GroupWise: The Next Chapter!

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Bob Flynn is the new President and General Manager for the Novell Business Unit. He posted a blog on July 28th outlining the ‘Next Chapter’ for Novell. See Blog here.



The day before this blog was posted, Bob and Jeff Hawn - Attachmate Group CEO - addressed the engineering team in a BBQ lunch meeting at the Provo campus. It was a call to action! In my opinion, Attachmate Executives have done an excellent job in just a few short weeks of streamlining the portfolio and focusing our efforts, resources, energy and future in all of the right directions – finally!! The simple statement: “Novell is hiring more R & D resources in Provo, UT and reinvesting in our core products with more frequent releases” is music to my ears. I have also heard from our customers and partners that this is an awesome and a welcomed message. Furthermore, this is immediately affecting the GroupWise engineering resources– positions have been posted, recruiting and re-recruiting has begun.

Not only is it important, from my perspective, to increase the investment in our core products, but it is equally important how the “focus and portfolio management” will allow us to be able to cleanly execute. We finally having a collaboration strategy that is business focused, customer driven, product and marketing managed and engineering aligned will make such a huge difference!

In addition, I have been asked to take on a new project where I will be spending my time executing one of our new taglines: create a direct line of sight from our customers directly to our engineering teams. Our customers have always been very loyal and now we need to help you be loyal. It will obviously take some time to satisfy each and every customer, but with the added investment and the renewed executive interest in wanting to make the Collaboration business a success, this will get done!



In addition, we still have a very dedicated and talented engineering team – the absolute best. I have full confidence they will deliver.



Now I don’t want to over promise or make anyone believe that ‘tomorrow’ we will provide solutions for everything. But our commitment is:




  • Deliver higher-quality solutions and greater customer value faster

  • Enable customers to upgrade to latest versions at their own pace

  • Enable and secure a portable workspace across wired and mobile devices

  • Consolidate and leverage social experience across our collaboration portfolio



Here is a list of categories (some are very big buckets, I know) where our customers expect solutions. Help us prioritize! Give me your top 3 out of this list and any specifics you want to include. Have we missed any? Are there any of these that you are not as interested in?



Note: They are not in any particular order.




  • 3rd-Party Integrations

  • Mobility (RIM, ActiveSync)

  • Quality

  • Windows Client Features

  • WebAccess Features (Tablet/Simple Templates, Web IM)

  • Co-Existence (Exchange/GW)

  • Currency (latest platforms, fresh look, latest architecture)

  • Active Directory Support / Administration Model

  • Unified Communications

  • Security

  • Instant Messaging/Conferencing

  • Document Management

  • Cloud / Hosted

  • Mac

  • Outlook




Of course, this list is very high level. In several of these areas there is currently a solution or a partial solution.



Well – It seems like I have said enough….Thoughts?



Dean


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  • Tristan,

    We hear you loud and clear. It is clear to us and our customers that with regards to GW, OES, and ZEN, we have not been paying enough attention. The corporate agendas, direction and energy were simply focused elsewhere. That is changing!!

    Your feedback is valid and unfortunately not unique. We will do better!

    Thanks for your priority list and for your candor.

    Dean
  • Thanks for the feedback...

    #3...RIP C1....we are on this one. We will have extensive demos at BrainShare.
    #1...understood on both Outlook and Mac. Mac is a straight forward problem and one we can solve. Multiple options here...but our current option is still WebAccess. Outlook is not as easy. Technical, business, support, competitive advantage issues galore. Issue is well understood..just not easy solutions.
    #2...Anything more specific? Ideas on the WOW?

    Dean
  • >> How about the fact that this and just about all the other dialog box screens with GW are from GW5, over the years the way in which information is shown by other applications has changed somewhat - So GW now has a dynamic panel based main interface and dialog boxes from 97.

    So if I understand this correctly, your basic complaint is that they are not sexy enough, should have different looking controls, etc?

    >> f you only want a few weeks of email on the road you take a BB or iPhone. I have never had to support a board member / key business person who want's just the last 2 weeks emails to hand, more often they want all their email going back years - and the whole point of GW is that unlike most exchange deploys you can store all this information.

