Novell users hear of Telstra-Saturn setup snags

Novell might miss out on some services business following users banding together to help themselves.

Novell might miss out on some services business following users banding together to help themselves.

The Wellington branch of Novell Users International (NUI) was launched last week. Attendees of the inaugural gathering were looking forward to swapping notes on Novell products, perhaps saving themselves some Novell consulting fees, one frankly admitted.

The arrival of a Wellington chapter was “long overdue”, according to Alice McDonald of TechTonics.

She wasn’t alone in welcoming the arrival of a forum for Wellington Novell users, who will now be able to strengthen links with one another.

The group also sees itself as exerting pressure on Novell over problems and pushing for changes in policy, as needed.

The gap of 10 years between the founding of NUI in Auckland in 1991 and the eventual arrival of a Wellington contingent was largely a matter of getting the right people, say NUI president Alan Cobcroft and Novell New Zealand managing director Peter Revell — people willing to give their time and effort to keeping such a forum going.

The Wellington group is being co-ordinated by Tom Cummings, a teacher at Onslow College, who says schools often have complex networks. He took charge of the effort, he says, because he could see its value in channelling advice on such complexities among users and Novell itself.

The Wellington chapter will meet at least monthly, and expects to mount presentations from users, Novell representatives and third parties, much as the Auckland NUI does. Auckland, for example, recently arranged an address by an overseas Citrix visitor on Citrix products in a NetWare environment.

One significant regular feature will be a series of “hotlabs” offering hands-on experience with existing and new Novell products. These sessions will be open only to paid members of the group.

After a brief Novell presentation demonstrating the ease with which new staff could have their accounts configured into the network and their details automatically posted to all important locations in the system, under NetWare 6, the “user” speaker of last week’s meeting took the floor.

Daren Roberts was, until recently at least, a user — operations manager of TelstraSaturn. He is now at Novell Consulting, which, he says, was instrumental in finally bringing LAN links between Telstra and Saturn to fruition.

The Telstra — Saturn integration task was fraught with difficulties, both technical and in the management of relations between the two companies, says Roberts balancing Telstra’s concern for intergrity and standardisation of its own network with the need for ease of communication across all bases of the new company.

By Roberts’s account, Telstra was difficult to deal with, actively shutting Saturn out from straightforward connection to crucial parts of its network and forcing the use of indirect means to bring about such standard elements as a consistent and complete email network.

The frankness and technical detail of Roberts’s presentation, delegates agreed, signalled well for the value of future meetings.

Revell and Cummings denied that the presence of a heavy Novell contingent and the venue for the first meeting at Novell’s Wellington office could mean too cosy a relationship between Novell and the user group, deterring too strong criticism.

In future, Revell says, Novell might be present at the start of user group meetings, but will withdraw for the major part of the meeting, or when requested, to leave scope for frank discussion among the users alone.

A Christchurch chapter of NUI is currently being set up and a Napier branch is in the offing.

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