Novell Penguin Blues
Why Linux can really help Novell.... and vice-versa.
(Second article in the serie about the 'resurrection' on Novell Netware as a viable Internet Server - first published @home: http://home.wanadoo.nl/muscetta/Novell_review.htm)
Microsoft has declared Novell's death some years ago... but is it really dead? Well... to me it looks alive and kicking ! Just to avoid any doubt, I do not work for Novell, and actually I have had quite a lot to do with Microsoft infrastructure in the past, and currently (I am even an MCSE, and one of the few people who managed to pass the 'Accellerated Exam' to upgrade my NT exams to Windows 2000). I like a lot open source software (which I use mainly privately for myself) and lately I had the possibility to use and appreciate also Novell's products.
Of course Novell is the first who takes advantage of he storm that's affecting Microsoft at the moment, and it is not ashamed of playing this card: What Microsoft doesn't want you to know http://www.novell.com/info/collatera...5/4621266.html But let's face it: it's true that Microsoft Security Management has become a pain. There are patches to be applied continuosly, and money to spend on antivirus to be saved from the 'Virus of the Week'...
Someone else has written: XPloring the alternatives: [...]It's easy to forget that if you run Windows you don't have to swallow the whole Microsoft package top-to-bottom. The same principle applies to network stacks as it does to email clients, browsers and office packages.[...] http://www.livingwithoutmicrosoft.or...rder=0&thold=0
What is happening ? What happened? How can the table twist around, or at least a less monopolistic market appear ?
Novell was easy and reliable in the old times. But it actually never stopped being. Microsoft just took over the market with its aggressive marketing and with the low prices of Windows NT.
I have already written in my previous article about Novell how I saw in Netware a viable alternative to the common duality Microsoft vs. Unix. Now, in a way I was right but at the same time I was wrong. Netware is not going to stay the way we've known it. It's already happening. A lot of effort has been made by Novell in making its platform Internet-ready, and to approach the open-source metodologies and market. Now, linux was already there, we all know. But companies were not taking it seriously. Companies are taking it seriously now, tough. Now, with linux pushing (since backened by HP and IBM, and Sun, among others), it has reached the enterprise market. And it is going to stay. Nobody really believes the SCO case will ever be a problem. They are just up to make a lot of noise.
What has Novell thought to do? Simple. Ride the wave, and embrace linux even more. This might seem rather an opportunistic choice, but let's face it: it can only be an advantage. Linux has reached the enterprise market (partially, but steadily more and more). It is widely used as a reliable server platform. It's taking a whole lot more time to push linux as a desktop, everyday use platform. To the normal users, the average joe, it still appears cumbersome to use, and not standardized enough. Centralized management solution are not there yet, or they are not integrated enough.
One thing that many will have noticed is the recent acquisition of Ximian by Novell. What does it mean? Novell had actually already a strong offering for linux, and its strong presence in the directory service market was already linux-enabled: you can already run eDirectory (former NDS) on a variety of platforms, from Windows to various Unices, including linux, other than the 'classic' Netware OS. A true, complex, and powerful directory service running on different plaforms, seamlessly integrated.
Novell is taking this strategy one step further: running Netware itself on a linux kernel. This means that my idea of running Apache on a Netware kernel is not going to keep us safe thank to the fact that few bugs are known in Netware (that would have been security through obscurity). Rather, Novell embracing linux means that it is now able to provide easy to manage solutions to those who are not ready (or don't want to) get their hands 'dirty' with using complicated unices flavous, but at the same time it gives people all around the world a better visibility of the code the company is using. If there is a bug discovered in linux, now you will know that Novell has most likely to patch it too. In the past, someone might have commented that you did not know about it because there was not enough research being made on the proprietary Netware. Good. This is not going to be like this anymore. The web server of choice is of course Apache, coupled with Tomcat, and also MySQL is now available on Netware: 'MySQL Ships as Standard Database with Novell's New NetWare 6.5' http://www.mysql.com/press/release_2003_29.html