    I have a client who is an attorney who has a GW mailbox that must have in excess of 60,000 e-mails in it. At one time he had over 20,000 in his trash! This guy travels frequently to Europe, Asia not to mention the old Soviet republics on business. He has yet to take more then about a 3 to 4 week snapshot with him and I think he is pretty representative or a road warrior.

    >> Sorry, but you may have missed the small point that the GW client already allows access to the local database via it's current Object API. The thing it can not do is report what has changed, so an external tool has to rescan the whole data file time and time again which is not good for a search solution.

    No my friend I have not missed the point. The only application that can index your local GW data store is GW. Nor am I confused about the Trusted Application API, I know what it is and exactly how it works.

    The Google Desktop indexer cannot index the GW data store to my knowledge. It can however index any local OL/E data. So you seem to be suggesting that the GW data store be stored as text so 3rd party tools can index it or do I misunderstand you?

    It is not like a message you received three years ago is going to change. You might get a message that references an e-mail ( an addition to a thread?? ) but the original will not change.

    So what is it you really want? I could see a key-word index that as you type you get subject lines popping up all where those key words are contained. If you are talking about the entire users GW repository taken onto a laptop ala "hit the road" you have better have a pretty snarfy laptop since at least with my guy the indexing of 20 or so gigs of e-mail in that fashion is gonna take a lot of time and horsepower.

    Back to security...

    I trust a GW system that has a local DB on a laptop to be pretty damn secure unless the user has a weak and easily guessable password since without that password cracking a GW data store is damn near impossible given that it is both encrypted and compressed with a compression method that is like zip but is not zip and as of yet I do not think that information has been published.

    In short, I see where you want to go but I just don;t see how you can get there with an external program without either using a form of the Trusted Application API to allow 3rd party tools to just index on the fly a they currently do or doing a fairly massive re-write of the GW system itself to do search in a very different way as you seem to be suggesting.


  • >> Changing the look and feel to what and why?

    How about the fact that this and just about all the other dialog box screens with GW are from GW5, over the years the way in which information is shown by other applications has changed somewhat - So GW now has a dynamic panel based main interface and dialog boxes from 97.

    >> Sticky setting... OK but stored in the user db.

    YES as these will replicate across all instances of the user's client.

    >> Yes the indexing could be better, but it would seem to me that taking your entire e-mail DB on the road is a little silly since most people are not off the grid for that long a time. Take a current snapshot instead of the last few weeks at most.

    If you only want a few weeks of email on the road you take a BB or iPhone. I have never had to support a board member / key business person who want's just the last 2 weeks emails to hand, more often they want all their email going back years - and the whole point of GW is that unlike most exchange deploys you can store all this information.

    >> API - If any desktop search engine is allowed to search the local GW system we have opened a very very large security hole.

    Sorry, but you may have missed the small point that the GW client already allows access to the local database via it's current Object API. The thing it can not do is report what has changed, so an external tool has to rescan the whole data file time and time again which is not good for a search solution.

    I think you are mixing things up a little the trusted App API is there to allow control over applications that access the GW data store without the involvement of the user who's data is being accessed. A desktop search tool on the other hand is under the direct control of the user and so the user can provide the correct login details to allow it access to the local GW database (via the GW client). As such the security model is not changed.



  • Changing the look and feel to what and why?

    Sticky setting... OK but stored in the user db.

    Yes the indexing could be better, but it would seem to me that taking your entire e-mail DB on the road is a little silly since most people are not off the grid for that long a time. Take a current snapshot instead of the last few weeks at most.

    API - If any desktop search engine is allowed to search the local GW system we have opened a very very large security hole. To do this it will require at a minimum:

    1. Pushing down the Trusted Application API down to the client, since any indexing to a 3rd party application will have to be run through the local GW engine since the files are both compressed AND encrypted.

    2. Added functionality to launch the GW system with a specific message index entry eg: grpwise.exe /lmi=4F213AC3D (local message index ) since we cannot allow the desktop search engine to extract the message contents for storage elsewhere as this would be a security violation.

