Novell launches electronic-business push

Novell Inc. today made its long expected move into the business-to-business e-commerce market with the formal introduction of its iChain platform. The company also launched two new components in its ZENworks family of network management tools.

Novell iChain is built on Novell's NDS eDirectory. IChain will replace the monolithic corporate firewall by a flexible security structure that allows companies to give partners and customers customized access to services. It will include tools to set fine-grained access policies for users and groups of users, and to delegate management.

The iChain announcement places Novell in a select group of electronic-business technology providers, together with IBM, Microsoft Corp. and iPlanet (formerly known as the Sun/Netscape Alliance), said Michael Hoch, an analyst at Aberdeen Group Inc. in Boston.

Novell will sell iChain as a packaged product, but it will also be offered as a service by Novell and some of its partners. Novell hopes to see mixed revenue from software sales and a transaction-based pricing model.

IChain takes NDS, long established as an enterprise directory, outside of the corporate firewall. The announcement comes a week before Microsoft makes its belated entry into the directory space with the Active Directory component of Windows 2000.

IChain will be rolled out to certain Novell partners in the next 60 days, under what the company is terming a controlled release.

Novell also introduced ZENworks for Servers, a server management application that will ship next month, and ZENworks for Networks, which will allow network administrators to set policies to automate the management of network devices. Another new product, Novell eGuide, is described as a "white pages" for the Internet.

During presentations at the launch, Novell executives outlined the company's Net Services strategy, aimed at providing multiplatform, operating system-neutral services for the Internet. Apart from the operating system-neutral slant, the Net Services strategy bears a marked resemblance to the Next Generation Windows Services concept that Microsoft president and CEO Steve Ballmer outlined in a conference call last month.

"I like that they are tying everything together around this one (Net Services) idea," said Hoch. "They needed to move to a more solutions-based sell, which is what they are doing with iChain."

Novell also announced on Tuesday that Stewart Nelson has been appointed chief operating officer, taking over day-to-day management of the company from Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt.

Copyright © 2000 IDG Communications, Inc.

7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
Shop Tech Products at Amazon