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Novell President Joe Marengi wants to set the record straight: Novell is not "desperate" for business, NetWare is not a dying breed and Windows NT is not the de facto server standard. In fact, Marengi asserts that NetWare will be running on more than 8 million servers by the year 2000, twice as many as today. At the same time, Novell will "embrace and extend" NT with its famed directory services-with or without Microsoft's help. In an exclusive interview, Marengi spoke recently with NT Enterprise Edition editor Joe Panettieri about Novell's future, one that he claims will be as glorious as the company's past.
WinMag: Is Novell committed to supporting NT?
Marengi: Absolutely. We understand the world will be permeated with UNIX, NT and IntranetWare [a rebranded NetWare 4.11 with bundled Web software] servers. It's incumbent on us to embrace and extend NT and UNIX. For instance, we're working on Tabasco, which will synchronize NT domains with Novell Directory Services [NDS]. [Tabasco, now known as Novell Administrator for Windows NT, should be available by the time you read this. Use of the code name has been discontinued.-ed.]
WinMag: Novell is also porting NDS to Windows NT. How is that shaping up?
Marengi: Just fine. It's due to ship by midyear.
WinMag: Is Microsoft helping you do the port?
Marengi: It would be nice if Microsoft finally decided to cooperate and recognize our directory strategy. But they haven't. We're developing NDS for NT ourselves in-house. It would be really, really good if Microsoft supported that.
WinMag: How is Novell's relationship with Microsoft?
Marengi: Spotty. I don't think Microsoft is focusing on Novell these days. They've moved on to [battling] Oracle and Netscape. The bottom line is, we're looking at the Microsoft environment as something we need to support.
WinMag: Will software developers have to pay for NDS on NT?
Marengi: We'll give a free NT bindery version of NDS to any software or hardware developer who wants it. We're also giving a free copy of NDS to any UNIX vendor. The immediate press reaction to this strategy was, "Novell is desperate. They're giving away the corporate jewels!" What we were really doing is using the Java model. The directory needs to be ubiquitous if it is to be important on the Internet. The UNIX environment is a lock; we've got HP, SCO and Sun supporting NDS. Another partner [believed to be IBM-ed.] will be announced shortly.
And we'll ship the NT version of NDS shortly. We believe the world will be heterogeneous.
WinMag: Can Microsoft's Active Directory for NT 5.0, slated to ship sometime late this year, compete with NDS?
Marengi: You're talking about the year 2000 before Active Directory matures. In the meantime, what do people do for single-point administration and security? Talk to any large customer and the value in NDS is ease of administration. We're going to tie the whole world around NDS. People say that's impossible. It isn't, because we'll support open Internet standards like LDAP.
WinMag: Novell is also working on native Java support in NetWare. Will Java help improve NetWare's reputation as an application server?
Marengi: Java is coming on strong, and the Java development community is getting very large, very fast. We've just developed our first Java application [for] GroupWise. But Java won't solve the [application server] issue next week. The adoption of Java for mission-critical corporate applications is still 12 to 18 months away.
WinMag: How is NetWare selling?
Marengi: We shipped more than 250,000 servers last quarter, the most in the history of Novell. Obviously, people are still buying the product, but you'd never know it from the press coverage.
WinMag: What was the sales breakdown between NetWare 3.x and 4.x?
Marengi: NetWare 3.x is basically going away. It was less than 20 percent of sales. And about 70 percent of sales were new installations [of NetWare 4.x and IntranetWare]
WinMag: What type of future demand do you expect for NetWare?
Marengi: We've got about 4 million servers installed today. Our expectation is about 8 million by the year 2000. Will we maintain our market share? No. Obviously, NT will have made significant inroads. I acknowledge that, and we'll work with NT.
I also believe UNIX will remain very, very viable in the high-end scalable server world. Those three server platforms, and some niche operating systems, will exist as we move forward. We will, however, own our lion's share.