Novell to drop ZENworks from Linux tool bundle

Novell Inc. last week said it plans to use newly acquired systems management tools instead of including its own ZENworks technology in a Linux software package that's due to go into open beta testing next month.

At the company's BrainShare Europe 2003 conference in Barcelona, Spain, Novell officials said the Red Carpet tools developed by Boston-based Ximian Inc., which Novell bought last month, will be included in the Nterprise Linux Services 1.0 bundle. Red Carpet offers capabilities such as automated distribution of software updates and patches to servers. The bundle will also include file, print, messaging and directory services.

Novell had announced in June that ZENworks would be the management tool in the Nterprise Linux Services package. "ZENworks would have worked, but our engineers found Red Carpet was closer to meeting the needs of our customers," Novell spokesman Kevin Barney said last week when asked about the change.

At BrainShare, Novell also announced plans to release a suite of networking software for branch offices and upgrades of its Web application development and single sign-on products.

Several users in the U.S. said they were pleased to see Novell moving forward with its Linux strategy, which is intended eventually to result in the full NetWare services stack being made available on Linux systems.

"If NetWare file and print will run on Linux, that will be a hell of a direction to go," said Doug Boval, a systems engineer at St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis. Like other users, Boval said he hopes to begin testing the upcoming Linux software soon.

"A number of us here don't care for Microsoft products and don't want to pay exorbitant fees," added George Raetzke, a senior systems programmer at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. Raetzke is testing NetWare 6.5, the latest release of Novell's flagship product, for use by 20,000 students and staff members at the school. But he also wants to try Nterprise Linux Services.

Carl Ness, distributed information systems coordinator at Clarke College's Keller Computer Center in Dubuque, Iowa, also welcomed Novell's latest Linux announcement, but with some reservations.

"Novell is known for good software, and if they are building software for Linux, it's probably going to be top-notch," Ness said. "But despite what they say, a lot of people are still concerned they are dumping NetWare. A lot of system admins, in colleges as well as the corporate world, are still on the fence when it comes to moving mission-critical systems to Linux."

Laura DiDio, an analyst at The Yankee Group in Boston, described Novell's Linux strategy as a "me too" initiative that might not be as attractive as using software from more established Linux vendors like Red Hat Inc. or IBM Corp.

DiDio added that Novell has had trouble selling its software to large businesses in recent years. "Novell has the Midas touch in reverse: They take gold and turn it into dust," she said.

In response, Richard Maddox, director of product marketing at Novell, said the company is counting on Linux to help it rebound. "There might have been truth to the loss of enterprise customers, but since we announced Linux, we are slowing that down," Maddox said. "Linux will bring us to a brand-new world."

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