Novell hopes to extend its directory capabilities to the Internet with Novell Directory Services Version 8.0 (NDS 8.0), now in open beta testing.
According to Paul Corriveau, NDS product marketing manager for Novell, directory challenges on the Internet tend to be a bit different to those in the strictly enterprise space.
NDS focused previously on enterprise challenges -- "the corporate issues that companies have been addressing as far as integrating the multiple systems within their organisation", Corriveau said.
He said analysts were finding that no directory met the needs of both the enterprise and the Internet, so companies were buying NDS for the enterprise "and they were looking for alternative directories for the Internet environments for vertical scalability and the pure LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) support".
He said Novell found that customers didn't really want to build multiple infrastructures and have two separate directories in order to do e-commerce successfully. Novell decided to eliminate the need for two different directories.
One of the aims of NDS 8.0, therefore, is to allow companies to grow their businesses without interruption and build the necessary infrastructure for highly centralised directory applications, such as those required for electronic commerce.
Scalability is the main improvement Novell is boasting for NDS 8.0. The company says it has the ability to store and manage millions more users, applications, network devices and data than earlier versions of NDS.
Monty Sharma, chief technology officer for Maritime Telegraph and Telephone Co. (MT&T) in Halifax, said increased scalability is indeed the thing he's most excited about.
"We're a phone company and we're engaged in delivering DSL access to our customers' homes and businesses," he said. "They're able to rent software applications -- we host applications for them, we host messaging services for them -- and you need a really large directory to be able to handle it."
He said NDS 8.0 is going to be much more capable of handling his scalability needs. "The past version gave up to a million, maybe 2 million (objects) reliably," he said. "At BrainShare, we saw Version 8.0 run a billion objects."
But Neil MacDonald, analyst at Gartner Group, said that while Novell is pushing scalability as the number one improvement, he thought the most significant change in NDS 8.0 was the embracing of LDAP as a native protocol.
He said he doesn't get a lot of calls complaining about the lack of scalability from Novell -- he thinks Novell is doing a fairly good job with that so far, and it's only natural to move forward and expand that scalability.
But from a marketing standpoint, Novell wants to position itself against Microsoft's Active Directory, expected to ship with Windows 2000 when it comes out.
"Active Directory has been making large scalability claims, which is surprising for a product that isn't out yet," MacDonald said. "So Novell is saying, 'All right, we have a good product, too, and we're also going to tout scalability'."
But the LDAP improvements, he said, are very significant. NDS 8.0 natively supports the directory standard LDAP Version 3.0, allowing interoperability with other LDAP-based directories and applications.
"I think people are just beginning to realise they need an LDAP-enabled infrastructure to be able to support directory-enabled applications," he said. "And people getting products from Oblix or Netegrity or VeriSign with the PKI products -- you need an LDAP-enabled infrastructure to support them, and the version that comes with NetWare 4.0 is not sufficient."
The version of NDS that shipped with NetWare 5.0 did add LDAP Version 3.0 support, but it was still a gateway, so the performance and scalability suffered, he said. "NDS 8.0 directly addresses that."
A licence to use an open beta of NDS 8.0 is available today at no cost. Existing NetWare 5.0 customers may download the beta from Novell's Web site at http://support.novell.com/beta/public.