back to article Novell misses Q3 revenue and profit targets

The uncertainty over the future of Novell continued to weigh on the company as it reported disappointing financial results for the third quarter of fiscal 2010 ended July 31. Novell, the maker of the venerable NetWare operating system and GroupWise collaboration software, has bought its way into many adjacent markets, including …

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Shorter title: Netware sucks

I hate to be the one calling a stinker a stinker, but that's the fact. Netware/Groupwise/Zenworks is a horrible "software stack". End users hate it because the software makes even the snappiest workstation feel 5 years old, and admins hate it because it's convoluted to manage and is archaic compared to other...free...solutions out there today.

In fact, it seems the only folks that like it are the managers. You know, the folks that cut their teeth on these products 15 years ago...when they were actually decent in comparison. Unfortunately, the industry has passed these folks, and these products by. But because they are now the decision makers, we get stuck with the crap.

Unless Novell makes some radical changes to their product line ( and frankly, I'm not sure how they could change enough to compete with Active directory ), they're looking at a long, slow ride in to death. Unfortunately, with the way these things work, they'll drag a lot of us with them.

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FAIL

Taxi for Noah!

Where have you been recently? On a desert island somewhere?

NetWare went end of life earlier this year. You can't even buy it!

Most of Novell's products run on both SUSE Linux *and* Windows and have been doing so for years.

But then, I suppose this is the root of the problem: Novell's stealth marketing leaves the uninformed uninformed. I'm still convinced that if Novell could market properly (because, god forbid that anyone actually do any research of their own in to a product) they'd be making a few more quid.

I'll do my bit to help, bless 'em: Novell != NetWare.

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WTF?

eh?

@ Sean

As an admin I did not like Netware, but GroupWise scaled much better and more reliable than exchange, and Zenworks is an excellent set of tools for, especially for desktop applicatgion deployment...much better than SCCM! Imporperly implementented Zenworks can be a hog, you just got to know what your doing!

So, there's at least 1 Net Admin that like Novell stuff ;)

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Pirate

noob

well, I can tell you're new to the IT field, so let me give you a little guidance. If you want a stable, reliable file server, you'll be hard pressed to find one better suited to that task than the old Netware (NOT the new OES2 crap). If you want good login scripting abilities, the login scripting built into the Netware client has always been superior to the half-assed junk in Windows. If you want a high-quality directory infrastructure, sorry, but eDirectory still beats the pants off of your beloved AD.

Now there are some areas where your gross overgeneralization may hold true. Novell made a horribly convoluted mess when they added Apache and Tomcat applets to Netware. That is a nightmare that only a deranged, server-shooting admin would ever try to edit by hand. Novell's DirXML services to sync AD and eDir are likewise incredibly over-engineered (what exactly was wrong with the much simpler NDS4NT???) As well, Novell's gradual slide from compiled EXE admin tools (NWAdmin) to local Java (ConslowOne) to Java on a webserver (iManager, etc) was a downhill slope.

And finally, there's Groupwise. Users generally hate it because it's not Outlook. Admins generally love it because it's not Exchange.

As a long-time Netware/Groupwise admin (not a manager, thankfully), I find Novell's old stacks to be very, very useful and reliable for certain tasks. But as you said, the industry has moved on. Everything is now built for integration with AD, very few things have any integration with eDirectory, and even those that do generally used the more generic LDAP or RADIUS as opposed to the eDirectory API.

So listen, noob, just because you're a hot-blooded young-un who thinks he knows everything, well, you don't. Some of us were doing this back when you were still playing video games and eating ice cream, so we know how the industry got to where it is today. It didn't appear by magic, it slowly evolved. And we helped drive it. Now you come along and say all of the Old Ways (that you don't understand) are shit and only the New Ways (that you understand) are worth their salt. Guess what, noob? In 20 years some other young punk is going to come along and pour piss all over the stuff you're doing today and talk about how old and decrepit it is. And it's gonna make your blood boil. So you'll post him a little note that starts with the sentence "well, I can tell you're new to the IT field, so let me give you a little guidance.". It's that whole "Circle Of Life" thing, just without the Elton John song...

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And that makes it better?

Honestly? Netware/Novell, it amounts to the same bloated crap. Yes, we are using SLES, but god help us, that's based on Suse. SUSE.

And it's not like the difference between netware/novell matters to either of the points in my initial post; end users hate the product, administrators ( those that actually keep relevant ) hate the product. Doesn't matter if the back end is solid gold ( which it ain't. Again, suse. Might as well have used Lindows ), if the interface with your two most important demographics sucks then you are still going to die horribly.

And whoopee, it runs like crap on TWO operating systems. That makes it twice as fail.

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Pirate

not entirely the same bloated crap

Netware was relativelty svelte. OES2 on SLES, not so much. I dislike SLES and prefer RedHat/CentOS on my Linux boxes, but that's mostly down to I know where the important config files are on a RH system. But when we finally pull the plug on our Netware/Groupwise infrastructure in a few more years, we'll probably move to Windows and Exchange. Not because it's better, but because OES2 is just not worth the aggravation. Had Novell made OES2 (and especially the console tools) more "Netware-ish", I might have stuck with Novell. But it seems as if the Linux guys took over Novell and are hell-bent on making us old Netware hacks as miserable as possible, and forcing us to adapt to their Linux way of doing things or die. So a lot of us are jumping ship to the Evil Empire. What was "bleeding edge" 15-20 years ago is now just bleeding. But we'll remember the old Netware, a NOS that did its job and stayed out of the way.

