ISSUE 476: The high-tech office- Dec 8
Novell's Netware allows the smallest company
to enjoy the advantages of a network right now
In a recent column, we looked at several
updates for popular software products.
But, of course, not all updates are free. Just like Gillette,
which realized there was a fortune to be made in selling razors cheaply
if customers would keep buying the blades, software companies often
want to build a big user base so they can keep selling you upgrade
Unlike razor blades, however, one hopes software
upgrades provide added features to help you run your business better.
Otherwise, you can just keep using the same old software day in and day
Today, most business computers are networked.
Connecting computers to-
gether has a lot of advantages, even for the smallest of businesses.
Next week we'll look at the increasing options for connecting computers
in a home office or small business. But this week we're taking a peek
at the battle for the hearts, minds and wallets of large business
Until recently, to a large extent, local area networks
meant Novell Netware.
As with other product areas, we've seen a major push
by software giant Microsoft to redefine the playing field -- in
this case, to replace Netware with Windows NT Server. And while more
computers are still connected to Netware networks, NT has the allure of
There's been a sense that, as with desktop software
such as word processors and spreadsheets, there was no stopping the
Microsoft's next-generation product, recently renamed
Windows 2000 (formerly NT 5.0), isn't here yet. And efforts to produce
a stable product out of its huge 35 million lines of computer code are
Novell has been able to take advantage of Microsoft's
delay to produce a new and improved version of Netware. Unlike
Microsoft's renamed NT 5.0, Netware version 5.0 is here now, and offers
a number of real advantages for businesses that are currently networked
and those planning to install a network in the future.
Much of the potential for improving computer networks
lies in the rather abstract area of directory services. As business
networks grow and evolve, there are increasing numbers of users,
computers, printers and other resources.
Ideally, it would be easy for users to access the
resources they need. In fact, it's often difficult to keep track of
what's located where.
Hence directory services.
Novell's Directory Service already does a better job
of this than the awkward capabilities of Microsoft's current NT 4.0
Server. For the future, Microsoft is promising something called Active
However, Novell accurately points out that its NDS is
here now, and that it has already ironed out the bugs that are likely
in a first-generation product such as Microsoft's.
In addition, the company has made Netware 5.0 easier
to install and bundles with it a starter-pack version of Z.E.N. Works.
This latter product is aimed at helping companies control cost of
operation by using the network to gather hardware inventories,
distribute software, and control which applications various users can
Netware 5.0 has been redesigned for an
Internet-standard TCP/IP and includes Web server software. This makes
it easier to host Internet-like intranets within the enterprise and
enables a Netware network to communicate with other networks based on
NT or Unix computers.
Netware has always had a good reputation as a solid
file and printer server. The new version also better competes with NT
as an application server. Actual applications can be run directly from
the server on multiple client machines.
And there's a new version of Netware 4.2 aimed at
businesses with fewer than 100 employees that don't have much
experience setting up networks. This version aims to ease the pain of
getting a network set up and connected to the Internet. It is priced at
about $2,000 for the first five users, with upgrade pricing for
The bottom line is that with its new versions, Novell
remains a competitive player, offering businesses useful services
which, unlike the competition's promises, are available today. *