During a live debate over the Web this month, Novell hurled verbal darts at Exchange, IIS and Outlook security holes. A Microsoft partner taunted Novell for using its GroupWise ICE (integrated collaborative environment) to "play catch-up." Within the same hour, the debaters also grappled over analysts' statistics, Exchange 2000 migration costs, and dual operability for GroupWise on NetWare and Windows servers.
Microsoft and Novell keep sparring, anyhow, "in the form of press releases and marketing campaigns," noted Intellireach CEO Sam Levine, at the start of the recent online event. Intellireach, sponsor of the debate, produces software management tools for both Exchange and GroupWise, two of the three leading ICE players. The event used Placeware's Webcasting technology.
"Is your collaborative system always available?" asked Howard Tayler, Novell's GroupWise product manager, the lead-off debater. "Will it stay up in the face of hacks, cracks, and virus attacks?"
Not surprisingly, Tayler maintained that GroupWise will stay up, but Exchange won't. The product manager pointed to a chart indicating high incident rates for Code Red, SirCam, Anna K., I Love You, and Melissa for instance, among Exchange customers.
On Web pages far and wide, "Microsoft is being lambasted for its security problems," according to Tayler. More specifically, he pointed to $1.2 billion in industry damage from Code Red as resulting from Microsoft's inability to "secure their servers."
Representing the Microsoft side, Wayne Dunn, principal consultant at AimNet Solutions, clearly wanted to switch the spotlight to Microsoft's higher market share, wide-ranging training programs, and $5 billion R&D budget .
While acknowledging Microsoft's security "vulnerabilities," Dunn heaped a lot of the blame on Microsoft's sheer prevalence as a platform.
Dunn also admonished systems administrators to help battle bad code by installing patches and configuring firewalls correctly. If a server is down for four days all due to a worm, the administrator is being "lax," according to Dunn.
"Let's be real. All messaging systems are vulnerable," he charged. Dunn recalled doing a major migration from GroupWise to Exchange, in which the "GroupWise system had so many viruses" that partners were rejecting their mail. It really didn't matter that the NetWare servers stayed up all the while. GroupWise was rendered "useless," according to Dunn.
The bottom line, though, is that "Exchange is climbing while GroupWise is declining," he asserted. "Exchange is the overall leader in deployment with a 50 percent installed base in 2000," according to the Microsoft partner.
Tayler, though, didn't buy Dunn's arguments. "We have seen a different trend," said the Novell employee. "Many (Exchange users) are opting to migrate over to GroupWise."
Furthermore, Exchange 5.5 - as opposed to Exchange 2000 - still accounts for much of Microsoft's market share, he contended.
Tayler cited figures from IDC which show growth for Exchange and GroupWise alike between 2000 and 2001. in terms of both revenues and the installed base. "GroupWise has a fantastic security record today. We don't have vaporware promises," he added.
Tayler admitted to security problems around Padlock, a previous GroupWise bug. After Padlock, though, outsiders who pounded on Novell's system were unable to find any further exploits, according to the product manager.
Tayler drummed on Novell's advantages in the areas of simplicity, scalability, mobility, and crossplatform support, aside from security. GroupWise runs on both Windows and NetWare servers, he emphasized.
For his part, Dunn questioned Tayler's statement, earlier in debate, that the Ferris Group has figured Windows 2000 migration costs at $800 per seat. That number is at the high end of Ferris' estimates, he elaborated.
Dunn also suggested that Novell might be riding on Microsoft's coattails into the groupware space. "Microsoft has taken us to the moon many times. Novell has never left Earth's orbit," he remarked.
Exchange supports not just Outlook, but POP3 and IMAP clients, he observed. On the whole, Dunn also stressed what he sees as "a solid and integrated OS foundation, a scalable and flexible architecture, a comfortable end user experience, and internal and external support" as key reasons to go with Exchange over GroupWise.
Live viewers of the debate were able to ask questions. "How come Novell has two (e-mail) products?" asked one participant, in reference to Novell's Netmail environment.
Netmail, according to Tayler, was originally developed at Novonics, a Novell spin-off. When Novonics was folded back into Novell, Novell decided to keep the lighter weight, Internet-based mail system.
"Analysts are looking at (the messaging market), and trying to decide what is going to happen in ten years," he said. "Novell is the only player with products in both spaces." This gives Novell strategic flexibility "in ways that Microsoft flat out" doesn't have, in Tayler's opinion.
According to a recent IDC report on the ICE market, second-place player Microsoft grew 4.2 percent between 2000 and 2001 to $646 million, for a 39.4 percent share, in terms of worldwide revenues. Novell grew 3.4 percent to $101.5 million, for a 6.2 percent share. With its Lotus Notes environment, though, IBM dropped slightly by 0.7 percent to $804 million, for a share of 49 percent.
On the installed base side, the picture looked even better for Exchange and GroupWise. Although IBM rose 12 percent to 74 million users, Microsoft soared 44.6 percent to 83 million, taking over the lead. Meanwhile, Novell stepped up substantially by 29.6 percent, to 33.7 million users worldwide.