Boost your network with fully Java-integrated NetWare 5

Find out how Novell's adoption of Java in its latest network OS can benefit enterprise network developers

If you're in charge of developing and maintaining the network system in your mid-sized to large organization, chances are you're quite familiar with Novell NetWare. Despite its competition with Microsoft's NT Server, NetWare, boasting an installed base of 3.8 million servers and 79 million nodes, remains a staple as server technology in the average corporate and organizational network. Now is an important time to pay attention to Novell: Although its marketing is fairly quiet, Novell has a lot to offer to enterprise network developers, especially those who are Java enthusiasts.

Currently, NetWare 5 is in its third beta release. (Novell expects to ship the production version of NetWare 5 in mid-1998.) The advance of NetWare to a new version number represents an important leap in development to those used to the NetWare 3.xx and 4.xx server environments. As just one aspect of its advancement, NetWare 5 integrates a number of Java-enabling development resources into its server operating system.

Novell ConsoleOne is a Java-based common console framework within Novell's Open Solution Architecture (OSA) for management and administration utilities. Coupled with Novell Directory Services (NDS), ConsoleOne provides developers and network managers with an environment that is scalable to thousands of users as well as secure for individuals, workgroups, and entire organizations. The ConsoleOne graphic user interface (GUI) supports both ConsoleOne snap-ins, which are applications that extend the ConsoleOne shell (just as plug-ins extend the capabilities of a Web browser), and standard Java applets.

Another important implementation of Java is Novell's Java Virtual Machine (JVM). Integrated into NetWare 5, the Novell JVM is remarkably the fastest server-side Java environment, according to VolanoMark benchmark tests conducted by Key Labs -- clocking in at speeds twice as fast as Microsoft's JVM on the Windows NT Server and five times as fast as on a variety of Unix systems.

In enterprise arenas, NetWare traditionally has been the leader in network performance, reliably and efficiently running file-management, printing, and other server-side computing services. Steve Holbrook, product manager of Novell's Java Technology Group, admits, however, that NetWare used to fall short on "gimmicks" that aren't totally necessary but nevertheless are useful, such as convenient and intuitive GUIs. Novell developers realized that the flexible GUI-design capabilities and open-systems nature of Java make it a natural complement to enterprise server products such as NetWare. The NetWare/Java combination, for instance, allows screen rendering of often-used application GUIs to be cached on the server and then efficiently transferred to individual desktops as necessary.

On NetWare, the JVM runs as a NetWare Loadable Module (NLM). The first JVM NLM appeared on NetWare 4.11 at the end of 1996, just three months after the release of NetWare 4.11 itself. Novell upgraded this JDK 1.02-compliant NLM last august to make it JDK 1.1-compliant.

A variety of developers already are taking advantage of the synergistic NetWare/Java approach. For example, Strategic Technology Resources (STR), a company specializing in Java and CORBA solutions that run on top of JVMs, designed a innovative system for brokering automatic teller machine data to banks -- specifically using an object-oriented "wrapping" approach to process data from legacy systems. Until STR developers discovered the Novell JVM, they architected their systems around NetWare; but once they discovered the Novell JVM, they configured NetWare to act as a bridge from the mainframe to the desktop. Ordinarily, a desktop would have to run a flat, static, and generally unattractive emulation of the IBM 3270 terminal, but by using the Novell JVM and JavaBeans, STR was able to design a convenient, intuitive, and efficient front-end interface to this legacy system -- an interface that runs eight times faster than the 3270 emulation.

Novell's JVM also is useful in applications for small businesses. The Office Pack suite from PlusFactor Software provides Java-based message boards, broadcasts, and collaborative workgroup environments that run over a network on the Novell JVM faster and more efficiently than on other JVMs.

Java purists will be pleased that Novell's JVM fully conforms to the Java specification. The design of NetWare 5's underlying kernel structure passed the Java Compatibility Kit test suites and thus conforms to the requirements of the JVM, such as garbage collection and memory management. In addition, Novell includes the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) 1.1.5, including the JVM, in NetWare 5 Beta 3 and as a part of its OSA software development kit.

NetWare provides an excellent platform for Java-enabled middleware and robust databases. Novell is bundling a five-user version of the Java-optimized Oracle8 data server with NetWare 4.11 and higher. In addition, Novell released the Novell SQL Integrator for NetWare, a multi-database management solution that can transparently create inter-database hooks to JDBC-compatible databases.

A 10-year veteran of the Internet, Mariva H. Aviram is an Internet consultant and writer covering the computer industry. Mariva's published works include articles in CNet, NetscapeWorld, and InfoWorld. Recently, Mariva wrote XML For Dummies Quick Reference, which is pending publishing by IDG Books Worldwide. For more information, visit

Learn more about this topic

  • Novell Inc.
  • NetWare 5 FAQ
  • Strategic Technology Resources
  • PlusFactor Software
  • Oracle's Server Technologies HomepageOracle8