With the arrival of the third beta for NetWare 6.5, Novell is getting closer to the release of the latest version of its network operating system. NetWare has changed significantly over the last few years, and NetWare 6.5 continues the transformation. From better open source support to 32-node cluster support, NetWare 6.5 includes a number of new features and enhancements for the administrator, the developer, and the end user.

Embrace the source
Although previous versions of NetWare have included support for open source products, NetWare 6.5 truly embraces them. The open source impact on NetWare will continue to be increased as future versions of the product provide the ability to use a Linux kernel.

NetWare 6.5’s Apache/MySQL/PHP (AMP) solution includes:

  • Apache 2.0.45
  • MySQL 4.0.12
  • Perl 5.8
  • PHP 4.2.3
  • Tomcat 4.1.18

After some false starts in the realms of Web and database servers, Novell may finally have a winning combination with AMP. Already used by many popular Web sites, the AMP solution puts NetWare in a solid position to become a player in the Web server market. One thing to note is that the ever-present Pervasive SQL software is indeed still shipped with NetWare 6.5.

Many organizations are still leery of Linux because of legal and/or security concerns, and because there’s no one to blame when the operating system crashes. NetWare has long been recognized as a reliable OS with solid corporate backing, and with the ability to run these newer versions of popular open source products, NetWare 6.5 has become a compelling platform for companies interested in open source Web applications.

Bring the office home
New in NetWare 6.5 is the concept of the “virtual office,” which melds many of the offerings from previous versions of the NOS, including iPrint, iFolders, eGuide, Virtual Teams, Web mail, Web search, password management, and personal Web page creation:

  • iPrint provides a flexible, intuitive printing environment.
  • iFolders provides access to files and folders anytime, anywhere.
  • eGuide enables users to search for name, numbers, addresses, etc., in eDirectory and from other data sources.
  • Virtual Teams provides a collaboration environment for teams that span the world. This component includes the ability to share folders among team members as well as a team calendar, team discussions, team favorites, a team Web page, and instant messaging.
  • Web mail is a Web-based interface into GroupWise, Microsoft Exchange, or Lotus Notes.
  • The Web search feature provides fast searching for files located anywhere.
  • Password management allows users to manage their own passwords using a browser.
  • Personal Web page provides a mechanism enabling users to quickly publish documents and other content to the Web.

Management features
NetWare 6.5 would be incomplete without iManager. Included in this new offering is iManager 2.0. Providing browser-based management for eDirectory, DNS, FTP, iPrint, iSCSI, Product Metering, Nsure UDDI, and NSS, iManager 2.0 can help unchain IT staff members from their desks and even from the office.

Also included in NetWare 6.5 is the Server Consolidation utility, which lessens the effort required to consolidate or upgrade servers—even NetWare servers of different versions all the way back to NetWare 4.x. (For more on this tool, take a look at this article.)

NetWare 6.5 also includes dramatic improvements to the previously feeble clustering services by allowing up to 32 machines in a single cluster. Previously, only two machines could form a cluster.

New installation paradigm
NetWare 6.5 introduces a new installation routine, with modules for different types of installations. Called “installation patterns,” these predefined server templates included in NetWare 6.5 are intended to expedite the installation of a particular type of system. For example, if you wanted to quickly install a new DNS/DHCP server or an AMP Web server, you could choose the preconfigured DNS/DHCP template or the NetWare AMP Server template options from the installation routine.

Bring on the apps
Besides good support for a number of open source initiatives and excellent support for Java applications, NetWare 6.5 includes the exteNd Application Server by virtue of Novell’s acquisition of Silverstream. With exteNd, IT staff can build applications based on almost any standard out there, including SOAP 1.1, LDAP, HTML, and J2EE.

NetWare 6.5 offers a compelling upgrade that extends open source support, simplifies management, and provides a more robust NOS. NetWare 6.5 now offers many of the same benefits of open source operating systems such as Linux, but with the clout of an incumbent vendor such as Novell and a well-weathered NOS such as NetWare standing behind it.