You’ve got to hand it to them—Microsoft certainly has put itself into the forefront of the minds of e-commerce businesses. When a lot of administrators think “Web server” they instantly think “Windows NT.” Is that because NT is a superior product, or is it due to clever marketing schemes? I’ll leave that for you to decide.

What I will say is that Novell makes a very reliable platform for hosting your e-commerce services. But, before you morph your NetWare file server into an Internet storefront, be prepared to blow the budget—and take a look at my list of tips you should consider when using NetWare as an e-commerce server.

  1. Do not use your file server as a Web server. That is, host your Web applications on a separate server. Your e-commerce server will typically take much more abuse than any other server you have in your server farm. Your Web apps will certainly appreciate the extra headroom.
  2. Use a dual- or multi-processor server and enable NetWare Symmetric MultiProcessing (SMP)—again, for the sake of headroom.
  3. Make sure the server hardware and software are Novell certified. There’s possibly nothing worse than having your server go down because of incompatibilities. Fixing these kinds of problems can take quite a lot of time, and in e-commerce, time means money. Before you buy a server, you may want to consult a certified Novell reseller.
  4. Ensure that your routers have the latest firmware in place. Check the Web site of your router manufacturer for updates on a consistent basis. Especially look for any updates that pertain to network security.
  5. Configure your NetWare server for IP-only. Running both IP and IPX protocols could slow your site’s response by causing unnecessary network traffic and reducing bandwidth. If you’re running NetWare 4.11 or Intranetware, consider upgrading to NetWare 5. It’s much easier to configure NetWare 5 for IP-only than any other previous NetWare version. NetWare 5 also includes an integrated Netscape Web server along with Java development tools, and its improved kernel manages memory far better than previous versions.
  6. Keep your server software up-to-date. Consider subscribing to Novell’s Support Connection CD or the Novell Software Connection Library. If you’re using any third-party software, check those manufacturers’ Web sites as well.
  7. Find a reliable ISP who will provide Service Level Agreements (SLA) for network uptime, latency, or for packet delivery, depending on what’s important in your particular situation.
  8. Use Novell’s BorderManager Enterprise Edition. BorderManager is a set of networking tools you can use to connect your network safely to the Internet. With BorderManager Firewall Services, you can establish a firewall to protect the data on your server. And with the proxy caching and reverse caching features of BorderManager, you can provide faster access to your Web server from the Internet.
  9. Monitor and adjust your server to meet the demands of your Web traffic. Invest in Novell’s ManageWise network management software. With ManageWise, you can administer and control your server, including network traffic analysis, virus protection, and network health reporting. With the Internet business, “24/7/365” is the phrase every administrator needs to remember. ManageWise will help your server achieve and continue this level of uptime.
  10. Tune your server for the increased IP traffic, and if you’re using BorderManager, tune its proxy and reverse proxy cache. Read “TID 10018661, NetWare TCPIP Performance Troubleshooting and Tuning,” and “TID 10018669, BorderManager Cache Performance and Tuning.” You can find both at
  11. Since your Internet store will most likely be open 24 hours a day, you’ll need a backup solution that’s capable of backing up and restoring files while they are in use. Make sure you schedule the backup for a time when your server’s use is minimal. I have heard from some NT administrators about problems with Veritas Backup Exec for NT (formerly Seagate Backup Exec) in regard to accessing open files. According to Veritas, this issue does not exist with Backup Exec for NetWare 8.5. However, do some research before settling on any backup software package.
  12. During the Web store planning stages, anticipate that your NetWare server will see a lot of e-commerce traffic and design it with that in mind. Pay special attention to security, performance, scalability, and manageability.

Remember the famous movie line, “If you build it, they will come”? This is very true when dealing with e-commerce. Keep in mind that you, as the administrator, are the most important employee of this Web store. It’s up to you to make sure the doors open and remain open. With the right hardware and software, your NetWare server can be the envy of the e-commerce neighborhood.
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