Two agencies see future in NetWare 5

Countering a federal drift toward Microsoft Windows NT Server on departmental networks,
the Customs Service and the Postal Service have made major commitments to the Novell
NetWare network operating system.


Customs has installed NT Workstation 4.0 on its desktop PCs. But the service last year
decided to postpone a planned network migration to NT Server 4.0 in favor of a NetWare 5
upgrade, said Luke McCormack, acting director of Custom’s Infrastructure Services
Division.


The Postal Service maintains 10,000 servers running NT plus 17,000 workstations acting
as NT log-in servers in small offices. The service has designated NT 4.0 as the
application server for its Oracle Corp. databases.


Although an NT point-of-sale rollout also is under way, officials said they have no
plans to ditch NetWare 4.11, which runs on 1,300 servers with 80,000 administrative users
in large offices.


“We fully expect to move to NetWare 5” by July, said T. Wayne Grimes, manager
of distributed systems certification and deployment for USPS in Raleigh, N.C. The NetWare
5 tests beginning in Raleigh will be followed by tests at two sites in the field and then
a deployment to 110 field sites, he said.


“We’re one of Novell’s largest customers and have a significant impact
on its development,” particularly in getting NetWare versions to run well with NT,
said Grimes, who manages client-server integration at the Postal Service. One of
USPS’ Novell Directory Services trees has grown as large as 200,000 objects, he said.


The service maintains about 80,000 LAN-attached computers and also has about 40,000
standalone users, Grimes said. A Postal Service executive committee must approve any major
changes to the computing infrastructure because of a year 2000 freeze in effect until
March 31, 2000. The agency also is evaluating candidates for a new messaging system.
Currently, USPS uses Lotus cc:Mail Version 6.3.


Customs officials decided to go with NetWare because they like its file and print
capabilities, McCormack said. Plus, Customs personnel already have NetWare skills, and NT
lacks maturity at an enterprise level, he said. Customs maintains about 15,000 PCs and 400
servers.


The service signed a one-year license with one option year for the Novell software
through the General Services Administration Information Technology Schedule contract held
by GE Capital IT Services of Gaithersburg, Md.


Novell’s Master License Agreement program lets Customs pay a smaller per-license
fee for networked file servers, printers and workstations than it would pay per server, a
Novell account manager said.


“At the end of two or three years, we’ll reassess where NT is,”
McCormack said. “Our intention is to implement a full NT solution eventually, even
for file and print services.” The service sought advice from GartnerGroup Inc. of
Stamford, Conn., about the NT migration costs, he said.


Customs managers are in the midst of deploying NetWare 5 and preparing the
agency’s data center to launch a TCP/IP network, said Rodney Hess, a computer
specialist.


The managers liked the fact that Novell took away NetWare 5’s IPX protocol
dependency to make WAN use easier, Hess said. They also liked the OS’ user
authentication and centralized NDS administration features.


Grimes said USPS officials also liked the central NDS administration and preferred
NetWare’s file and print services.      


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