Cisco Inks NDS Deal with Novell

Novell Inc. lined up a third networking giant to integrate Novell Directory Services (NDS) into its hardware, Cisco Systems Inc. Cisco agreed last month at Comdex to integrate NDS with its CiscoAssure Policy Networking products. This follows on the heels of Cisco’s August agreement to license Microsoft Corp.’s imminent Active Directory Services.

LAS VEGAS -- Novell Inc. lined up a third networking giant to integrate Novell Directory Services (NDS) into its hardware, Cisco Systems Inc. Cisco agreed last month at Comdex to integrate NDS with its CiscoAssure Policy Networking products. This follows on the heels of Cisco’s August agreement to license Microsoft Corp.’s imminent Active Directory Services.

The newest agreement is part of Cisco’s strategy to ensure that its products function in heterogeneous environments. "If you take a pragmatic view of how networks are managed today, people are using a variety of products that manage a specific aspect of the network, rather than a single product that manages the whole thing," says Jim Hielscher, director of marketing, CiscoAssure, Cisco. "We just want to make sure that our products are usable in a multidirectory environment."

"The key for us is that both Microsoft and Cisco offer interoperability with LDAP, and especially interoperability with NDS," says Tanya van Dam, group product manager, Windows 2000 Server, Microsoft. "Cisco advised us of this early on and we are supportive of it. Interoperability is good for the customer."

Two CiscoAssure products, Network Registrar IP Registration Services and User Registration and Tracking, will use LDAP to provide interoperable directory support. Network Registrar currently works with NDS. User Registration and Tracking, which currently works only with Windows NT, will be honed for compatibility with NDS during the first half of 1999.

"Active Directory is still the core technology embedded in our products. The end result of the agreement with Novell and the use of LDAP is to provide freedom of choice to our customers," Hielscher says.

In multidirectory environments, however, CiscoAssure will still rely primarily on Active Directory. "We all look at Active Directory as the de facto standard once it ships, and Cisco wants a presence there," says Mary Petrosky, an independent industry analyst based in San Mateo, Calif.

While Cisco is aligning with both Novell and Microsoft, Novell is lining up partners for the ensuing battle with Active Directory. In fact, Novell recently penned similar integration agreements with Lucent Technologies Inc. (Murray Hill, N.J., www.lucent.com) and Nortel Networks Inc., (Richardson, Texas, www.nortel.com), and is working with these vendors and the Desktop Management Task Force to advance policy-based networking industry standards.

"Novell was losing the directory marketing war until recently, and now the company is lining up partners and gaining marketing momentum," says Eddie Hold, enterprise infrastructure research analyst at Current Analysis (Sterling, Va.), a market analysis firm. "After the Lucent and Nortel agreements, Cisco really needed to follow suit and work with NDS. It’s a matter of perception. If Cisco doesn’t integrate NDS, it will look like its turning its back on Novell."

Also See: Novell, Lucent Partner for Directory-Enabled Networking