Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Can GroupWise Make A Comeback?

Osman Baig, Novell Certified Salesperson
For the last few years, Novell in the opinion of many of its clients seemed to be on the way out. Their lack of third party application integration, a poor showing in the mobility space, and the absence in the cloud arena did not support the long time GroupWise loyalist when defending internally against the on slot of competitors such as Microsoft and Google.

iPad Sealed GroupWise's Fate with a Large Financial Institution

During a visit with a large financial institution in the state of New York last summer, their management had decided to migrate to Microsoft Exchange after being a long time Novell customer. The potential of migrating had been tabled for years but never had the momentum required as GroupWise worked well and the cost to go to a Microsoft platform would be an expense undertaking. The obvious question was, “What Changed?” A response did not shock me as I had heard this many times before. They had a pilot program for iPads that went to 20 senior executives and that sealed GroupWise’s fate.

Novell Responds to the Market

It seems Novell is paying attention based on the feature list and product changes publicized for GroupWise 2012. Stability and security where the key success factors for GroupWise historically and now with the release of GroupWise 2012 a lot is expected if the platform is to survive. Key things I see that Novell seems to have done to become a contender again are:

·      Making a stronger play in the mobility support arena with Data Synchronizer
·      Putting out and iPhone/iPad app
·      Increased features to bridge the gap with Outlook
·      Commitment to increase third party application support

Indicators the GroupWise May Be Back

The approach seems to have breathed some life back into the product. I recently was in conversations with a steel and aluminum part manufacturer out of Indiana that had basically made the decision to migrate GroupWise to Exchange 2010 when senior management instructed them to revisit GroupWise for a comparative review before making a decision.

This is slowly become more frequent and is a positive sign for the future of GroupWise. The big concern has to be around the churn already experienced and the prospective of winning new business.  

A long and hard journey ahead for Novell!


  1. Here is a fan of groupwise, because I have to maintain it. Maintenance ? Hmm not very much. So I'm happy. But my end users like to have outlook because they know it from home. And they are not interested in comparison. I want to have active directory support very soon. Otherwise I think I will also leave this product. We are going from edir to ad. So what can I do with groupwise. Waiting waiting waiting. Novell is a little bit late with it. As usual.

    1. In the recent past Novell missed released dates, features have been slow to improve and fixes have taken longer than acceptable but from discussions I recently had with people at the "new" Novell this is going to change and they will be the Novell that won so many loyal clients.

    2. Yes, release dates such as the release of GroupWise 2012 were missed, and with good reason. The "old" Novell would have kept announced dates so as to please Wall St. regardless of whether or not the product was ready. Today, being a private company, the "new" Novell no longer has to worry about shareholder expectations. This means products won't ship until they're ready and that's what happened with GroupWise 2012. Its release was delayed by about a month due to an issue that was discovered with WebAccess. Rather than keep a date but release product with a known issue, Novell decided to push the date back so that the issue could be fixed.

  2. Novell is on its way well with GroupWise. The 2012 version IS different from the 8 and previous versions. WebAccess is way better and so it has iPad support. The Windows client is IMO the most versatile adjustable to one's needs client there is in the email ecospace. Panels, RSS, tasks/checklist, folders, search folders, shared folders (tree of shared folders now ready in a second), shared address books, proxy (not the copy of a mailbox into your mailbox, but just access the mailbox), and on, and on ...

    Hence, GroupWise is what it is and will be:
    a good stable multi platform (LINUX, Open Source, OES, NetWare+Linux=theBestOneCanGet, and Windows server, if you must ;-P) based email and calendaring system, with connectivity to mobile devices, social networks, and a caching option to have your email always with you, as if you are in the office.


    1. I have great expectations from the new release and hope the product lives up to the expectations. If this does, they can stop the bleed of client and potentially have a strong position to start rebuilding their client base.

  3. I have many customer which are still on Groupwise and they know why. It is a strong, fast and stable mailsystem. The multi platform support is an benifit and it really still need less hardware than other systems. Going to the cloudn is also no solution because of compliance.
    The new webaccess in 2012 is much better than on 8. Third party integration is no problem for my clients. You just need to have a look at the market and it will be solved.
    So in my opinion Groupwise have a great future.
    Peter from Germany

    1. I have stated my opinion of the future of GroupWise and some of what needs to happen in my view such as the product delivering on expectations and it has to be solid.

      Secondly, the statement about cloud and compliance requirements conflicting is not the case. Many heavily regulated industries have starting moving to the cloud such as large banks in Michigan and Indiana as well as Hospitals in Texas and New England that I am aware of. This could have been the case in initial releases of cloud offerings when data security and other factors presented challenges but these offering have come a long way. I personally still see challenges from a risk perspective leaving data in the cloud that is not required from a business/operational perspective or for certain roles and responsibilities being exposed. This is a broader topic and I can address this in a future posting.

    2. So you want a hosted version of GroupWise (aka GroupWise in the cloud)? Guess you haven't seen Hosted Enterprise Mail powered by Novell GroupWise - www.hostedem.com

    3. I did see it but sorry to say they are late to the game and from an enterprise market perspective I have never engaged an organization considering this option so have invested no time investigating the offering. I personally would not put them in the category of a Google or Office365 offering. The question I always get is, "If we go cloud then which should we select, Google or Office365?"

