If you’ve ever seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail, you’ve probably seen the “Bring Out Your Dead” skit. Sometimes, life does indeed imitate art. Unfortunately in recent years, NetWare—and Novell in general—has been painted with the image of the old man in that sketch—tossed out onto the pile wailing, “But I’m not dead yet!”

As a NetWare administrator, you probably have to face anti-Novell bias from time to time in the press, from colleagues, and maybe even from your company’s upper management. In this Daily Feature, I’ll run down some of the reasons NetWare isn’t dead yet and give you my opinions on why Novell and NetWare still make a great choice for your organization.

NetWare is a network animal
What do I mean by a network animal? I call it that because of the services that you can run on it and the services it supports. This is the latest list of features for NetWare 5.1:

  • Securely develops, deploys, and manages Web applications with IBM WebSphere Application Server 3.0 for NetWare, Standard Edition.
  • Conveniently manages your server—anytime and anywhere—through NetWare Management Portal and a Web browser.
  • Establishes a pure IP environment, or keeps IPX-only servers for the highest possible security.
  • Strengthens e-business relationships with the highly scalable NDS eDirectory.
  • Increases interoperability with support for open standards and upgrades NDS more easily.
  • Automates workstation management and application deployment with ZENworks Starter Pack.
  • Includes the ConsoleOne utility.
  • Offers Web collaboration with WebDAV support.
  • Supports Microsoft Office 2000.
  • Enhances intranet applications and e-commerce sites with Novell’s JVM.
  • Provides the capacity and efficiency of NSS, a 64-bit file system.
  • Lets you develop Web applications for NetWare with NetWare Enterprise Web Server.
  • Includes NetWare FTP Server.
  • Includes NetWare News Server.
  • Lets you index and search Web sites with NetWare Web Search Server.
  • Provides access to multimedia files with NetWare MultiMedia Server.
  • Provides bidirectional communication between users, printers, and administrators with NDPS.
  • Manages the costs and congestion of WAN traffic with the WAN Traffic Manager.
  • Lets you develop and customize applications with Novell ScriptPages.
  • Lets you manage security and costs by minting certificates with Novell Certificate Server 2.0.
  • Allows the replacement of network interface cards while NetWare is running with Hot Plug PCI.
  • Includes a complete developer toolset.
  • Simplifies upgrades with Novell Upgrade Wizard.
  • Bridges IP and IPX worlds with Migration Agent.
  • Integrates DNS/DHCP services into NDS eDirectory for simplified administration of IP addresses.
  • Incorporates multilingual capabilities.
  • Runs on mixed-client networks.
  • Shares a pool of modems for Dial In/Dial Out that anyone connected to NetWare may use.

Who says NetWare isn’t an application server?
NetWare has always been such a great file and print server that it has been neglected as an application server. One of the frequent arguments against NetWare is that it is only good for file and print serving. Nothing could be further from the truth.

There are many popular products that use the power of your NetWare server. Most accounting packages support NetWare via a SQL engine. Two of the more popular SQL NLM-based engines are Pervasive SQL and Sybase SQL. Products such as Accpac Accounting software and Best! Software’s Fixed Asset packages run on top of these respective engines, and they use the brainpower of your NetWare server to get the job done. If you still have an accounting system that runs in a DOS window, NetWare will run it faster and more reliably than the others.

Let’s not forget faxing, which is an application, right? NetWare again excels here with Tobit and Faxserve.

NetWare does e-mail
The most popular e-mail system that runs on NetWare is GroupWise. GroupWise 5.5 can scale to tens of thousands of users and offers calendaring, scheduling, rules, folder sharing, and document management and routing. It’s also Web accessible with or without SSL. GroupWise 6, code-named Bulletproof, is due out soon and will have XML and Internet standards. GroupWise 6’s integrated XML infrastructure and support for Internet standards will allow smooth and easy integration between third-party products or services. We’re talking about things like virus-scanning tools and workflow applications. By using XML and Internet standards, you can use GroupWise to create complete Internet solutions. GroupWise 6 will have server-based APIs, allowing everything to be Web-based. Expect better features, security, and manageability.

NetWare does Internet firewalls
BorderManager Enterprise edition 3.5 is a great way to hook up to the Internet because it can be set up very securely. There are very few hacks and attacks for NetWare, and the server “looks out for itself.” If someone tries to open thousands of connections, drop them open, and grab more, NetWare will automatically close down the connections. The server itself can detect attacks and send an e-mail to you when someone is trying to break in or attack in some way. NetWare knows the TCP/IP stack really well, and it shows in this product.

One of the best services is the proxy. This offers secure controlled access to the Internet because the client Web browsers are set up to use the proxy, which is the TCP/IP address and port of the private NIC in the BorderManager server. When the user asks for a Web page, the server goes out and fetches the information and serves it to the browser. The server caches the Internet sites as you visit them and serves them up to you full speed if nothing has changed.

Cyberpatrol allows you to filter inappropriate Internet sites automatically. You can filter the types of sites your organization chooses, preventing users from visiting nonbusiness-related Web pages, for example.

NetWare does management
ZEN (Zero Effort Networks) 3.0 is the latest management offering from Novell. There’s a package for servers and a package for workstations. I love the workstation software. I have to administer and take care of a satellite office 500 miles away over a lowly 256-KB frame relay. I use ZENworks to remotely control the PCs there. It’s great because I can talk to the users over the phone, and they can see the screen as I click and/or navigate through it.

ZENworks does much more, such as keeping applications perfect, locking down user PC settings, controlling inventory, and managing profiles. These features are great for cutting down your administrative costs.

NetWare does directory services
It goes without saying that Novell and NetWare deploy the best network directory service currently in existence—NDS. This directory scales 10 times better than Microsoft Active Directory at one-fifth the size. It’s mature and proven, and it works very well for large environments. EDirectory from Novell doesn’t even require NetWare to be utilized. It has true multiplatform availability.

NetWare is stingy with server resources
NetWare doesn’t require as big a box to run as efficiently as Windows 2000. While you must sometimes run through many processors or much RAM with Windows 2000 to make it run acceptably, you don’t always have to do so with NetWare.

That’s not to say that you can’t run multiple processors on your NetWare server. NetWare 5.x handles multiple CPUs just fine. NetWare 6 is coming out soon, and it will offer highly engineered symmetrical processor, or SMP, support for servers with two to 32 CPUs. Many of the NLMs have been optimized for multiple CPUs. Expect this version to be very robust.

Windows 2000 has been out for almost a year now. In the crush of attention placed on Windows 2000, along with the general downturn in the entire technology industry, Novell and NetWare have been marginalized, to an extent. You can help cut through that noise when you know the facts. In this Daily Feature, I’ve given you some facts as to why NetWare is still very much alive, along with my own experiences and opinions on the matter.
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