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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  • It is really not clever from Novell that you don't support practically any new phone which came on the market in last year.
    I myself don’t care about server, because this is technical issue which we solve internally, but not supporting new phones is business problem and I can’t persuade my users not to buy new phones, because they will not be able to use corporate mail and calendar.
  • I'm not sure the nature of your comment but...

    I will go along with Novell in NOT supporting a mobile device that just released in the last year, hey it's hard to keep up.

    But...

    The push for ActivSync solution was to support the iPhone. As it's already been pointed out, those things have been out since 2007.

    2010 is here but no Novell-iPhone solution unless you have a budget to buy third party applications. Novell tell us they are going to support mobile devices but the haven't been able to get anything to market.

    Seems odd that at least two other groups have a solution for what Novell cannot figure out???? That right there shows that there are some major problems at Novell.

    As a result, people are leaving GroupWise since the rule #1 in customer service is to keep the customer happy and Novell is not doing that. I miss the days along time ago when Novell rocked, GroupWise was the cat's meow but that was then this is now.
  • Man, I feel like a broken record. Novell was first to market with a free sync solution. It was the best thing on the market at the time (Intellisync). Nokia bought Intellisync. Nokia scrapped Intellisync and didn't bother to give Novell a heads up. Novell had to come up with a solution, which is what we're talking about. Novell hasn't been sitting on their hands for years, watching the mobile phones go by. From nothing to market in around a year for something this complex is a pretty good time frame.

    The competitors that have solutions for the iPhone merely added one more device to the list of products that they already support. It's nothing like building an entirely new product. Be patient. The result will be worth the wait. If you need something now, pay for the third party app, like Notify. It works well enough, and you should realize that paying for Notify in addition to GroupWise is going to be cheaper than migrating to Exchange, by far.

    It should also be pointed out that Apple didn't raise a finger to try to support GroupWise. They did provide Exchange support with Active Sync. Microsoft didn't do a thing to support the iPhone - Apple did that work. Why didn't Apple work to support GroupWise? For the same reason they've never lifted a finger to support Netware or OES. They're elitist pigs who don't care about the needs of a pretty large portion of their clients. How can they get away with it, you ask? Magic, I think. People go into the Apple store knowing they're going to pay more, and they'll have to trade out everything else they own to have the pretty shiny sparkly thing, and they do it anyway. It's freaking amazing. I wish all of the disgruntled iPhone users would band together and kick Steve Jobs square in the ass for causing this discussion.

    If any of you drop GroupWise over the iPhone because your users demand it, it's your fault. The fact is, there are options for iPhone support with GroupWise, and have been for a long time. You would sooner drop a superior product with long standing success in your organization than pay for a few licenses for Notify, or whatever else. You're lying to your users when you say you can't support them. The truth is that you CAN support them. You just can't support them at no additional cost - for the time being. If your users are buying iPhones, they're paying through the nose for the service plan anyway; or your company is. Since when did anyone who buys an Apple product give a rat's ass about frugality?
  • It's odd just about all my past posts have supported Novell, but I have to reply back to your comments.

    You comment that Apple did all the work for supping Exchange, thats not correct. All that Apple did was code to an open, well documented and well tested API. GroupWise has never had such an API in place, instead it has been limited to a mix and match set of APIs. Novell has all ways defered the fixing of this issue and you can find posts going back 10+ years from people pleading for this to be resolved so that third parties can extend and expand Groupwise. Instead part solutions were delivered instead, such as the third party Nokia solution (which Apple was never going to support) or API retreads such as the web services layer that still can't even compress its data stream so is unuseable on a mobile device.

    The greatest problem for GW is that it needs a gateway to convert it's current APIs and data store into a communications process that can be used by phones. The new gateway may at last fix these issues but it's way to late too market. face it for most GW sites it needs to be in place for the first shipment of the new ipad hit people's desks not many months after.

    As for the rest of your post you are taking to point of view of an IT person, I have no idea where you work but most companies are run by CEOs, CTOs, CSO, CFOs who don't care about IT. For the last 2 years all they seem to have cared about is their iPhone, iTouch, Windows Moble or Android device all of which need this gateway.

    I do agree that any company that still has GW in place at this time should wait as the Exchange roll out with be costly and take far longer, but all I have seen in the last 2 years is GW being dropped by company after company and the only companies I know who still have GW in place have it because they all cut their IT budgets to zero.

    Roger
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  • It's odd just about all my past posts have supported Novell, but I have to reply back to your comments.

    You comment that Apple did all the work for supping Exchange, thats not correct. All that Apple did was code to an open, well documented and well tested API. GroupWise has never had such an API in place, instead it has been limited to a mix and match set of APIs. Novell has all ways defered the fixing of this issue and you can find posts going back 10+ years from people pleading for this to be resolved so that third parties can extend and expand Groupwise. Instead part solutions were delivered instead, such as the third party Nokia solution (which Apple was never going to support) or API retreads such as the web services layer that still can't even compress its data stream so is unuseable on a mobile device.

    The greatest problem for GW is that it needs a gateway to convert it's current APIs and data store into a communications process that can be used by phones. The new gateway may at last fix these issues but it's way to late too market. face it for most GW sites it needs to be in place for the first shipment of the new ipad hit people's desks not many months after.

    As for the rest of your post you are taking to point of view of an IT person, I have no idea where you work but most companies are run by CEOs, CTOs, CSO, CFOs who don't care about IT. For the last 2 years all they seem to have cared about is their iPhone, iTouch, Windows Moble or Android device all of which need this gateway.

    I do agree that any company that still has GW in place at this time should wait as the Exchange roll out with be costly and take far longer, but all I have seen in the last 2 years is GW being dropped by company after company and the only companies I know who still have GW in place have it because they all cut their IT budgets to zero.

    Roger
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  • Roger,

    I agree completely with you. The disappointment in the GW APIs has been going on since GW started and has only gotten worse since GW 5.5. Not being able to do a simple restore of a single message from tape is purely because of not having a communications server, GMS, to do that third party translation like exchange communications server. This should have been done back in GW 7 release and at least when GW 8 was released. And now a 3 month delay is going to put a lot of pressure on us to move to exchange. Right now we have blackberries but there is talk of moving to iphones because of the EULA from RIM. If this happens in the next few weeks then I may have no choice but to start down that path and once I go down that path I will not be coming back. If I am going to take the heat for email then I might as well use something that benefits my resume.

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