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Novell Dives Into Web Services

With Novell's planned acquisition of SilverStream Software, the company plunged headfirst into the Web services pool. If the acquisition works, Novell's channel partners will gain an inroad into Web services and the vendor's consulting arm will pick up additional, lucrative services engagements. One big question remains: Is there any water in the pool?

This isn't entirely new territory for Novell, mind you. Before Web services was a glimmer in Microsoft's eye, Novell ported a Java virtual machine to NetWare. Not only did Novell tout its Java virtual machine as the fastest on the market, but, for better or worse, the company spent the last few years rewriting its NetWare management infrastructure using Java. Novell believes in Java.

These two companies appear to be a good match. Each company brings strengths to the union without much overlap. SilverStream is a real player in rapid application development and application hosting in addition to Web services. Novell is a leader in directory, authentication and identity management -- key components in any Web services implementation.

Trouble is, enterprises may not accept Novell as a serious player in application development, application serving and Web services. The technology decision-makers who champion Novell -- the file, print and directory folks -- aren't the ones who make decisions about Web services implementations. The key Web services decision-makers don't have a history with Novell but probably do have one with Sun or Microsoft, the early leaders in Web services.

Novell has a compelling story to tell, especially when you consider just how important authentication and identity will be as Web services moves forward. But in this business, a good story and a buck twenty-five will get you nothing more than a cup of coffee.