Since this, you might say that Novell has only reacted to the wave of interest for linux, and provided his own server version of well-known open source software. Well, It is not just quite so. As we have seen, NOvell was already offering its linux-certified products : eDirectory and other products run on linux as commercial software, just like Oracle or other vendor do. And nobody seems to be disturbed by it. But there is more to come, and Ximian is the key to this. Can you imagine a strong linux server offer (that's already there), coupled with a strong linux client offer (that's coming, is growing) ? This is in my opinion Novell's 'Migration Plan". Because talking of Ximian we are talking of Evolution, the most famous clone of outlook for linux, that can also connect natively to Microsoft Exchange Server. And we are talking of the bigger project of Ximian redcarpet, which could deliver desktop management capabilities, integrated in the future in the leading ZEN Administation product from Novell. For those who might not know, ZEN (Zero Effort Networking) is a powerful management framework that can manage windows client centrally, in a fashion similar to Microsoft's Intellimirror technologies: registry based policies, software distribution, inventory, client imaging. It's nice to see how already now the client imaging uses a linux boot floppy to restore the image of a client, to provide an example of what has already been done. Their vision (in my opinion) is to be able to deliver for linux desktops the same level of centralized, policy-based desktop management capabilities they are able to deliver now for windows desktops. This explains why everybody is allowing them to jump on board that easily on the linux ship: they are developing strong partnerships with RedHat and SuSe, carrying on seminars with IBM, and even providing a linux certification program. This means that the major player in the linux market have accepted Novell as the company which might be able to deliver the 'missing link' in the 'linux on the enterprise' chain: server and destop integration, in a windows-like fashion, that is exactly what every windows administrator would love to keep, and that is keeping him from migrating to linux.. Most Microsoft customers are in fact nowaday less happy than they were of using redmonds' product, for various reasons: - the promise of being cheap has long ago vanished, and this has been taken to the extreme with the latest aggressive licensing policy; - the management of securty patches and updates has become a nightmare.
Moreover XIMIAN is developing MONO, that is an opensource version of .NET. Appealing, isn't it ?
There are people who might not like this. I even understand it. An I am not referring to Microsoft. I am referring to people who love and advocate free software. This behaviour does not look fair. It looks like the competition to Microsoft is trying to use all possible weapons to regain market, using (and abusing) open source software they did not create in the first place. This might be true, but to those who might not agree, being idealistic about linux... I have to say that unfortunately the dream of 'complete freedom' of software has already vanished. Haven't you noticed it already ? It would be great, in theory, but talking of IT is rather obviously talking of a market, rather than of just a hobby. And a market is where companies play. After all, RedHat is charging money for its up2date, while WindowsUpdate is still for free... ...you might say that other distributions don't charge people for the updates... but for how long is it really going to last? Companies have stepped in, and they are going to stay. I am not trying in any way to defend their position. I am just making an analisys of this phaenomenon.
I am thinking about this subject for a while now.
And it looks like I am not the only one who realized what's happening, but other reviewers are keeping themselves very cautious about their judgement, and want to see what's going to really happen: http://www.techweb.com/tech/network/20030627_network - 'Will Linux Revive Novell?'
In my opinion, a major integration of management capabilities on the destkops will be the final blow to strongly lead linux to the enterprise. This is why I think that obviously linux is making Novell stronger... but that Novell is making linux stronger too.
Would you bet on it ?
Disclaimer: The ideas presented are the author's ideas only. I do not endorse the use of any of the product mentioned, and the respective owners retain their copyrights. This document is not a substitute for competent professional advice. This information is presented as a guide on an "as-is" basis; all warranties of fitness for a particular purpose, either implied or otherwise are hereby disclaimed.
Note: there is an Italian version of this article on http://www.itvirtualcommunity.net/op...iew.asp?id=270
Original article: http://www.zone-h.org/en/news/read/id=3531/
Excellant review j.
I throw a few of my brief opinions in as well.
Novell still exists solely due to it strong base in small and medium companies. Why do they stick to one of the older Netware platforms? Because for the basics of any lan (file and print) there are still excellant today. They were indeed never really cheaper than microsoft but didn't suffer from the memory leaks and crashes NT did from the start.
So they were the first, most secure and the biggest on the block when it came to LAN's for small to medium size companies (which far out number large companies). They lost the lead when failing to continue to get 3rd party developers on board for apps and not recognizing the Internets role in business. Well they made some progress on 3rd party developers and made a giant leap in Internet services that never existed in the Novell product line before. This all in the last few years.
As far as Internet services (DNS, email, database, webserver and the service M$ reverse engineered NDS.) Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating everyone migrate over to Novell products but if the Novell trend continues M$ will have more than *nix to fight. All those small companies looking to partner up with major brand recognition and a new attitude will be look to get into Novell's pants.
BTW the main reason for past success of Netware, besides being first on the sceen, is its reputation for security. But like any OS if misconfigured it can be hacked by a 8th grader.