsoft infection sets in, you are on a forth-bridge treadmill of upgrades and more MS purchases to keep it running.

    Point #2: Samba is only good for about 100 users. Linux works, but still isn't ready for enterprise adminstration and still needs Samba tuned to hold 500+ users per box.
    A lot varies based on machine spec and tuning, but I agree - Linux still isn't ready to be a windoze-networked fileshare box. NDS for Linux (if Novell cut the prices to the point it is worth the money) should make enterprise admin a breeze, though.

    We have a P133 Netware 5.0 box that holds 200+ users on IP and IPX. AND a Ppro box that holds IP, IPX, and AppleTalk users on Netware 5.0 that never needs rebooting. Netware may be old, but it works well!
    Yep, Netware is still my OS-of-choice for Straight File-and-print on windoze client networks. C|O|M|P|A|Q unixen or linux are a better choice for databases though, and webserving/proxying.
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  • As long as Novell has huge customers like us paying for their overpriced products, they aren't going anywhere.
    Yep. Novell is *almost* worth the prices they ask for it - and once you have it, you consider anyone suggesting getting rid of it certifiably insane :+)
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  • Novell have been in a position of power for too long - they are used to having a propriatory OS with a propriatory network protocol and drivers, and charging what they like for what they choose to give you.
    I'm sorry Novell, but that just ain't true anymore; you are losing market share rapidly to Microsoft and Linux, have been forced to adopt TCP/IP or die, and in fact have done everything *but* cut prices to try and prevent this slide. Well, guess what the *right* option was? Now all you have to worry about is, when do you do it and is it already too late?
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  • If Netware 3.11 was perfect software, then everybody would be installing it. When was the last time you heard of Netware servers being added instead of merely maintained? I suppose it must happen, but not often.
    I have, and do. In any novell-based company, the majority of usage is maintainance - maybe the odd hardware upgrade or system unit replacement, more storage, more and better networking, but unless the number of users goes up drastically, a Novell box will take all they can throw at it. Novell's licencing scheme actually DISCOURAGES and even punishes purchasing new servers - even in the "brave new world" of single signon multiserver NDS, it is still a case of buying a new licence per user when you buy a new server, and that is usually the biggest expense. If you upgrade the existing server to the latest and baddest CPU/memory/storage, then it works out much cheaper. I'm sorry, but Novell just haven't looked out the window lately - it *used* to be cheaper to buy a new copy of Netware for a new box than to try and upgrade the current one to match it's capacity, but these days the Netware licence is the biggest expense in that sort of upgrade, and any beancounter will avoid it like the plague.
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  • I would certainly agree that Novell has the directory. And while I haven't worked at an NDS shop myself, I have seen the powerful benefits demonstrated, and am truly impressed. However, a powerful directory system didn't save Banyan Vines, and it won't save Netware either.

    The problem is that Novell is getting precisely zero developer mindshare. Seriously, I would bet there are more people working on software for the Apple ][ than there are non-Novell employees working on Netware applications. This means that no matter what Novell does, or how cool their directory may be companies are almost going to have to use some other OS for their application servers. This means that your admins have to know both Netware and some other NOS. Even worse, while neither Active Directory nor OpenLDAP are nearly as cool as NDS, they are both considerably less expensive, and there are signs that for most people they have already entered the realm of "good enough." How many of us really need to manage a billion resources? If there is one common meme in the computer industry it is that the less expensive product that is "good enough" always wins. There are literally hundreds of examples of this phenomenon.

    Remember, while market share is certainly important to Novell, market share doesn't put bread on the table. Novell doesn't need happy customers, they need sales. Every happy Novell customer that is purchasing new licenses might as well be migrating to Linux for as much good as they are doing Novell. Marketing would probably help, but unfortunately they have effectively lost their biggest and most powerful marketing tool, CNEs. Nowadays the people that used to get a CNE are getting an MCSE, and they are basically trying to sell Microsoft solutions. So Novell gets overlooked.