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FAIL

Multi-fail

You think Netware is bloated? You really don't know what you're talking about. You do know that Netware is an OS right (and one that's gone end of life)? Novell is a company.

Anyway, Netware was great for it's core functions - file and directory services - far, far superior to Active Directory. It just couldn't compete on integration. And then when it started to get squeezed by MS the big panic started. Bad decision after bad decision killed Netware, but the core eDirectory / file server architecture was brilliant.

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FAIL

Free Enterprise System: Sell Crap, be Punished

The SuSE quality problems are finally hitting the bottom line. Had Mr Hovsepian actually installed his products himself he would have realized that the last few SuSE releases weren't up to the quality standards of the Linux community.

Instead he wasted time meeting the Redmond "800 pound Gorilla".

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Stop

AD better than eDirectory?

@Sean ...

"and frankly, I'm not sure how they could change enough to compete with Active directory"

You don't think that AD is a better directory over eDirectory? Do you? ;)

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Clarifications

@ByeLaw101...

For managing WINDOWS users on WINDOWS workstations? Ya, I happen to think MS might have an "IN" here. Nothing competes with AD in this space, no matter how much the big red N might.

@Pirate Dave

I'm probably older than you are. However, unlike the dinos that were once my peers, I keep my skill set current. I remain objective and consequently i am capable of making objective decisions.

Novell WAS good 15 years ago. They were the only name in the game. That changed with AD around 2000, and it's only gotten worse for Novell since then. While I generally support the whole "if it ain't broke" mentality, you do have to take in to account finding capable admins. While I could hire otherwise capable admins and train them in Novell crap, why would i waste that time? It's easier and cheaper to find MS admins that are capable of the necessary tasks.

I have admin'd both groupwise and exchange. On their own, each is their own nightmare of crap. However, everything is built for Exchange. Ever have the pleasure of administrating a BES/Groupwise "solution"? No sane number cruncher would make that decision, yet we find it all the time because old admins in management positions are constantly making nostalgic decisions instead of objective ones.

No. Novell and their "software stack" are more a liability than a viable solution.

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Pirate

Well, yes, actually

I have a BES tied to our Groupwise system. Works a charm, since we use Groupwise. Wouldn't do much good to have the Notes or Exchange version, now would it?

As to staying current, yes, except for Microsoft, I tend to stay current. I had an MCSE for Win2k many years ago but let it lapse. Just got tired of wasting time and money learning stuff that in a few years wouldn't be worth a plug nickel (according to Microsoft). So I play a lot in the Linux/FOSS space, since, from a learning perspective, that's far more stable and memorable than the ever-changing coat of many colors that Microsoft puts out every few years. I'm none too keen on the "upgrade because there's a new version and we have to be cool" mentality - my job is to make things work. Netware and Groupwise still WORK. The users still get their network drives every day because Netware is a NOS built like a refrigerator, humming quietly in the corner, doing its thing.

Now I might give you points for Exchange/Outlook, from a user perspective anyway, but from an Admin perspective, GW is great. The POAs are wonderful at knowing when things go wrong in the message store files and fixing the problems. It's rare that I have to manually "fix" anything in Groupwise - maybe half a dozen times a year. It just works.

Oh, and the other clencher for the deal - for $6.50 per head per year, I can run all of the Netware and Groupwise servers I want. To my knowledge, there is no similar deal from MS at that price point.

You are right about integration. Sadly nobody is integrating things with NW/GW anymore. And there are more and more things coming out that require AD: VMware View is first to mind. But OTOH, it keeps the headaches low since if things can't integrate, they can't break... And it helps by keeping us creative in how we do things, since we have to come up with our own procedures and such to mimic integration. So when our procedures break, we know where they broke and how to fix them, we aren't sitting on the phone waiting for some tech rep with a heavy accent to read his answer off the screen.

We do run some MS stuff. Our main Admin/Accounting system is on MS SQL. I used to like the simplicity of the SQL2000 GUI admin tools, but the GUI tools for 2005 are an abomination, and haven't seen 2008 yet. Then there's IIS, for our users who simply cannot give up their Frontpage/Sharepoint Designer lifestyles. But that's about it. Other than those two instances, we don't really have any need for other Microsoft stacks.

So, no, the Novell software stack is not a liability any more than the Microsoft or Red Hat stacks are a liability. They are getting long in the tooth, and their potential for use is decreasing, but for those areas where they are still useful, they are great for the job. Calling them useless is just foolishness.

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Anonymous Coward

Novell bussines plan

Take Microosft patented technology and put it in Linux. Put Mono in GNOME and make it Microsoft dependent

Now get Microsoft to sue Linux, and split the winnings. But Novell won't be around long enough to see that happen. Microsoft won't either.

