The history of Novell NetWare

This is a part of chapter "A brief history of IT Infrastructures" of my forthcoming book "Infrastructure Architecture". Please feel free to comment using my email address stated in the right column of this website.    

In 1983 Novell introduced its file and print server product NetWare. NetWare initially had only one purpose: it provided network access to files and print queues. Using a NetWare client on PCs users could easily share files and use centralized printers. Due to this simple concept, high stability (NetWare typically would have uptimes of more than one year, which was highly unusual at that time), very high performance and because of the fact that Netware ran on standard PC hardware NetWare became very popular. Most small to medium size businesses ran some version of NetWare in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Later NetWare was extended to also run server applications like mail servers, network protocol routers, authentication and authorization directories and databases. These server applications made the product less stable and more complex. Managing the system became more complicated as well.

Because Novell used IPX/SPX as its network protocol instead of TCP/IP, they could not take full advantage of the rise of the Internet around 1995. NetWare version 5 switched from the IPX/SPX network protocol to TCP/IP. IPX/SPX was still supported, but the emphasis shifted to TCP/IP. Novell also added a GUI to NetWare.

The rise of Windows NT in the late-1990s as an application server also capable of sharing files and serving centralized printers marked the beginning of the end of NetWare. Before the arrival of Windows NT Server, Novell claimed 90% of the market for PC based servers. Nowadays NetWare is almost distinct.

This entry was posted on Thursday 09 December 2010

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Sjaak Laan

Recommended links

Ruth Malan
Gaudi site
Esther Barthel's site on virtualization
Eltjo Poort's site on architecture


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