Novell breathes new life into GroupWise

Exchanging notes

server room
ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

Novell Inc, which has had to play second fiddle to Microsoft Corp's Exchange and IBM/Lotus Corp's Notes, is once again gearing itself up for an assault on the enterprise collaboration software market.

The Provo, Utah-based company has previewed plans for its next-generation GroupWise platform - version 6.5, due out in February next year - in an attempt to gain some ground on the two incumbents. Novell, together with close partner IntelliReach Corp (which provides monitoring, alerting and reporting services for GroupWise), outlined several new features that the company hopes will differentiate its offering.

GroupWise product manager, Howard Taylor detailed a strategy would provide different versions of the product for specific needs. Novell will continue to offer GroupWise to enterprise customers but will also provide a separate NetMail component for the internet services market. Taylor believes that such a modular, versioned approach will offer greater deployment flexibility than Microsoft of IBM/Lotus products.

Version 6.5 will provide new instant messaging (IM) capabilities via a new application called Conversation, which is still under development, and has yet to be beta tested. The new IM system will not be compatible with other IM clients in the version 6.5 release, but Taylor said that such integration plans are "in the works". Improved anti-spam capabilities, which Novell claims will reduce unwanted email by 65%, are another new feature.

Taylor also said that he would be pressing forward GroupWise's inherent strengths in total cost of ownership (TCO) as a key competitive differentiator in the market when the product is formally launched next year. But Novell has its work cut out in its attempts to make a dent in Microsoft's and IBM/Lotus combined market share. Market research firm IDC estimates that GroupWise has a global installed base of 34 million users.

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