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VNU Net: Novell criticised over directory strategy

Apr 17, 2000, 13:48 (2 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Linda Leung)

By Linda Leung, VNU Net

Researcher Gartner has slated Novell for not giving away Novell Directory Services (NDS) free of charge to sew up the market before Microsoft launches Active Directory as part of Windows 2000.

Gartner research director Neil MacDonald said: "It's not about directory technology. The value is in the software and the management of directories. If Novell had given NDS away free it would be more successful selling directory-enabled management products because it would have already seeded the market."

Speaking at Gartner's US Spring Symposium in San Diego this week, MacDonald said the directory services market will disappear by 2003 as it becomes commoditised and that Novell should turn its attention to pushing directory-enabled management tools.

He also said that Novell is too reliant on Netware, which accounted for two thirds of the company's revenue in 1999, while products for the directory-enabled management space, the firm's biggest opportunity, contributed less than one per cent.

Netware will account for 37 per cent of sales by 2004, while directory management will pull in 14 per cent of revenue, said Gartner.

Novell will begin to lose network operating system market share to Microsoft by 2002, as organisations standardise on Windows NT and 2000, said MacDonald. Although this will not mean the immediate death of Novell, the networking company is not growing because of its inability to sell outside its large and loyal installed base.

"Novell should get revenue outside of Netware by moving to directory-enabled management, for example, but it will still have extreme difficulty targeting products outside its installed base with things that appeal to new customers, said MacDonald."

One market that has not been exploited is in companies with fewer than 3000 desktops where Microsoft is strong. Last year, 69 per cent of Novell's revenue came from companies with more than 3000 desktop systems, but this will grow to 78 per cent by 2004, predicts Gartner.

MacDonald said Novell's strength lies is its multi-platform support for NDS, but warned that not all versions are equal. For example, NDS running on Netware provides users with a comprehensive set of features, but users of IBM's OS/390 platform just get internet packet exchange (IPX) support, said MacDonald.

Despite Novell's promise to make all its products cross-platform under its directory enabled infrastructure model strategy announced last month, MacDonald said the company will drop support NDS' support ofAIX, HP-UX, Linux, OS/390 and SCO Unix by the end of 2004 as it becomes expensive to develop various version in a commodity market.

He said identity management also represents a good opportunity for Novell as this draws on its experience in directory services and as organisations move information policies beyond firewalls. One example of Novell's product in this space is Digitalme, which enables consumers to manage their identities on the web.

Gartner said Digitalme should either be spun off or absorbed into a larger initiative by the end of next year to ensure its success.

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