    You have to understand that OL != GW. OL's PST files are a gaping freely exploitable security hole as is the OL address book. GW is designed to be a secure e-mail system.

    We cannot violate that security and hope to remain in the corporations we are in or get traction in new ones. If you see this as "just another reason to 'upgrade' to Outlook" then I submit that you are failing in your duty to evangelize and sell the product. You must turn any weakness or perceived weakness in OL to your advantage to sell into those accounts and maintain them.

    I agree that we are relying on this new and fresh drive provided by Attachmate to get GW to where it needs to be to make our job easier but your efforts to maintain and move GW forward are not that hard if you take the time to sit down with clients and show them exactly why GW is a superior product.
  • >>Indeed Rip C1, and give us one way to manage everything. But one important thing
    >>about this is that if it's webbased IT MUST BE FAST and PERFECT! Consoleone is
    >>old, but still use it more than iManager for usermanagement.

    The key thing is to provide a set of public Admin APIs so that other people can create working Admin tools even if Novell keeps messing things up. C1 was never really finished and before the bugs were fixed Novell went off down the road of a poor web GUI based on a dead portal engine (and this was 8 odd years ago). Since then every team at Novell seems to want to code their own unique GUI to do what they think is needed, without every asking the user based what they wanted/needed.

    If there was a working API someone else would have created a working solution by now, but instead we have been stuck with a pile of un documented DLLs that half the time want to go an make changes directly to the data files.

  • One area that needs to be addressed is the search feature, including

    1) A simple re-design of the current search dialog in the Windows client would be a good start as it's not changed it's look and feel for over 10 years.

    - Allow sticky settings otherwise users have to keep selecting/deselecting areas to look in.
    - have some easy control over the size of emails to be searched without having to used
    the advanced screen - maybe even an account/PO level control.

    2) Improve the built in index builder used in the client and server. Having talked to Novell staff over the
    years it's clear that this has been a plan for 10+ years. The current solution could be improved with controls over the size of attachements indexed, but the way in which the index file is re-built time and time again is a nightmare and in the past I've had to install SSD drives into people's laptops just to keep GW going.

    3) API within the client to allow intergration with desktop search tools. Having GW be the only app on a machine that can not be intergrated with desktop search is just another reason to 'upgrade' to Outlook.
  • Indeed Rip C1, and give us one way to manage everything. But one important thing about this is that if it's webbased IT MUST BE FAST and PERFECT! Consoleone is old, but still use it more than iManager for usermanagement.

    Oh and by the way i'm still missing "Nested group" support for eDirectory. That's a big reason for us to take AD. And i mean on a simple way!. So: consoleone > open a group and add an existing group to it. I know it's not official ldap but it's handy and that's what we want.

  • - Mobility (RIM, ActiveSync)
    - Active Directory Support / Administration Model
    - Ability to get your documents/mail from any device (project horizon?)
    - Groupwise Webacces in line with Client Features.

    You need to stay up-to-date with the products!,
    This is the time to choose for an MDM (mobile device management), Looking at the new Zenworks suites i see a very old "Zenworks Handheld Management" to manage your nokia 3310. We have it in our suite, but what do you think?

    I hope Novell will make better product releases.
    I know a version 1.0 is has many bugs. But i don't like to wait 1,5-2 years before a product is stable for production while it's already released. (ZCM = good example)
    If Novell is not fast enough to provide patches / solutions people are going away!
    And keep in mind: "don't break things that were allready fixed!"
    Last year i was not a system administrator anymore... more a Service Request manager!!!!
    (had a lot of SR's for ZCM / Datasync)

    If Novell products are working, then it's working great! but before you've it working as it should..... :)
    I'm hoping it will be better. Listen to your customers! Otherwise they are gone!

    Tristan
  • 1. Users shout MS Outlook, directors want to use MS Outlook and MAC users are frustrated. They could not care less about the back end.
    2. Give us a wow factor with the iPad and Data-Sync mobile solutions!
    3. RIP C1

    My two cents. . .
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