Small Business Networking For Free

By Patricia Fusco | Posted April 11, 2003
Novell is providing small businesses networking software for free. Novell's Small Business Suite 6 comes complete with powerful Web access, collaboration, security and management capabilities.

What's the catch? None really.

Since most small businesses turn to local solution providers rather than national vendors for technology advice and troubleshooting, Novell's free offer will be delivered by its network of solution provider partners. Eligible small businesses can pickup the Novell starter pack through participating solutions providers.

There are, however, some limits as to which solution providers are eligible to deliver Novell's Small Business Suite 6 for free. To be eligible for the program, solution providers must have a current Certified Novell Salesperson on staff. Some regions will also require partner participation in Novell's PartnerNet program.

Terry Green, VTI Computers president and a Novell partner, said the Novell Small Business Suite is its most popular small business package and this initiative would only make it more so.

"The Novell Small Business Starter Pack program is great because it offers the industry's most solid and secure operating system without an investment up front," Green said. "Novell's timing is excellent. Even with the industry in the doldrums, I can still help my customers upgrade their environment."

Small businesses benefit from getting a price break on building a state-of-the-art network for just the cost of hardware and installation. Novell partners gain through being able to offer a comprehensive networking solution to their small business customers at no cost for the software.

But what does Novell get out of the deal?

According to Bruce Lowry, Novell director of public relations, the software maker will gain mindshare, which will eventually translate into market share.

"Most small businesses think of Novell as a big business player. They don't consider Novell software to be an option for their small businesses," Lowry said. "We want to change the way they think. After all, these small businesses often become big businesses. We want to be there at the beginning and be a part of their growth."

Jack Messman, Novell chairman and chief executive officer, echoed these sentiments.

"Novell has long been a backbone of corporate networks, but small businesses have tended to think they can't afford the power of a Novell network," Messman said. "With today's announcement, affordability is no longer an issue."

Novell believes that small businesses are looking for a reliable networking foundation — a foundation that offers a more secure option to Microsoft's Small Business Server.

But the costs of buying, installing, and maintaining a network that allows for easy Web integration is usually cost-prohibitive for very small businesses. With Novell's announcement, the company plans to change all this. The Novell Small Business Suite 6 is literally a network in a box, providing a full range of network services. Small Business Suite 6 includes:

  • NetWare: Comprised of iFolder, a way to instantly access data from any location; iPrint Internet printing capabilities, native file access for Windows, Macintosh and UNIX, NetWare Remote Manager and NetWare WebAccess.

  • GroupWise: E-mail, calendar, scheduling, and document management, as well as wireless device support.

  • ZENWorks: This is the full version, ZENWorks for Desktops 3.2, which includes application distribution, management and recovery systems. Workstation takes care of imaging and inventory management.

  • BorderManager: Firewall, proxy and cache systems, remote access connectivity, and VPN services.

The free Novell Small Business Suite 6 covers two server licenses and support for up to five users. In the U.S., the deal amounts to a $1,295 discount. Small businesses interested in taking a look at Novell's Small Business Suite 6 offer should contact their local Novell technology partner.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

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