Novell would be better to give that up and fire Miguel De Icaza (he can go to Microsoft at last) and make honest business plan.

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A word about stability

Stability without versatility means little. SLES may be stable ( it's linux after all. Not even Novell/Suse seem to be able to screw that up. Not that I'm sure they didn't try ), but if I have to have the novell client to access it, what's the point?

Sure, I could use samba...so why don't we use that to begin with? What's the point of adding that extra layer? What feature does it provide? Beyond vendor lock in, of course, which is really only a feature of novell's and not the business.

The best file servers are linux + samba. I prefer RHEL/Centos ( for a variety of reasons. SLES can't stand up to it, frankly ), but any linux distro would work.

Scripting capabililties...you're kidding right? With windows, you can use VBScript, JScript, even DOS batch scripting ( which is full featured ). Ultimately however, as long as the scripting language can do what you need it to do ( which all of windows scripts can ), everything else is just syntax.

So why does eDirectory beat the pants off of AD for user/workstation management? Or hell, let's just say "Authentication". I know edirectory has some neat partitioning features that AD doesn't have yet, but that's really only useful in some edge cases. And regardless, there are work arounds even then. So let's here your reasons. Objective please, otherwise we might as well end this argument here.

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Heart

Calm down calm down..

Hi Sean!

I just wish to retort to some of your assumptions if I may.

With SLES and OES you do not need the Novell Client to use it. In fact, for several years now Novell have supported access to their servers (yep, even Netware) via CIFS, AFS and other clients so there would be no need to deploy NCP Clients.

The best file + Print servers in my opinion was a Netware box, not much good at anything else but great at file + print ;). Calling a Linux + Samba the best file servers is a little surprising but hey, I won’t get into a religious argument with you on that one.

Novell Client login scripting is not as powerful as Windows, totally agree. You can break out of a Novell Script and use what you like but it’s difficult to get the scripts answers back in to the Novell script to argument it’s responses.

I’d have to say that eDirectory does beat the pants of AD at the moment. It scales a lot beter (up to billions of objects) and is regarded in the industry as the best performing and most extensible directory out there. The strong partitioning facilities are not “edge”, and are used in every deployment that I’d done (and as a IDM Consultant I can tell you that’s more than a few when deploying Novell IDM!). It doesn’t have silly limitations such as the last login time not being reliable and up to 14 days old. There are many reasons why I think eDirectory is superior to AD… but I have to admit AD is getting better.

Hi Pirate Dave,

You’ve got it totally wrong about DirXML and NDS4NT… and you call the other guy a noob! NDS4NT was basically what we know now as eDirectory but running on an NT box. It was required there to get the rather clunky and basically crap Password Sync v1.0 to run between NDS and a windows domain. DirXML, or as it’s repackaged now as IDM is much more than just an AD-> eDirectory user and password synchronising product, but rather an Identity Management object synchronising engine which is highly regarded in the industry.

Most admins did morn the loss of NWAdmin all those years ago, but coming man… get over it, nobody cares anymore … and try running iManager locally if you’re really pissed about it, much better.

eDirectory by the way has an LDAP interface and supports RADIUS authentication.

OES2 crap? Hmmm… well…. The latest version is fine, but I remember the first version really was crap. Again though, Netware is dead, move on and get your Novell services onto Linux or move to another vendor…. Like Microsoft ;)

Peace and love x

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Pirate

@ByeLaw01

Pshaw!

We used to run NDS4NT and the password sync when we had Netware 4/5 servers and NT 4. You're right: it wasn't great, but it did work. Your sentence only reaffirms my convictions about DirXML:

"DirXML, or as it’s repackaged now as IDM is much more than just an AD-> eDirectory user and password synchronising product, but rather an Identity Management object synchronising engine which is highly regarded in the industry."

See, even when you just TALK about it, you're over-engineering it. All I would be interested in is something simple and lightweight to keep the AD and eDir passwords in sync. That's all we need. The rest is excessive fluff in my case. Good for you IDM consultants, perhaps, as the complication keeps the money flowing, but no so good for us lone-wolf network admins who can only cram so many things into our heads before we explode.

Yes, I know eDirectory does LDAP and RADIUS, although I found there is a bit of aggravation in getting a RADIUS server to work with it. SteelBelted SAID their server would work, if I'd only trust them and pay them $5,000 first. After two days of compiling, I finally gave up on getting the eDirectory patches to work with FreeRADIUS on a CentOS box - there were just too many missing dependencies and it became a rabbit hole that went deeper and deeper. I did find that the FreeRADIUS in SLES9 worked out of the box, so used it, despite my general disdain of SLES. The two RADIUS servers are the only SLES boxes I have. Thankfully

I tested OES2 earlier this year, and it wasn't to my liking. Too much like Linux, not enough like Netware, and other than the eDir integration, I didn't really see a huge benefit to moving to it. So we'll stick with Netware/Groupwise for a few more years, then jump over to Windows/Exchange. Maybe we'll hire a new Network Admin to go along with it. The boss has been hot to move to Exchange for the past 3 or 4 years, so it'll finally shut her up.

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