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Novell To Launch Linux Tools At LinuxWorld

A Big Week Ahead

  • January 20, 2004
  • By Jacqueline Emigh

Novell's myriad announcements at LinuxWorld this week are set to include exteNd 5, the first version of the development tool suite to operate on Linux. Novell will also tout the new edition as the first to require absolutely no Java coding.

The point-and-click graphical tools are designed largely--but not exclusively--for creating applications that will sit on top of Novell nSure Identity Manager, a combined identity management and portal suite unveiled last week.

Also at LinuxWorld, Novell is expected to make announcements around new partnerships, Linux collaboration, and a new affiliation with an industry association.

Why did Novell choose the show as the venue for the tools launch? Aside from the fact that the tools operate on Red Hat and SUSE Linux, this week "just happened to coincide with our ship date," Novell officials maintained, during a pre-briefing on a New York City press tour.

"We have an audience of people who are interested in development tools, and Linux is an important piece of that," said Frank Auger, Novell's VP of product management and marketing for exteNd and nSure. Other supported OS include Microsoft Windows and Sun Solaris. For ease of use, Novell's new tools compare favorably with Microsoft's Visual Basic, according to Auger.

Novell's Java-enabled nSure Identity Manager, announced last week, represents a rebranding of DirXML, an earlier product from Novell that was marketed mainly as a single sign-on and provisioning environment.

"We'd really been doing 'identity management' all along, anyway," contended Bob Bentley, Novell's product line manager for Identity Manager. Recently, though, Novell has found that "people interested in identity management products also wanted to be able to build a portal," according to Bentley. "Our intention is to streamline things - to provide the link between the two."

The exteNd 5 tool set to be introduced at LinuxWorld is the second release of exteNd since Novell's acquisition of SilverStream. "You don't need to be a rocket scientist to use these tools. You can just be an 'average smart person' -- a business analyst or a reseller, for instance," Auger quipped.

The product's GUI-based development environment encompasses Visual Form Designer and Page Flow Modeler. Capabilities of Form Designer include automatic generation of Web Service user interfaces; automatic binding of Web Services data to a form; and drag-and-drop control creation.

Page Flow Modeler is for building portlets by visually combining pages into process flows. By pointing and clicking, you can connect forms, Web Services, Java objects, and exception handlers, according to Auger

The tool suite is integrated with Novell products such as Identity Manager, iChain, and nSure Audit, but it also supports industry standards that include XML, LDAP, W3C XForms, WS-I, and the Portlet 1.0 Specification.

Novell is positioning Identity Manager as more comprehensive than competing "niche" products. "Customers are using (Identity Manager) in all different ways and from many different angles--single sign-on, provisioning, personalization, workflow, white pages, and password synchronization, for instance," according to Bentley.

New features in Identity Manager include Policy Manager, for role-based system administration; new tracking, monitoring and reporting tools; self-service password management; and password synchronization.

The self-service password management feature uses Policy Manager for centralized definition of password policies. End users who forget their passwords can use these policies to create new passwords, without burdening the help desk.

These passwords can then be automatically synchronized to applications and OS throughout the network. If users enter passwords which don't match the password policies set by the administrator, those passwords are automatically rejected, Bentley said.

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