Novell is starting development of an open source collaboration suite called Hula for email, calendar and contact lists, chief executive Jack Messman said in his opening keynote at LinuxWorld in Boston.
To kick-start the project, Novell is releasing 200,000 lines of code from NetMail, a hosted application that gives users access to email and calendar. The service currently has over four million users.
Messman invited the open source community to join Novell in the development effort. The company will publish a roadmap next month and expects to release the Hula application later this year.
The server will compete with Microsoft Exchange, IBM's Lotus Notes and Novell's own GroupWise, although it will initially lack the depth of functionality fully to replace those applications, Messman admitted.
"The goal of Hula is to become to collaboration what Apache is to servers," Messman told delegates.
The application will work with existing open source collaboration software on the client side.
NetMail is currently targeted at users such as students and factory floor workers who do not need a fully fledged productivity suite but still require access to email.
Messman expects that Hula will bring about the creation of application providers for collaboration suites where enterprises can buy services for their email, calendar and address book needs.
"Our customers told us that, if they could get out of the email business, that would be the best that ever happened to them," Messman told vnunet.com.
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