Novell last week mapped out the future of its groupware offering.
The plan includes closer integration with Internet and intranet technology, greater adherence to open standards and Java support.
In the first quarter of next year, Novell will introduce a Java-enabled version of GroupWise WebAccess, followed by a separate Java-based client.
The forthcoming GroupWise WebAccess 5.0, now in beta, will enable users to access their GroupWise Universal MailBox from any machine with an Internet connection and a standard browser. The Java version will be html 3.0 compliant and is Novell's first stage towards platform independence.
"We're going to change the way organisations view the groupware paradigm," claimed Stewart Nelson, vice president and general manager of the GroupWare division. Platform independence is a key plank in that strategy, he explained, because "most organisations are a melting pot of technology, and they want their users, wherever they happen to be and whatever they happen to be working on, to be able to communicate and collaborate without having to replace an entire technology infrastructure".
Also as part of the strategy, Novell will ship the IntranetWare Software Development Kit for Java by the end of the year.
Within the next year, Novell said it will release its Jefferson Project, a Web publishing and document management system for intranets and the World Wide Web. Under the system, documents will reside in the GroupWise library and be dynamically published to the Web by a server process. It will also contain a full-text search engine.
The road map Novell sketched out last week is meant to deliver on the promises made by company President Joe Marengi at the launch of GroupWise 5.0 in September, when he predicted GroupWise would be the leader in the groupware market within a year.
Marengi wants GroupWise to be numbr one within a year - it's currently in third place behind Lotus and Microsoft. That's a very tall order. While Nelson is right in pointing out that Java-enabled groupware could provide an attractive migration path for companies who want to use groupware without having to upgrade from proprietary client software, it is unlikely to be enough to boost sales to meet Marengi's target.
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