  • Let's see, product that works, superbly documented, support site and line that actually gives a flying fuck about solving problems and support for every desktop platform you're likely to see in service. And lo! It's cheaper than running an NT shop, and everything in it is (or can be, at least) worked with open standards etc.

    I grant you, I ain't running a particularly big network with it (three servers, prox 70 hosts of various kinds) but if - like me - you've got another job to do when you ain't fixing, it's a godsend. I'd have bought it at three times the price.

    Classic example of why I like Novell so much: before I arrived, the network had run three years with precisely zero maintenance and a configuration that was an absolute disgrace. In that time, it had had one (1) outage. Nice.

    Maybe, if I was doing the systems full-time, I'd want to be working with a Unix set-up of one sort or another. That's a hypothetical, though - I haven't any need for that kind of power and felxibility in an environment where all I need is a really, really reliable file server or three.

    That aside, I'd rather bite off my own genitals than use any other NOS. I should imagine that there are a lot of other guys running networks in small business environments who feel the same way

  • This is, albeit on a larger scale, my experience. It works, it keeps working, and you can bolt anything you damned well please onto it. As long as they keep making those sales, Novell will keep going.

    I don't think the Apple comparison is as near the mark as it could be. Novell haven't made half as many major strategic blunders as they could have done, and the one they did make (hanging on to IPX after it outlived its usefulness) they seem to be dealing with rather effectively. Novell's problem is Microsoft's sales force, who are rather better at their jobs than Novell's crowd. I've had six sales pitches for NT in as many weeks from people I called for advice on wholly different topice. I'm discovering that there's a limit to the number of times I can say "been there, done that, don't want it again" without resorting to violence.

  • Moderation Totals:Offtopic=1, Flamebait=1, Funny=2, Total=4.

    Perhaps there is no Slashdot mentality [slashdot.org] after all.

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  • Great! I'll just run right out and replace all my printers with NDPS-aware ones right away!

    Of course, FedEx will have to raise it's rate to pay for this. How does $150 per package sound?

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  • Hardly any net taxes exist, doofus; and most cities in the US still exist.

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  • hell, even Banyan is still around in some form

    Banyan are now trading as ePresence, effectivly no more than a M$ reseller, dealing in web services.

    The old VINES product has just about been discontinued, the last version (8.6) is still being sold, but not activly developed. Most sites that I worked with have migrated elsewhere.

    Banyan had many failings - zero marketing, launching new products (Netware and Unix ports) too early, poor tech-support (particularly in the last few years) and some ghastly bugs (file system corruption from clients running codepage 850 was a really nasty one).

  • Speaking as someone who works (with a Novell box in the basement) in one of those smaller firms, I find that the backups get used about every other week as a quick and convenient way of restoring a directory that someone has deleted by mistake. Yes, I know I can set the permissions to prevent this, but the backup tests are useful. For precisely the reasons here enumerated.

  • Fair enough that NDS predated LDAP, but X.500 has both 'proxying' (called chaining) *and* referrals. Referrals didn't get added to LDAP for a while but I'm pretty sure they were in X.500 back in its first incarnation in 1988.

    There are lots of issues with X.500, primarily to do with the fact that no-one wanted to implement DAP on the client (and what is a 'generic' directory client for anyway? :-)

    What Novell did was implement an X.500 server (NDS) with a specific *purpose* (user, server and printer management) but none of the X.500 access protocols (DAP, DSP etc). (They didn't need to - they put their own client protocols into OS extensions).

    Later on they added LDAP and ended up with a nice Directory with some X.500 strengths and LDAP access.

    Directories are becoming important. Novell have a nice solution because they have got some X.500 features in there. X.500 vendors have some nice solutions as well, but nothing like Novell's market presence in that arena.

    [OK - so I work for an X.500 vendor. So shoot me.]

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