Within the next couple of years, Novell hopes to lower the total cost of ownership (TCO) of its GroupWise, while providing greater scalability and security. Over the nearer term, Novell is now working with partners to spur Macintosh, Linux and RIM Blackberry applications for the integrated collaborate environment (ICE), which competes against Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes, according to Howard Tayler, Novell's GroupWise product manager.
In a recent WebCast, Tayler demo'd some of the features in the upcoming GroupWise 6.5, while also delivering a general roadmap of what to expect in future releases, including products currently codenamed Aspen and Sequoia.
Formerly codenamed Hawthorne, GroupWise 6.5 is now in public beta, with shipment slated for February of 2003. On the administrative side, key enhancements will include access to message queues, as well as first-time support for "trusted applications."
If designated as "trusted" by the systems administrator, applications will receive server-side access to the message store. Tayler cited spam control and legal discovery tools as two types of applications likely to land in the first crop of "trusted" apps.
Novell expects to release an updated plug-in to Microsoft Outlook next year. In 6.5, Novell is also providing access to IMAP 4 at the POA, enabling native access - without plug-ins - from clients that include Outlook, Eudora, and Pine, a Unix mailer.
Furthermore, a more "open interface" will encourage development of third party Mac, Linux, and RIM apps, Tayler maintained during the Webcast, sponsored by IntelliReach. In the Mac space, Tayler pointed to application allies such as NovellIX and Emailandmore. In the RIM arena, GroupWise partners already announced include Consilient, Jarna, Notify, and Motient.
It's also "highly likely" that Novell will support IMAP extensions in the GroupWise 6.5 SDK, according to Tayler. The IMAP extensions would enable IMAP access to GroupWise-specific features, as opposed to IMAP-only features. Examples of these GroupWise-specific features include full status tracking, and the ability to link an item to two different folders. "We'll be talking more about the SDK in mid- to late January," he said during a follow-up interview.
Meanwhile, Novell will definitely include support for CAP in GroupWise 6.5 SP1. "CAP is still an unspecified spec. The support we include will be 'per the spec' - whatever that is -- at the time when SP1 ships."
"We've literally had partners coming out of the woodwork over the past six months," Tayler claimed during the Webcast. More than 20 GroupWise partners will exhibit their wares at Novell BrainShare 2003, up from only nine GroupWise partners at BrainShare 2002.
Also in 6.5, administrators will be able to use the Groupwise Internet Agent to subscribe to black lists. On the GroupWise client side, major improvements include checklist folders and views; contact management; and "aggressive end-user junk mail control."
Instant messaging (IM), another feature new in 6.5, will be added to the public beta "probably in December or January." Novell still needs to "iron out a couple of kinks," he conceded. Novell's first iteration of IM is "corporate." but the company does "have things in the works" for connectivity to public IM environments such as AOL and ICQ.
In a demo during the Webcast, Tayler displayed some of the current functionality of the 6.5 client, now available as a free download from Novell's Web site.
For example, Tayler showed how individual end users will be able to control spam by setting filters for both a "block list" and a "junk list," if permitted by the administrator.
Mail on the block list will never make its way to the end user, Tayler said. On the other hand, mail on the junk list comes through, but is temporarily set aside, to be handled on an item-by-item basis.
Users will also be able to configure the client so that all addresses not in the Personal Address Book - or that haven't been added to a "trust list" - will automatically go to "junk"
Also during the Webcast, Tayler voiced some choice words about IBM and Microsoft. "Some of you may wonder why Novell has two e-mail products," he admitted. Those two products are GroupWise, for "enterprise collaboration," and NetMail, for the ISP/EDU (education) market.
"There are two markets. Whether they grow together, or grow apart, we can address their needs properly," according to Tayler. "We don't want to lock you into a monolithic solution."
Like Novell, IBM recognizes the existence of both markets, he contended. In the ISP/EDU space, however, IBM has chosen to "make money off its hardware," leaving the software solution to its partner SendMail.
At the same time, Microsoft is "threatened by what's happening in e-mail," Tayler charged. After trying to market Hotmail alongside Exchange, Microsoft has now decided, "'Let's make everyone think they need Exchange (and Windows and .NET).'"
"This allows us to position our strength against (Microsoft's) weakness," according to Tayler.
In Novell's future roadmap, GroupWise 6.51 is targeted for mid-2003. 6.51 will then be followed by the release codenamed Sequoia in early 2004, and by the release codenamed Aspen in late 2004.
According to Tayler, feedback from customers shows that many users see no common theme to the codenames. People tend to think of "Hawthorne" as the name of an author, Sequoia as a "Toyota truck," and Aspen as a ski resort.
Tayler, though, chose these codenames after being challenged by engineering to come up with names that have "something in common."
He joked: "There's your trivia on where codenames come from. (They come from) bets between engineering and product marketing."
Also during the Webcast, which was produced by PlaceWare, Novell conducted several live polls among participants. About 67 percent of all respondents said they're running GroupWise with only one administrator. Another 20 percent are relying on two administrators. Meanwhile, 80 percent of the respondents said they're running GroupWise on networks of 100 or more users.
In future GroupWise releases, Novell will add even more "scalability and security," while lowering TCO, Tayler pledged.