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Novell Next Generation Groupwise
Over the last few years two companies have come to dominate the enterprise collaboration software market space. Microsoft Corporation with its Exchange tool leads the space, with IBM's Lotus Notes product in hot pursuit. In the past Novell Inc. has also been a serious contender with its GroupWise technology and the Utah based company now looks to be getting ready to make another push into this area.
With its last release, GroupWise v6 supported a fairly comprehensive set of collaboration functionality including the usual suspects e-mail, calendar, daily notes and task lists. It is worth noting that GroupWise included wireless support 'out of the box' enabling WAP-enabled devices and PDAs to access e-mail, schedule appointments and share documents whilst users are on the move.
GroupWise 6 also made available a greatly reduced cost license to support users without access to their own workstation or those not running a GroupWise client to use the GroupWise toolset. Indeed, the software utilised a Smart Caching mode to enables users to be able to work from their hard drives without needing to maintain a constant connection to the GroupWise server. Smart Caching could significantly decrease server requests and server overhead by more than 50 percent thus effectively reducing overall networking costs.
News is now surfacing about the forthcoming release of GroupWise 6.5 that is scheduled for February 2003. It is interesting to see that Novell aim to provide a number of distinct versions of the software, each tailored to meet specific requirements. For example, it has been revealed that in addition to the standard enterprise edition will be complemented by a separate component, NetMail, targeted at Internet Service organizations.
Novell has disclosed that the new functionality available in version 6.5 will include a new application, Conversation, to supply Instant Messaging capabilities. The new tools will also supply sophisticated spam filtering capabilities to help users manage unwanted e-mail more effectively.
Whilst the new software looks to be very attractive it is clear that Novell faces a significant challenge to increase its installed base to anything approaching the levels achieved by Microsoft and IBM / Lotus. The groupware market is highly competitive in functionality but it is an extremely difficult decision for an organization to take in order to change its installed platform. Migration between systems is not without risk and needs to be very carefully managed. Novell's GroupWise has a good reputation for features and claims to come with a very low cost of ownership. Watch out next spring to see if Novell can really shake up the current collaboration incumbents.
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