Novell charts Web services Destiny

Novell Inc. Monday announced its Web services roadmap under the project name Destiny, but analysts don’t see the company making any inroads against established players like Microsoft Corp. and BEA Systems Inc.

The first indicator

of Novell’s interest in the Web services market came in May, when the company submitted a universal description, discovery and integration (UDDI) specification to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). The specification was designed to demonstrate how UDDI data can be used in conjunction with a lightweight directory access protocol (LDAP)-based database, such as Novell’s own eDirectory.

The May announcement was a “”preview”” for Destiny, said Ed Anderson, director of product management, directory services for Provo, Utah-based Novell. The company’s first UDDI software server will be released before the end of the year, two to three months after the next iteration of eDirectory (codenamed Falcon).

“”Essentially what we’re announcing with Destiny is the marrying together of the UDDI specification — which defines general Web service registry or Web service repository — with what we see as the key features of directory services,”” explained Anderson.

Last month, Novell announced its intent to buy Web services firm SilverStream for US$212 million, but the Destiny UDDI server will not share that company’s technology. “”As we complete the merger and bring the two companies together, we’ll have the opportunity to take a look at the technologies they (Silverstream) have built arround UDDI and see if there’s leverage,”” said Anderson.

Even after Novell has integrated SilverStream technology into its own offerings, it will still have a tough time making headway in the Web services market, said Giga Information Group analyst John Meyer. “”They’ll do well in some of the core markets where they have an existing user base, but will this put them back out front? The next 12 to 18 months will tell, but I’m a little skeptical,”” he said.

The integration of Novell and services company Cambridge Technology Partners illicited a similar response from the analyst community following the merger last year. Novell has a history of reinventing itself every few years, said Meyer. For example, the company put some weight behind directory services in 1999 with the launch of eDirectory.

“”The issue with Novell has always been around good ideas and poor execution. I guess that’s going to be the issue with this (Web services) one as well,”” added IDC Canada Ltd. analyst Dan McLean.

According to Anderson, the Destiny roadmap will help Novell deliver on its promise of modular product sets, first laid out at its BrainShare conference held last March. At the time, vice-chairman Chris Stone said Novell’s 163 offerings would be trimmed down to allow partners to do more solutions-based selling.

“”This is part of that consolidation effort where we’re trying to take competencies that we’ve spread throughout the company,”” said Anderson. “”That (UDDI) architecture will allow us the integrate some of these different product offerings together into a consolidated offering.””

As part of its 18-month Destiny roadmap, Novell will introduce three other product lines: dynamic identity, identity management for the Web; intelligent infrastructure, policy management built into eDirectory; and federated trust, sharing security information online.

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