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Frankenberg cites five keys to Novell's future

Novell wants to make the network smarter

By integrating the Lightweight

May  1996
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Novell Inc. Chairman and CEO Robert Frankenberg outlined the five key thrusts that make up the company's current strategy. Speaking at the BrainShare Europe 96 user conference in Nice, France at the end of April, Frankenberg said, "We are now the only networking-only company in the market."

  1. The first of Novell's strategies is to make the network smarter. "The predominant view of the network today is that there are smart clients and smart servers and a dumb wire connecting them. We think that it possible to make that wire a lot smarter," said Frankenberg.

    Novell aims to do this in part by integrating the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) standard into the Novell Directory Services. "Some other things that will help make the network smarter is to make it possible for any client to access any server," said Frankenberg.

    "In the past Novell has focused too tightly on connecting Unix servers and too tightly on connecting a subset of clients," he said. "This next year you will see a Windows NT client that is much more capable."

    Before the end of the year Novell will provide NetWare services for NT Server, which "Microsoft admitted recently is badly needed," Frankenberg said.

    "The way that will work is that it will require the presence of a NetWare server somewhere on the network," he explained. "When someone finds that they need access to the directory, software on the NT, Unix, or mainframe server will redirect the requests out over the network in exactly the same way that [it does] file and print requests."

    Novell will also put directory services directly onto NT, a capability that will become available next year, said Frankenberg.


    With the next releases of NetWare and ManageWise, Novell will put a strong focus on managing application software so that the user will be able to download, configure, and monitor its usage. Novell's commitment to rewrite the network operating system in Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Java programming language will contribute to making networks smarter, as will the company's deal with OpenMarket Inc., Frankenberg said.

  2. The second element in Novell's strategy is to interconnect smart LANs, linking them to the Internet or making them into intranets.

    "We pioneered the LAN market, and then we interconnected those LANs with wide area connectivity," he said. "The next step is to introduce Web servers that sit on top of NetWare."

    The NetWare Connect Service has made progress, according to Frankenberg. "There are 14 telecommunications providers around the world who represent 85 percent of the world's telephone users who are committed to NCS."

  3. Third in Novell's five-point plan is to make it significantly easier to develop networked applications. "This means standardizing the developer interfaces," said Frankenberg. Novell's goal is to develop a set of APIs (application programming interfaces) that will be the same across clients and servers.

  4. Fourth, Novell plans to make it significantly easier for the end user to use the network, by simplifying network interfaces.

    Novell plans to roll out the GroupWise services in much the same way that Lotus Development Corp. has attempted to do with Notes. "So e-mail, calendaring, scheduling, workflow and document management ... will be the interfaces rather than map drives, and URLs," he said. "We will also be making these services public and private so that the user will have access to them wherever they are."

  5. The fifth element in Novell's plan is to extend the network beyond PCs. The goal: "To extend it to all intelligent devices and in the process to make it a lot more valuable, and to provide the full range of connection so that the network can go to where all of us go," Frankenberg said, reiterating a point he has made frequently in the past.

Frankenberg blamed the company's falling share price on the desktop applications business acquired with WordPerfect Corp., and Novell's Unix business division. While the Unix business stayed flat from 1993 to 1995, he said, the desktop applications business shrank by $400 million between 1994 and 1995.

"Taking this into account, the company should have grown 19 percent last year instead of 2 percent," he said. "In fact we did $1.6 billion in networking software last year."

Those figures pointed inevitably in one direction, Frankenberg said. "So I concluded that instead of being in all these businesses [we should] be the best in networking and networking services."

While Novell marketed 192 different brands of software last year, this is changing, according to Tom Schuster, Novell managing director for Europe, the Middle East, and South Africa. "Now that we have shed the product divisions that we don't need, we will be focusing on power brands. These will be NetWare, GroupWise, ManageWise and NetWare Directory Services, Internet, and NetWare Connect Services," he added.

"There is a new Novell. It's very focused and very aware of the market out there," said Schuster.
--Niall McKay, IDG News Service, London Bureau

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