Vars are worried that they will lose Novell business to Microsoft resellers after the networking vendor decided to discontinue sales of the Netware 3.2 operating system from 31 October.
The move comes days before Novell's annual Brainshare conference. Carol Hamblin, Netware product manager at Novell, said the company believes the product, which was introduced in August 1989 and runs more than 850,000 servers, has reached the end of its lifecycle.
Novell said it will continue to provide support to Netware 3.2 customers until January 2002 on a limited basis.
Mohammed Zabir, software production specialist at Novell reseller Specialist Computer Centre, disagreed with the decision. "It will definitely affect the low end of the market," he said. "It will force people to upgrade and they will lose customers to Windows 2000 Advanced Server. It is already happening."
Zabir was less concerned about Microsoft. "Users must be able to interact across different platforms, but people are choosing [Windows] 2000 for business now anyway."
Hamblin said: "Novell is focusing its efforts on Novell Directory Services eDirectory and its strategy to provide customers with ebusiness systems. Phasing out non-directory based Netware 3.2 is a part of this plan."
Through its channel partners, Novell is offering several promotions to entice its users to Netware 5.1, including discount upgrade prices starting from $695 (normal price $1295) for customers with one server and 50 or fewer users.
Bill Wall, director of worldwide channel marketing at Novell, also said the company embarked on a tour of 160 cities in February to arm the channel and train 3500 channel system engineers on Netware 5.1 in preparation for the transition.
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