GroupWise Mobility Update

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As you can imagine I am getting daily emails about the status of our GMS replacement. In my last blog on the subject I stated that we would probably be shipping that product this month. Since that time and, as is often the case with software projects, things have not run entirely to plan. We had already put the product through our superlab for scalability testing, and refactored some of the code in response. We also had some additional work to do to change the underlying database that we using. So far everything looked good in our lab - we were getting good throughput (1000 users/devices in the test environment) and stability was good.

Then we got to the internal rollout. This is where we hit some problems - lab data and real life data are two very different things. Some users would sync with no issue at all, and some users could not get even the first item to sync. Product stability took a hammering too. Our engineering teams have been working through the issues and are making good progress, to the point where we are now syncing what seemed to be our most problematic mailboxes. In that process we have seemingly hit the item limit of an iPhone (9,999 emails), and we have Palm, Windows Mobile, Nokia and Android devices working against the server too.

In response to some of the early testing that we, and others have done, we have made a fairly major product change. We have consolidated our platform support matrix down to a single configuration. That supported configuration is 64bit SLES 11, using the PostgreSQL database. There are a few reasons that we did this, but the one that will help our customers the most is that we are delivering it as an Add-on CD for SLES. This means that you install it much like OES, and the wizard should take care of most of the configuration for you. This should allow you to get it up and running more quickly and reliably, and will cut down on the install types of questions that our support team gets.

We also looked at delivering the product as an appliance for XEN and VMWare, however, we chose to push that deliverable off until after we ship this first version. A question to you is how many of you are ready for a virtualized appliance, what kind would you want - and just as importantly, how many of you are not ready?

After all of the work that we did over the last 2 months we put the product through our superlab again, and results are very encouraging (caveat - test environment/data only). We seemed to comfortably scale to well over 1000 users on the configuration mentioned above. We also benchmarked it against GMS on the same hardware, and performed much better, both under normal load and very heavy load. On our test harness we had 1500 users configured and syncing with no real issue (CPU util, memory consumption, Disk I/O and response times were all within acceptable limits). We will get more real world data as we roll out more broadly internally, which is the real litmus test.

Our next milestone is to deliver the connector to our current set of Gradenko customers and let them validate it. After that we will go to closed beta, and then public beta. As I mentioned on NGWList yesterday I am expecting to get to public beta or FCS within the next 3 months or so, depending on closed beta experiences.

Dean recently blogged on the devices that will be supported here.

I am sorry that we are still not able to deliver the product, but I would rather we lived through this initial pain and get it fixed, rather than deliver something of low quality to our customers

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  • Novell needs a clear, meaningful direction and products that offer the features its competitors have led our users to expect (at least). Assurances that Novell has money in the bank are worth little when no one there seems to know how to invest that nest egg. I fear the only thing keeping GroupWise in our environment is internal political momentum, which is rapidly eroding.

    My users have been waiting for the new mobility add-on for months. They are losing patience. They regularly point out how GroupWise lacks many of the features they use at home. GroupWise is competing for mind share with Gmail as well as Exchange; both support ActiveSync.

    Our trusted consultants shrug when we ask where GroupWise is going. They can’t explain how Novell's expanding array of communications offerings complement one another or integrate into a cohesive strategy. None of their other customers have found Teaming worthwhile. Few see the point of Google Wave, let alone reason to consider a commercial implementation of it (i.e. Pulse).

    Our phone guys keep telling us about the integration we could implement if we "just" switch to Exchange. Their products don't support GW, and they don't plan to add such support since "everyone is running Exchange, or moving to it".

    Whatever advantage Novell once had in our organization may already be gone. I'll be happy to put a test VM on our VSphere servers, assuming you release something before May; by June we may be looking elsewhere.
  • "Few see the point of Google Wave, let alone reason to consider a commercial implementation of it (i.e. Pulse)"

    I don't think Pulse is a commercial implementation of Wave. Pulse can talk to Google's Wave using WFP and I do see this as something that really may just make the difference for Pulse. First of all Pulse is a new way to communicate or interact as you like with other people using it's own internal system. Hooking up Pulse to other systems, either using WFP to talk Google's Wave server, or using Datasync to talk to or sync information from Teaming/GroupWise/other systems turns it into a dashboard (Pulse was called project 'Cockpit' before) for all your communication and allows you to see, follow and search all that's important for 'you' making use of an universal inbox. Making use of Datasync connectors Pulse can be fed with streams out of other data silo's from any social network as Facebook, Linkedin or Novell's own product's Teaming/GroupWise/Messager/File/iFolder; anything that could be important to you as a user.

    Could something like Pulse be done in GroupWise, instead of creating a new product,? Well probably, but GroupWise is about mail and calendar (personal), Teaming is about working together and adding something like Wave (live interact with the rest of the world) cannot be done without restucturing those products. What would my customer say if I told him he could now start a wave in GW instead of sending a mail message? Most probably they would think 'ok, whatever' and send a mail anyway, just cause they are used to do that in GroupWise. To change this we need something new, appealing to the user, easy and anywhere to use... as we are gotten used to do at home (gmail, hotmail, yahoo).

    I spend quite a time every day trying to remember where I left a file, a message, something someone send me using either IM, Linkedin, my private mail, then trying to contact someone using those same channels and keeping in sync data in those silo's, that for me something like Pulse sounds verry welcome. Let Pulse decide for me how to contact someone. If it would do something live that could be using WFP and if a contact is offline and I only have an email address left of that contact it can let GroupWise drop a message.
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  • "Few see the point of Google Wave, let alone reason to consider a commercial implementation of it (i.e. Pulse)"

    I don't think Pulse is a commercial implementation of Wave. Pulse can talk to Google's Wave using WFP and I do see this as something that really may just make the difference for Pulse. First of all Pulse is a new way to communicate or interact as you like with other people using it's own internal system. Hooking up Pulse to other systems, either using WFP to talk Google's Wave server, or using Datasync to talk to or sync information from Teaming/GroupWise/other systems turns it into a dashboard (Pulse was called project 'Cockpit' before) for all your communication and allows you to see, follow and search all that's important for 'you' making use of an universal inbox. Making use of Datasync connectors Pulse can be fed with streams out of other data silo's from any social network as Facebook, Linkedin or Novell's own product's Teaming/GroupWise/Messager/File/iFolder; anything that could be important to you as a user.

    Could something like Pulse be done in GroupWise, instead of creating a new product,? Well probably, but GroupWise is about mail and calendar (personal), Teaming is about working together and adding something like Wave (live interact with the rest of the world) cannot be done without restucturing those products. What would my customer say if I told him he could now start a wave in GW instead of sending a mail message? Most probably they would think 'ok, whatever' and send a mail anyway, just cause they are used to do that in GroupWise. To change this we need something new, appealing to the user, easy and anywhere to use... as we are gotten used to do at home (gmail, hotmail, yahoo).

    I spend quite a time every day trying to remember where I left a file, a message, something someone send me using either IM, Linkedin, my private mail, then trying to contact someone using those same channels and keeping in sync data in those silo's, that for me something like Pulse sounds verry welcome. Let Pulse decide for me how to contact someone. If it would do something live that could be using WFP and if a contact is offline and I only have an email address left of that contact it can let GroupWise drop a message.
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