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3/31/2005
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SmartAdvice: Look To Novell's Open Enterprise Server As Migration Path From NetWare

Moving to Open Enterprise Server will be the least-disruptive path as your company decides what operating system to go with in the future, The Advisory Council says. Also, some tips for beefing-up your presentation skills.

Editor's Note: Welcome to SmartAdvice, a weekly column by The Advisory Council (TAC), an advisory service firm. The feature answers two questions of core interest to you, ranging from leadership advice to enterprise strategies to how to deal with vendors. Submit questions directly to smartadvice@tacadvisory.com

Question A: Will Novell NetWare be a viable network operating system in the future?

Our advice: The short answer is that we do not expect NetWare to be a viable network operating system for the long term.

In fact, we're somewhat surprised that Novell has been able to coax as much life from the NetWare kernel technology as it has. Novell management clearly recognizes this issue, hence its commitment to an open-source strategy for the future. Novell's new open-source strategy is sound, revenue growth has returned, and the company is profitable -- but NetWare is the company's past, not its future.

Our primary recommendation as the strategically sound path-of-least-resistance for an enterprise with a large NetWare installed base is to migrate to Novell Open Enterprise Server as your network operating system. This will give you the least-disruptive upgrade path compared with alternatives such as other Linux versions or Microsoft Windows Server 2003, while repositioning yourselves on one of the two most likely long-term network operating system survivors (Linux and Windows). Novell itself refers to Open Enterprise Server as "the future of NetWare."

Addressing Concerns
Migrating from NetWare kernel technology to Open Enterprise Server would address several concerns:


Related Links
Novell Ships NetWare-Linux Combo Server Software

Novell Open Enterprise Server

PDF file: Upgrading Your Business To Novell Open Enterprise Server
Will there be adequate vendor support? A few years ago we were concerned about Novell's long-term viability, but at this point we consider the company stabilized and on a sound strategic track. It's clearly shifting its resources from the NetWare kernel to Linux. By 2010, we expect the NetWare kernel to be obsolete for purposes of Novell support. Even if Novell weren't to survive, being on a Linux kernel would make it easier to find support.

Will training for systems engineers be reasonably accessible? For the next several years this shouldn't be an issue for either the NetWare kernel or Linux. By the end of the decade, however, obtaining NetWare kernel training may be a serious issue. Given the momentum of Linux, you should have no difficulty finding Linux-trained SEs in the future.

Will there be adequate support for a mixed-platform client base? The answer to this clearly depends on what platforms are in the mix, but Open Enterprise Server is as likely to support mixed platforms as any other network operating system. The most problematic client would probably be Apple Mac OS X, but Open Enterprise Server is likely to support it at least as well as Windows servers would.

Should you, for whatever reason, not want to go the Novell Open Enterprise Server route, our other recommendations would be another Linux version, Windows, or a non-Linux Unix, in that order. In case it's not obvious from our comments above, we recommend against new deployments of NetWare 6.5.

--Peter Schay

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