Open-source support initially made the headlines at BrainShare, Novell's annual conference, but the real news is that Novell spelled out its long-term plans for Zenworks, GroupWise, eDirectory, and other flagship networking products -- and these plans are ambitious, to say the least.
Beyond public proclamations of fuller open-source support, Novell is using its annual BrainShare conference to quietly spell out some of its long-term plans for Zenworks, GroupWise, eDirectory, and other flagship networking products. Aside from the Zenworks suite that shipped this week, Novell is now readying another Zen release, codenamed Zeus, that will roll in asset management, server provisioning, and seven other future services. Moreover, by the time Novell ships NetWare 7.0, Zen is expected to be running directly on Linux.
In a future release of N Secure Identity Management (Nsure), codenamed Apollo, Novell will give full-fledged support to identity management over extranets, through new role-based access rights to applications running on Web servers. Apollo is planned for this fall.
Meanwhile, although details are still being ironed out, Novell is also planning major architectural overhauls to eDirectory, as well as to both GroupWise, the company's collaborative messaging environment, and NetMail, its lighter-weight Web-based messaging system.
The forthcoming changes to eDirectory will revolve around the back end, officials said, during a series of meetings at the show in Salt Lake City. The changes will be announced within the next six to12 months and released within the next 18 to 24 months. At this point, Novell is testing migration of its Directory to SuSE Linux's UnitedLinux distribution.
For GroupWise and NetMail, a lighter-weight Web-based messaging system, Novell is now contemplating a more componentized architecture, which will possibly allow some mixing and matching between the two crossplatform environments.
"Messaging environments, though, are where people live," pointed out Howard V. Tayler, product manager, Novell Messaging and Business Solutions. A messaging announcement is expected from Novell in another three months or so.
Beyond Zenworks Suite
The new Zenworks suite that ships this week adds three new services to Zen's existing support for desktops, servers, and mobile devices.
Unveiled this week as part of the Novell Resource Management announcement, the trio of services includes personality migration, through the bundling of Miramar Systems' Desktop DNA product; data management, through Novell's own iFolder; and Web self-service.
The project codenamed Zeus, though, has not yet been officially announced. In Zeus, a release slated for 11 to 18 months from now, Novell will add support for nine more services: asset management; application installation and deployment; standards utilization; Web-based administration; server provisioning; branch office capabilities; inventory reporting; comprehensive status reporting; and Active Directory integration.
According to Deborah Martin, Zenworks' director of solutions marketing, the expansion of Zen's services place the product in a sweet spot between huge management environments like HP OpenView and IBM Tivoli and "niche applications" like Altiris and Novadyne. "Administrators will get all that they need, without getting what they don't need," Martin contended.
Novell's plans for Zen, however, are drawing mixed reactions from show attendees. During a customer/partner panel at BrainShare, Paul Anderson, CEO of NovaCoast, praised the convenience of the new Zen suite.
On the other hand, Matt Krieger, architect, Global Network Services at Reader's Digest, said he'd prefer to be able to select only those Zen components he wants, as opposed to buying the entire suite.
Zenworks already supports management of Linux servers. In the still unspecified NetWare 7.0 time frame, though, Zenworks will start to run on Linux servers, Martin said.
Novell's development of "next generation directory services" will be aimed mainly at removing "proprietary" elements that "don't impinge right now, but could impinge later on where we want to go," said Ted Haeger, identity services director in Novell Product Management.
Other possible enhancements to eDirectory might include event-based policy support and "loosening up the metadirectory," to let administrators prevent directory synchronization when the circumstances so warrant, for instance.
Over the shorter term, Novell will start bundling the Novell directory with NMAS, a major component of Nsure. "NMAS won't be separately available. You'll have to buy the Directory to get it," Haeger said.
For several months now, Novell has been talking about performing some sort of integration between GroupWise, a product now available for NetWare and Windows servers, and NetMail, which currently operates on NetWare, Solaris, and Linux servers.
This week, Howard V. Tayler, product manager, Messaging and Business Solutions, claimed Novell recently took the first major step in the new direction.
"We now have a Java-based client that will work across platforms, in addition to a full Windows client," he elaborated.
Messaging environments, however, need to fit in well with customers' work requirements, Tayler suggested: "We are starting to see Web and portal habitats, but e-mail is really the major habitat today."
"We're really happy with GroupWise. It just works. We couldn't use a product like NetMail, though, because corporate policies prohibit e-mail access from outside the firewall," corroborated another showgoer, Kelly R. Molen, who is a GroupWise administrator at Wyeth.
Tayler added that Novell is also eyeing unified messaging, teamware, and workflow capabilities for Novell's messaging environments at some point in the future. "We're well aware, though, that these technologies have their problems, and that not all of them are fully mature," he said.
Nsure Identity Management
A roadmap is already in place for Nsure, Novell's architecture for providing secure access to multiple applications, all with single sign-on.
This week, Novell announced the immediate availability of Liberty Alliance 1.1, as well as the expected availability of SAML in June. Both technologies provide "federated identities," letting administrators set up links that give end users single sign-on access among both internal and external Web sites.
Starting with Apollo, however, end user access to Web servers will become more individualized, with the addition of policy-based and role-based access rights, said Wendy Steinle, director of marketing, Novell Nsure Solutions.
In a somewhat similar vein, iManager -- the recent replacement for ConsoleOne in NetWare -- will add policy- and role-based access rights for administrative tasks in 2.0, the version of iManager that will come with NetWare 6.5.
Nsure already supports desktop authentication through the use of smart cards and fingerprint readers, as well as digital certificates and tokens. In another enhancement, Apollo will provide first-time server-side support for Nsure access through smart cards and biometrics.
Steinle added that NetWare 6.5 -- the new NOS slated to ship in July -- will include an Nsure starter pack, to give administrators a "subset" of Nsure's full identity management capabilities.
Some observers are predicting that with Novell's greater adoption of open source, engineering efforts around some of Novell's existing products might fall to the back burner. The sense of things at Brainshare, though, is that NetWare, Zen, GroupWise, eDirectory, and other long-time products are still piping hot priorities for Novell.
See All Articles by Columnist Jacqueline Emigh