A brief history of NetWare

So you use NetWare everyday... but are you familiar with its history? In today's Daily Drill Down, John Sheesley will enlighten you with facts such as why Novell introduced NetWare, improvements the company has made, and what the product can do for you!

In the early 1990s, Novell extended the concept of a small single-server network with the introduction of NetWare 4. With the introduction of Novell Directory Services (NDS), Novell’s new network directory, network managers could cluster multiple servers into easily managed groups. Also, Novell introduced a GUI-based central management program called NetWare Administrator (NWAdmin). All the while, NetWare still provided the best file and print services for growing networks.

By the late 1990s, networks grew even larger. Networks that once were limited to a department here and there now suddenly found themselves connected to larger networks. Some networks were located within the same building; others were separated by continents and connected with WANs. And, of course, you can’t forget the impact of the Internet on business.

Novell reacted by releasing intraNetWare. The intraNetWare release included an improved version of NetWare 4.1 called NetWare 4.11. However, the name was misleading. The new version of NetWare included with intraNetWare was more than a tenth of a point revision—it included many enhancements that made the operating system easier to install, easier to operate, faster, and more stable. It also included the first fully 32-bit client for Windows-based workstations.

As the name intraNetWare implies, NetWare 4.11 made it easier to create intranets and link networks to the Internet. Novell bundled handy tools, such as the IPX/IP gateway, to ease the connection between IPX workstations and IP networks. And, for the first time, Novell included an application called Webserver, which lets you create and host Web sites on NetWare servers. It also began integrating Internet technologies and support through features such as natively hosted Dynamic Host Core Protocol (DHCP) and Domain Name System (DNS).

As Novell worked to improve NetWare and add capabilities to meet business needs, the target market continued to grow and change. Interest increased in linking large networks and attaching them to the Internet and WANs. Although NetWare was considered a strong choice for file and print services, businesses viewed the product as a weak choice for applications they wanted to deploy on their servers. End users’ storage and networking needs increased as databases and applications grew to sizes once unimaginable. Administrators wanted an easy way to tie things together and make managing large and complicated networks simpler. To address these needs and apparent weaknesses, Novell introduced NetWare 5.

But NetWare 5 isn’t alone. Other new network operating systems are appearing at a rapid clip. Microsoft is releasing Windows 2000 (a.k.a. NT 5.0); Sun has released new versions of Solaris; almost everywhere you turn, you hear about the latest version of Linux; even IBM is readying a Version 5 of Warp Server. But through it all, Novell has worked to make NetWare 5 the leader of the pack.

John Sheesley has been supporting networks since 1986 when he got his hands on NetWare 2.2. Since then, he’s worked with the Jefferson County Police Department in Louisville, KY. and Genlyte-Thomas Group. John’s been a technical writer for several leading publishers including TechRepublic, The Cobb Group, and ZDJournals. John can be reached at jsheesley@techrepublic.com.

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