Novell has laid out a four-year roadmap for its flagship e-mail collaboration product GroupWise.
The move is aimed at allaying fears among GroupWise users that the package would be rapidly run down in favour of Novell’s Linux-based groupware alternative Evolution.
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Novell GroupWise includes e-mail, calendaring, instant messaging, task management, document management and data storage functions, and competes against the likes of IBM’s Lotus Notes and Microsoft's Outlook.
In its announcement Novell said that despite its adoption of more Linux-based solutions - including the SuSE Linux line - its traditional Novell products still had a future.
The next release of GroupWise, codenamed "Sequoia", is due to be released in the summer of 2005, followed by "Aspen" and "Cedar", planned for autumn 2006 and spring 2008 respectively.
"While Novell continues to garner positive reviews for our Linux and open-source strategies, we also want to be clear that our GroupWise customers can look forward to a bright future with GroupWise on the platform of their choice," said David Patrick, Novell general manager of platforms and services.
Novell said GroupWise Sequoia will provide "significant interface improvements and new functionality". Novell said it will also improve the application programming and administration interfaces in GroupWise.
Novell will announce further details about GroupWise Sequoia at its annual BrainShare customer conference in March in Salt Lake City.
With GroupWise Aspen, Novell is planning further team collaboration and to provide new data backup capabilities. Novell will also focus on enabling more partner applications.
The focus for GroupWise Cedar, said Novell, is to bring the functionality of GroupWise to users on "any platform, anywhere, and at any time, to improve user experience, and to increase administrative functionality and scalability".
After the assurance to users that GroupWise has a future, users of Novell’s established network operating system NetWare, will be looking for similar guarantees.
Novell is expected to launch its Open Enterprise Server (OES) for Linux this month.
OES will allows users to combine key features of Novell’s NetWare - such as file and print - with Novell’s SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 platform.
The fact that Novell is putting main functions of NetWare onto a Linux platform will fuel concern among some NetWare users that Novell is about to end support for the product, whose share of the market is constantly shrinking against server solutions from Microsoft and others.