Novell Inc’s NetWare is by some way the market leader in personal computer network operating systems, but the company has designs on much bigger fish than personal computers, believing that the desktop computer tail will very soon start wagging the mainframe dog. With that concept in mind, Novell this month unveiled its latest implementation of […]
Novell Inc’s NetWare is by some way the market leader in personal computer network operating systems, but the company has designs on much bigger fish than personal computers, believing that the desktop computer tail will very soon start wagging the mainframe dog. With that concept in mind, Novell this month unveiled its latest implementation of the operating system, Portable NetWare, developed with a bit of help from its friends NCR and Prime. Andy Evagora has been along to hear Novell’s UK chief Tony Scrivens explain the company’s ambitious strategy.
Novell Inc’s recently introduced Portable NetWare operating system (CI No 1,128) marks the latest in a series of attempts by the Provo, Utah company to heighten its already strong position in the personal computer networking market. Novell’s Portable NetWare is a version of its network operating system designed to be implemented on a variety of host processors; it will be licensed, as source code, to hardware manufacturers so that they can integrate it into their own systems. Portable NetWare’s development can be traced back to the introduction of Netware 2.15 for DEC’s flagship VMS operating system last year, and the subsequent NetWare for Macintosh release, which allowed Apple Macs into the Netware environment. Novell is confident enough to put Portable NetWare before X/Open Group Ltd as part of an attempt to get it adopted as a personal computer networking standard; in any case, the company sees it only as a matter of time before it becomes a de facto industry standard. Latest step Novell developed the portable networking system with NCR Corp and Prime Computer Inc; NCR was responsible for the Motorola 68000 family-based Tower processor, Prime the 80386-based EXL environment. Portable NetWare marks the latest step in the company’s strategy on personal computer networking. Tony Scrivens, head of Novell UK, which operates out of headquarters in Bracknell, Berkshire says that, in time, mainframes will become peripherals to personal computers, in contrast to what many in the industry may still believe. This trend will be combined with the rapid decline in the number of dumb terminals in corporate networks and the convergence of mini, mainframe and micro markets. Novell is eager to emphasise the initial industry support from computer manufacturers who will take licences to the system, and 25 companies endorsed Portable NetWare upon the system’s launch. The list of backers, in addition to Prime and NCR, includes Hewlett-Packard, Data General and Northern Telecom. Minicomputer manufacturers, whose products have been hit by improved personal computer and workstation perfomance, are eager to capitalise on Netware’s installed base of 350,000 systems – a number that even the company’s fiercest competitors concede represents over 60% of the market. Industry sources point out that system vendors are increasingly looking to the network computing market, which involves the clientserver processing of distributed applications. Furthermore, minimakers ignoring the relatively slow growth besetting the mini market do so at their peril, Novell believes: co-developer NCR has stated that serving personal computer local networks must form an important part of its long-term strategy. Novell and its partners are not, however, alone in hoping to capitalise on this industry trend: Hewlett-Packard and 3Com Corp already intend to work on similar networking products between minicomputer servers and workstations (CI No 1,122), and Novell’s endorsers and licensees may still give support to rival products from 3Com or IBM. Despite this, the company is confident that minimakers’ commercial efforts will initially centre on its own latest offering. Tony Scrivens highlights the inclusion of Unix as one particulary important milestone in Netware’s development; Novell has licensed Sun Microsystems’ Open Network Computing/Network File System Technology, ONC/NFS, which it says will assist it in the future support of NFS-based Unix workstations under NetWare. As for future Novell plans, server development will
continue to be a primary area of research, with the company looking to communications services, internetwork routing, store and foreword services, as well as file and print services. Its long-term goal is to provide the functionality of minicomputers and mainframes within a distributed processing environment. NetWare currently runs on its own file system in the 80286 environment, and on VMS in the VAX environment, though Novell says it will port NetWare and its file system to the 80386 environment, as well as running NetWare on OS/2 and other host based machines. Next line Novell also claims it is committed to both types of network servers, native-mode and host-based, explaining that this will allow it to supply smaller organisations as their networks grow. Four-year-old NetWare is supplied in entry level solution, advanced and system fault-tolerant versions; it is a 16-bit, protected mode operating system, having originally been designed on the Intel 80286. The company says its next line will be based on the 32-bit 80386 environment; it claims this will mean a threefold improvement in performance over the 286-based NetWare, including the amount of disk storage handled by a single server; the availability of fault-tolerant features would also improve reliability. Novell also has plans to extend support for IBM’s Server Message Block protocol, SMB, to NetWare under its own Open Protocol Technology, OPT, probably during 1990. It says this will allow OS/2 Extended Edition users to connect to NetWare in two ways, within the native NetWare environment, or within an IBM environment using the IBM requester. In the area of applications support, Novell says it will attempt to back network-aware, client-based and server-based network applications.