Can the comeback kid perform another trick?

Novell's ability to innovate into new and profitable technology areas is about to be tested again. The comeback kid has done it before; who says it can't do it again.

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By  Rob Corder Published  September 19, 2000

In the late 1990’s Novell was dubbed the comeback kid by the world’s media.

It bounced back when its dominance of the LAN operating system was eroded by Microsoft; it survived a disastrous foray into desktop applications when it bought WordPerfect; and it found a new strength in network platform products like directory services, Internet caching solutions and application management services.

But Novell’s share price has been battered again in recent months as speculation has increased over whether Novell can innovate its way into new profitable areas that are not locked-down by companies like Microsoft, Sun, IBM and Cisco.

Analysts have also suggested that Novell may need to seek the security that its acquisition by a larger company would afford.

Novell’s response has been to concentrate its efforts into network infrastructure and network management solutions. Building on its Network Directory Service (NDS) solution, Novell is adding point products like NMAS, a new security/authentication solution that uses tokens, smart cards, X.509 digital certificates, fingerprint and iris scan devices. It is the first, and only, solution on the market providing graded security through a specific login sequence.

Novell’s marketing department has created another new slogan to describe Novell’s vision. This time, it’s the “One Net” strategy that the company will take to market.

That strategy concentrates on the Internet binding together every machine in the World; a complex future that will deliver plenty of opportunities for a vendor that can secure market share in Internet or network management solutions.

Whether that vendor is Novell remains to be seen. Certainly the company has a track record of recognising new opportunities early and driving a talented development team towards delivering products to market fast.

If it succeeds again, the world’s press will have to come up with a new moniker for a company that achieves a dramatic comeback twice.

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