• United States

NetWare Small Business Suite for free

Apr 17, 20033 mins
Enterprise Applications

* Novell gives away Small Business Suite

First it gave away eDirectory for free, now it’s NetWare and GroupWise. Has there been an open-source revolution in Provo? Is the “new economy” still on the upswing in Cambridge? How does Novell expect to make any money? Could it be like the old Vaudeville punch line, “I lose a nickel on every sale, but I make it up on the volume.”? Why do I ask? Well, in case you missed it, Novell made a dramatic announcement last week – it is going to start giving away NetWare Small Business Suite.

There are a couple of limiting factors to consider and disclaimers to take into account before you plan to re-do the world with free NetWare. First, the offer applies to the SBS Starter Pack, which is very limited – only five users. Second, you do have to contract with a Novell partner to get it. The partner will charge normal rates for installation and can also offer you a maintenance agreement to act as a sort of out-sourced IT department, but the buyer can decide to do their own maintenance.

The starter pack is, though, the full-blown SBS product and includes GroupWise, ZENworks for Desktops and BorderManager. It also allows you to install two physical servers under the single license. You can also add additional users (up to the 50-user limit for the Small Business product) through standard license packs. List price for the additional licenses is $70 for a single user, $300 for a 5-user pack and $1,250 for a 25-user package.

What you save is the $1,250 (list price) for the Server+5-user base package ($1,036 at If you can find a Novell partner to do the installation for under $1,000 (and that shouldn’t be all that difficult), then you will come out ahead on the new pricing.

This should be a real boon to the smaller Novell partners who can now get a foot in the door at the thousands and thousands of small businesses that could benefit from computer networking. Doctors’ offices, insurance agents, independent bookstores, restaurants, small retailers and more, could benefit from NetWare and the SBS, and almost all would need outside help in getting their network up and running.

The first networks I installed were for a video rental chain which used a 5-user NetWare network at each store as a point-of-sale system to track rentals through a Btrieve database. Each of those installations (and eventually there were more than 30 of them) cost between $800 and $1,200 just for the network operating system. I would have been ecstatic to get not only NetWare, but also GroupWise, ZENworks and BorderManager for nothing. Zippo. Nada. Since we were also Novell Authorized Resellers (we’d franchised one store), I’d only have to pay myself for the installation. That’s a really sweet deal.

Novell’s hope, of course, is that satisfied users will add licenses as their needs grow, and will take advantage of other Novell offerings as their needs change.

Small businesses win, Novell partners win and – in the long run – Novell wins. I don’t see a downside.