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Novell readies Small Business Suite 6.5

Oct 21, 20033 mins
Enterprise Applications

* Novell's latest server for small businesses scheduled for early next year

Novell never ceases to amaze me, and sometimes that’s a good thing. Who would have thought that Novell could take something that’s essentially free and make it into an even better buy? But that’s what it has done with the wildly successful Novell Small Business Suite.

SBS Versions 4 and 5 were very good buys. They contained the full version of NetWare server, but with a maximum of 50 concurrent logons. In addition, there were other limited-user versions of both Novell (e.g., GroupWise) and third party (e.g., Tobit Faxware) applications.

SBS 6 was an even better “buy,” because it was, essentially, free. That is, the SBS “Starter Pack” (server +5 users) was yours at no additional charge when you purchased it pre-installed on hardware from a qualifying NetWare SBS dealer. You could eventually expand to the full 50 users, but you would need to first buy an “expansion pack” which amounted to list price for the pieces you had already received. Still, it was a good deal and got the product into organizations that wouldn’t have considered buying the NOS and associated software.

Now Novell has announced SBS 6.5, which will ship early next year. While not firmly committing to continuing the “starter pack” promotion, it appears that the only decision left to be made is how many licenses the promotion will support – the current five or an increase to 10. What is known, though, is that you will be able to expand the SBS network to up to 100 users – twice the current limit.

SBS 6.5, in addition to all of NetWare 6.5’s functionality (see links below), includes Novell GroupWise 6.5, Novell ZENworks for Desktops 4, and Novell BorderManager 3.8.

There’ll be a downloadable public beta release of SBS 6.5 sometime in December (a nice Christmas present for your lab or home network) with an official release soon after the first of the year.

Last spring I talked about the SBS 6.0 “starter pack” free offer and commented that small businesses win, Novell partners win and – in the long run – Novell wins. I couldn’t see a downside then and I can’t see one now. In fact, there’s considerably more upside, since NetWare 6.5 – with the many “extra goodies” Novell has added – is a better buy than 6.0 was. Check this one out when it’s available. It might not be right for your organization, but I’m sure you can think of a “small business” that could benefit from a full-blown NetWare network.