I’ve had some Novell posts creeping into my blog recently and you can expect that to continue.
I’m not even sure how many people have even heard of Novell anymore, but at one time they were a pioneer in networked computing. With NetWare and eDirectory (or Novell Directory Services) they were well ahead of Microsoft (and in some ways, still ahead of Microsoft) for networked enterprises.
With Microsoft now firmly in the “no one gets fired for using Microsoft” area of enterprise computing which IBM enjoyed back in the 80s and early 90s, Novell has steadily seen its star fall and in 2011 was consumed by the Attachmate Group and taken private, stripped of SUSE (now a separate entity within the Attachmate Group), divested of some other technologies (many of which were moved over to NetIQ, another Attachmate Group entity), and refocused on their core competencies.
At least that is how the story is being told now.
At Martin Luther College we still use Novell NetWare 6.5 as the backbone of both our networked file and identity management/authentication services. Our main file server was put into production the summer I began working in Network Services … 2005. During that time it has been rock-solid. While you won’t find their name splashed across all of the latest IT websites nor talked about with excited tones around Twitter, the technology itself servers a vital purpose and is incredibly stable.
But why am I talking about a company who, admittedly, had its 15 minutes of fame 20+ years ago?
While we might want to talk wistfully about all of the latest technologies and dream of a future where we can just beam everything back-and-forth without needing to kill trees, those days are not here yet and they might never be here either.
There is still a need for managed file serving, printing, directories, access management, etc. Those days are not behind us, they are here right now and the need to be able to handle all of those needs for differing groups of people still needs to be done. While we can’t ignore the future, we also can’t deny the present because you’ll end up with a lot of really ticked off people.
With iPrint, Open Enterprise Server, Identity Manager, and other “old” technologies you get some really compelling options to handle those needs. I’ll even admit that I want to spin up an instance of GroupWise just to see what it is like! In the rush to do away with the “old” maybe we’ve left some good things behind … or maybe those old things have been keeping up and we’ve been too jaded to see it!
Maybe even better than the old technologies is where Novell is heading with their new products. Filr is the one I really have my eyes on at the moment. The idea of adding Dropbox-like capabilities to our internal file servers is almost too much to pass up! With their iPrint Appliance, mobile printing is brought to our old, steady, stable of laser printers. Novell is offering the ability to take us from the past into the future of a mobile, collaborative technology without the need to completely rely on third party providers to do so.
I’ve had the privilege of sitting in on some TTP presentation recently and the roadmaps are looking good as well. I’m cautiously optimistic about the future of Novell and NetIQ and I think SUSE has really taken off recently. I’m watching what SUSE Linux Enterprise 12 is going to bring to the table.
Maybe most of all, I want Novell to succeed because they stand as an alternative to much larger, more entrenched players (namely Microsoft). Novell has a name which has been around since the very late 70s and has a rich history.
Their technologies also tend to “play nicely with others” better than their competitors. Open Enterprise Server has SUSE Linux Enterprise Server as its base operating system. Their appliances are all based off of SLES. They tend to try to accommodate Microsoft along with open source technologies. They want you to be able to use a piece of Novell technology, if you want to, with your own.
It is an irrational reason to cheer for a company. If Company A has great technology you shouldn’t necessarily cheer for Company B and Company C just to keep competitors in the market but that is what I want. I want a strong, vibrant market surrounding all sectors of information technology so that all of the players are being pressured or else we will end up with stagnant, terrible solutions to real problems we need to be solving.
So that is why I am talking about Novell. We are planning the rollout of more Novell technologies in the future and I hope to be able to continue to play around with what they offer along with their sister-companies.
I fully understand that the name “Novell” is essentially dead within the realm of the “it crowd”, but I implore people to come and take a look again and what Novell is offering and where the company is going. I think, right now, there is a lot to like and the future looks like there will be even more to come.