Free NDS licences key to Novell's future

The free distribution of Novell Directory Services should help boost the company's market share, according to an analyst.

Novell's announcement that it will freely distribute its source code and licences for Novell Directory Services (NDS) will help boost the company's marketshare if vendors take the bait, according to an industry analyst.

"This is an initiative which is fundamental to the entire future of Novell," says Tom Kucharvy of Summit Strategies in Boston. "The question is whether it will be sufficient to develop an installed base and the type of momentum around it, or whether so much of the interest has drifted away that customers will yawn."

Novell can only perpetuate NetWare's existence by establishing NDS as a broad market standard, but Novell needs partners to be successful, Kucharvy says. Novell's partners to-date are Hewett-Packard and The Santa Cruz Operation, which have agreed to integrate NDS directly into their operating systems.

With the announcement, Novell may be able to attract vendors who will develop low-cost add-ons that will allow their own systems to integrate into Novell environments more seamlessly.

"The question becomes whether there is enough value in what Novell wants to sell around this installed base of razors to get people to buy the razorblades," or applications such as GroupWise and third-party add-ons, Kucharvy says. "The more popular NDS becomes, they hope to pull in NetWare sales and add-on sales."

While other vendors are eyeing the market potential of selling directories as servers or embedding them in proprietary operating systems, Novell plans to seed the market with NDS for directory-based applications, a Novell statement says.

"Our business strategy is to make NDS the universally adopted directory by operating system vendors, ISVs (independent software vendors) and ISPs (internet service providers)," Tom Arthur, vice-president and general manager of Novell's Internet Infrastructure division, says.

"It's important to get our business model out there and make the industry understand that Novell is embracing open standards and completely embracing the Microsoft product line, as well," he says.

Novell says it would offer a royalty-free distribution licence for a single server binary version of NDS on Windows NT, with early release set for later this year and a final version due out by October 1997.

Novell is on the World Wide Web at http://www.novell.com.

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