NetWare 6.5 excites users

New Zealand beta-testers have found much to like about the latest version of Novell’s showpiece product, NetWare.

NetWare 6.5, due for release in just over a week, is impressing early users particularly with its web features, data synchronisation ability and added application support.

Alister Leask, senior systems consultant at Auckland University of Technology, says the organisation has run 6.5 a few times.

“We’ve had a look at a few features and there’s definitely some good stuff to be found.”

For AUT, one of the most useful features will be DirXML, he says. “It’s an engine that allows you to synchronise data with an e-directory using XML as the transfer method.”

The ability to link separate e-directories, using DirXML, is of particular interest, given such technology’s importance in identity management.

An upgrade to 6.5 will happen as soon as possible.

“We have a system that is in pre-production at the moment and as soon as we get 6.5 we’ll put it on the server because of the DirXML features.”

Brian Foster, network systems computer engineer at Auckland’s Unitec, says a decision is yet to be made whether to upgrade from NetWare 5.1 direct to 6.5, or to implement 6.0 instead.

“The next upgrade will be over Christmas-New Year. As an academic institution, we have a limited window for upgrades.”

Unitec hasn’t yet tested 6.5, but it plans to do so at some point. As a long time Novell user and member of the Auckland Novell users group, Foster has been closely following its development.

“There are a lot of things we’ll be looking at, the first of which will be the web-based features. We’ve just started to use native file sharing on 5.1, without a client, and that's built into 6.0 and 6.5. We’ll be looking a iPrint and iFolder, advanced features of 6.5 and will be placing more emphasis on web-based administration.”

Bill Lunam, senior engineer at consultants Kinetics Group, says 75% of the NetWare 6.0 servers he’s installed for clients were sold with upgrade protection in anticipation of a move to 6.5.

“Once people started to see the demo on the Novell website, they were keen.”

The web features of 6.0 were a big jump from 5.1, he says “and where Windows 2003 is heading is where 6.0 is now”.

As for 6.5, “I’m always a bit sceptical of betas and like to wait until the product comes out, but 6.5’s web features allow administrators to do most of the things they could do if they were in the office if they were lying on a beach in Fiji.”

Kinetics itself is planning an upgrade. “I’d be amazed if we don’t have 6.5 by Christmas. Our guys need access from the road without aVPN client.”

DirXML is also an attraction. “We’ll be looking into that next week and it’ll be integrated with the current job tracking system.”

NetWare 6.5 will be formally released on August 15. It is being touted by Novell as a step on the path to integration with Linux, with version 7.0, scheduled for release late next year, to feature full Linux support.

NetWare 6.5 features support for J2EE and many open source applications including Apache, MySQL, Perl, PHP and Tomcat.

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