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NetWare gets a new name – again

Apr 06, 20043 mins
Enterprise Applications

* Remember IntraNetware?

As you probably know by now, and as reported in Network World last week, the current version of the network operating system, 6.5, will be the last to go to market as “NetWare.” Beginning later this year, with the rushed entry into the marketplace of what we had been calling NetWare 7, the product will go forward as Open Enterprise Server.

You may remember what happened the last time the company changed the name of its flagship product, from NetWare to IntraNetware. That marketing disaster was quickly revoked, not long after Chris Stone joined the company the first time back in 1997. There was only one minor release (4.11) of the amorphous attempt to capitalize on the intranet fad (while “intranet” as a term is still with us, its faddish nature has been subsumed into “portals” and other marketing efforts). Version 5 restored the NetWare name and, not surprisingly, enjoyed much better sales than the 4.11 version did.

Is OES another attempt to cash in on buzzwords and fads? Certainly “open” as in open source, is a word on everyone’s lips (everyone in the marketing department, that is).

For a year, though (since BrainShare 2003) we’ve been hearing from Novell that “NetWare 7” would ship in two versions, one on a traditional NetWare kernel and one on a Linux kernel. Well, that was the story since last June. At Brainshare 2003, what was actually talked about was NetWare 7 being a collection of services for Linux as well as a traditional “NetWare on NetWare” system. So the story, as well as the implementation, has changed even as the ship date has been brought forward. Looks, again, like marketing driven engineering. Perhaps Novell should look to the Microsoft model (you remember Microsoft, don’t you Jack & Chris? That company up in Redmond that took all of your networking business away through good marketing?) and realize that releasing sooner only works if the product is fully baked. Half-baked products drive companies into receivership.

IntraNetware was a half-baked system. It shipped side-by-side with NetWare 4.11. The IntraNetware version had some Web-based add-ons, but otherwise it was all the same. Very shortly after it shipped, the two (IntraNetware and NetWare 4.11) became identical and, as I said, two years later NetWare 5 came along and the IntraNetware name was finished. Novell didn’t go under because of IntraNetware but the name fiasco did lead to loss of market share and almost destroyed the company. “Open Enterprise Server” is a very generic name, similar to lots of others in the marketplace. The Waltham-based company could still be in big trouble if users are confused or muddled by what they’re being offered.