Changes Loom for Novell’s Groupwise and Netmail

Novell plans to release a new client interface to its GroupWise integrated
collaborative environment (ICE) in December. Further down the road, both of
Novell’s messaging environments – GroupWise and NetMail – look likely to
get deeper architectural changes.

GroupWise 6 will receive the enhanced client interface as part of Service
Pack 2, said Howard Tayler, Novell’s GroupWise product manager, in an
interview with CrossNodes. Features will include new contact management
tools and an e-mail-based “to do” list, for instance.

“You’ll be able to open up your mailbox in the morning and use your
messages to help figure out what you need to do today. You can acknowledge
your e-mails, or reorder them in the folder,” according to Tayler.

Novell first shipped GroupWise 6 in April, 2001. “Our goal with GroupWise 6
was to use technologies like distributed processing and mailbox caching to
let customers consolidate more mailboxes on to the same hardware,” he said.
GroupWise 6 Service Pack 2, released in November of 2001, added Novell’s
Padlock security fix.

Aside from GroupWise, Novell also sells NetMail, a lighter weight, Internetbased
messaging environment, previously known as NIMS, that was first
created by Novell spin-off Novonics. Novell renamed the product after
Novonics re-entered the company fold.

NetMail gets most of its use from ISPs, universities, and other entities
outside of the “enterprise collaborative market,” Tayler said

GroupWise runs on NetWare and Windows servers, NetMail, on the other hand,
operates on NetWare, Linux, or Solaris servers.

GroupWise can be used with either its own client or with Outlook. Some
users prefer one client, and some the other. In one Internet newsgroup, a
user said that he needs to run the GroupWise client instead of Outlook, for
gaining quick simultaneous access to multiple desktops.

Novell’s Tayler squared off against Wayne Dunn, principal consultant for
Microsoft partner AimNet, during an online debate held by Intellireach in
August. In the follow-up interview with CrossNodes, Tayler took the
opportunity to fling a few more barbs at rival ICEs Microsoft Exchange and
Lotus Notes.

“Microsoft makes a big deal out of ‘owning the market.’ Their response to
the messaging market is Exchange. But the reality is that Exchange doesn’t
fit everywhere. Maybe a customer wants to run Unix. Maybe a customer
doesn’t want to run Windows,” Tayler contended.

“IBM recognized that the Notes product doesn’t fit everywhere. So it
partnered (with outside Linux developers) to use SendMail (on its servers).
Novell didn’t need to partner with anyone. We have two messaging products
in our arsenal.”

In another follow-up interview, Dunn countered Tayler’s attack by
criticizing Novell’s double-barreled approach to the messaging market.
“Novell trumpets this as a strength. I see it as a lack of direction,” Dunn

Suggesting that Microsoft may have learned from past mistakes, Dunn
theorized that Microsoft is smart to stick with just one messaging product.
In some other product categories, Microsoft has at various times “flooded
the market with a variety of products, confusing the client base,” he

“You have to look past the (market) statistics,” Dunn added. “People out
there in the industry know that customers are moving over to
ActiveDirectory and Exchange,” he asserted.

For his part, Tayler acknowledged that Novell’s share of the ICE market
dropped significantly during the year 2000 timeframe. He blamed the
decline, though, mainly on negative reports from certain analysts. “(These
analysts) were saying, “We’re not sure where Novell is headed.” Now,
though, these same analysts have started to issue more upbeat reports about
Novell, and Novell’s share is on a big upswing, according to Tayler.

“Since (the year 2000), we’re been communicating our strategy, and
executing on it,” he maintained. “Marketing isn’t just about magazine or TV
ads. It’s about getting your message across to key decision makers – and a
lot of key decision makers talk to analysts.”

Statistically, however, Novell is generally showing stronger growth in
terms of installed base, as opposed to the revenue side. “I don’t know why
that is. Maybe we don’t soak the customer as hard,” he conjectured.

Meanwhile, Novell is building more security into GroupWise on an ongoing
basis, according to Tayler. “Novel has a solid track record, but we keep
adding more security where nobody even knew there were layers,” he quipped.

For further down the road, Novell is eyeing a “modular collaborative”
messaging architecture, Tayler said. “I can’t say very much about this, but
it could apply to both our (messaging) products. Customers may never have
thought about whether they’re in the ‘GroupWise’ or ‘NetMail’ space. They
just know what their problems are, and what they need.”

“That sounds like a good idea. GroupWise has some capabilities that NetMail
doesn’t, and vice versa. The two products are completely separate,”
responded Matt DeFoor, directory engineer at the University of Kentucky.

“Right now, NetMail is for people who have large-scale environments,
whereas GroupWise is more for collaboration. NetMail is standards-based,
while GroupWise uses ‘proprietary’ calendaring and mailboxing systems. I
think GroupWise will always be somewhat more collaborative, though,”
according to DeFoor. The school currently uses a combined Novell
NetMail/Microsoft Exchange messaging environment.


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Jacqueline Emigh

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