Novell is eliminating its NEST group as an independent division within the company.

A company spokesman said Tuesday Novell is integrating parts of NEST with other divisions and is seeking partners to continue development of some NEST projects. NEST stands for Novell Embedded Systems Technology.Novell encouraged about half of the 58 employees working in NEST division to find other jobs within Novell. That group will likely continue work on NEST projects or join other departments, said Jonathan Cohen, Novell spokesman.

The rest are being offered "voluntary separation" severance packages, and employees unable to find jobs within the company may be given the same deal.

"It's possible that some people will be involuntarily separated if the remaining employees aren't able to find jobs," Cohen said.

The company issued an electronic memo last week informing employees of its plans for NEST.

"We felt that a lot of those technologies have matured to the point where they have a role in the core product offerings at Novell," Cohen said.

The NEST division focused on two major initiatives: office automation products and technologies and embedded server technology; and powerline and gateway technologies.

The office automation products and technologies effort will become part of Novell's Internet Access Division, which has offices in both Utah and San Jose, Calif. The program develops software that connects printers, fax machines, scanners and other office equipment with a network.

The embedded server technology project is being folded into Novell's Internet Infrastructure Division, which also operates in both Utah and California.

Novell is looking for partners or investors for the powerline and gateway technologies projects piece of the NEST portfolio.

"We're continuing to move forward with that work, but those (employees) have not been assigned to any new organization within Novell," Cohen said. He said he didn't know how many people work on the powerline and gateway technologies.

Novell launched the powerline initiative with UtiliCorp United in 1995 to find ways to turn electric power grids into local area networks that could be used to control appliances and office devices.

"Novell is looking for other companies that would join us in investing in the technology," Cohen said. "If we were to spin if off, it's likely Novell would maintain some interest."

Cohen said possible partners for the powerline project would include electric power companies. He declined to comment on whether Novell is talking to any potential partners.

The focus of the gateway technologies project is developing home appliances that use embedded network technology. Logical partners are home electronics manufacturers, Cohen said.