      So, all this to say, I am not the right person to discuss this offering.

      As I like to provoke discussion:

      They are late to the game and I don't think they will become a major presence in the market and will fade away over time.

  4. Dude - please reduce the display of ignoence...

    Putting out and iPhone/iPad app??? You have been able to connect the native iPhone and iPad apps for nearly 3 years now...



    1. You seem to be the expert so please do direct me to the Novell developed app that works with and is integrated with the iPhone/iPad, unlike the stand alone app developed by Ghost Pattern Software. That third party app was a decent attempt at providing GroupWise access via the iPhone/iPad but lacks integration with other apps email options so really remains stand alone. Mobility server is not something I think I would even want to discuss or need too.

      Please do enlighten me on the app provided by Novell for the past 3 years that provides feature parity and device integration as those provided by other major email system providers. This would be great as I use GroupWise and own these devices.

    2. Hmm is there an Exchange app for iOS devices? No, because the native Mail app will quite happily talk to Exchange just as it will GroupWise by using IMAP/POP3 and SMTP.

      Think of Ghost Pattern's GW Mail app as the GroupWise equivalent of the third-party Outlook Mail Pro app for Exchange - both apps talk to the web interface of their respective email system.

      If you are using GroupWise 8/2012 and need to support iOS devices why wouldn't you want to implement the Data Synchronizer Mobility Pack? It's free if you have active GroupWise maintenance.

    3. Note: I'm a different 'Anonymous' than the first one:

      Connection to almost any mobile device, using that mobile device's own tools, has been possible since DataSync came out years ago. Android, iOS, whatever; the same protocol is used for synchronization to anything so without even installing extra software, and using the integration the mobile device has out of the box, e-mails, appointments, contacts... all of them have just worked.

    4. Dozens for organization I have engaged including myself have had a difficult time with iPhone and iPad functionality using the device's email and calendar functionality. I personally had to start using IMAP to get my mail from the GroupWise server and only use mobility for calendar.

      The greatest challenge has been with sync issues. I still need to reset my account every months to make sure my iPhone and iPad and GroupWise mirror each other and to clean up ghost appointments on my mobile devices from retracted or changes appointment.

      Mail had a lot of issues for me when moving email to folders and having that reflect across devices and even GroupWise. Categorization of the email on the devices would not reflect consistently across devices. As I spend two weeks a month on the road and the volume of email keeps increasing as you know, I need the ability to take these types of action from any device and expect consistent application of the action.

      This is my experience and it and I hear it regularly during conversations with clients as they complain about mobility issues.

      I hope the more recent version is better.

      As much as I am enjoying the back and forth I think it be would better for the technical folks to continue this thread. My intent is to take a specific stance to provoke interest discussions and the opportunity to review alternative ways of thinking and not too much personal input but its hard to help it sometime.

  5. Novell has supported iOS for nearly two years now, as that's how long Data Synchronizer has been available (since Sept. 2010). This is the same level of support Microsoft has for iOS, leveraging ActiveSync with these devices, as they do not currently have any native apps for these devices either. However, Novell has gone beyond just Data Sync with the introduction of iPad templates for WebAccess with the release of GroupWise 2012. This allows iPad users to have a native iOS-like experience with WebAccess if they don't want to actually sync their data. On top of all of that, with the release of GroupWise 2012 SP1 templates for both Android and Playbook are expected to be include which will expand the mobile capabilities of GroupWise.

    Novell is continuing to work with third-parties to get better integrations with GroupWise and in fact there is a great third-party ecosystem today. For those who absolutely need a third-party application which only integrates with Outlook, there's a partner currently working on a Data Sync connector which will allow the Outlook client to work with a GroupWise backend.

    There's definitely a lot of momentum these days. When you combine all the changes Novell is making with product development to get more features released more quickly along with an increased sales presence, it's easy to see the pendulum shift back in Novell's direction. Others agree. Just read this.


    1. I think Novell has an opportunity to protect their existing client base with the efforts being made. What worries me is when a catch races begins and things happen too quickly, mistakes can happen,issues can be missed, things can be unintentionally overlooked. Novell cannot afford new justification for internal Microsoft promoters, plenty of them, to push GroupWise out.

      Set the stage, deliver on promises, and reclaim you client base.

      There seems to be a theme here where some folks have emailed me personally and the assumption is that I am a GroupWise anti-sponsor. Folks I still use GroupWise! This is an interesting topic and a question I get often from organizations I meet with so I put it out there for discussion. For the few out there I am not taking a position but promoting discussion and different ways of thinking.

      Statement at the bottom of the blog:


      The intent of this site is to provide a forum for executives to state their opinions and additional points of consideration to surface alternative views on decision factors and provoke open discussions as it pertains to various topics such as business, management, technology, compliance, and and policy.

      This being said, no option is right or wrong but each choice has a varying degree of risk and accompanying consequences. The choices made by companies vary based on the organization’s risk tolerance, historical experience,and industry specific requirements, limitations, or opportunities.

  6. Migration from Groupwise to Exchange Server is really very complicated and time consuming task. To make the process simple, there are some third party programs in market like: http://groupwise-exchange.blogspot.com/

    P. C. Wren

  7. Checkout this blog post to convert GroupWise Mailbox to Exchange server. Read carefully and try it by yourself.


    Hopefully this post will surely help you.

  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.