As products evolve and technologies change, we sometimes have to sunset some technologies and capabilities in order to stay current, sustain maintainability or streamline engineering efficiencies.
Over the course of a product's life cycle, many things can and do change. New hardware, new platforms, better tools and even changing markets or customer needs. Any software product with a robust history like GroupWise will experience these changes.
Sometimes the changes are obvious and well received. Other times, the changes may feel forced, unplanned or too abrupt. I thought it would be worthwhile to discuss the changes that are coming, or that have already come. It is about awareness, about planning and about discussing the logic behind the decisions.
To provide some additional context for this discussion, I think it is worthwhile to explain some of the drivers around technology life cycle.
Software Tools - in order to build a software product, you must rely on technologies which are provided by 3rd-party companies. We use development tools from Microsoft, Sun, IBM, Oracle, Flexera, Apple, open source providers, etc. These tools are a tremendous asset that help speed development and provide consistency across different software developers. However, as these underlying technologies move through their life cycle, they can force change in our products.
In GroupWise 8, for example, we had to completely revamp our Windows install programs to move to the latest versions of InstallShield. In this process, some capabilities of our install were lost while gaining new capabilities. We also had to move to a new version of the Windows compiler – which while largely a major benefit, also had a small downside.
Sometimes, these 3rd-party providers go out of business, change business models, sell their technology, change their support models or simply discontinue offering their solutions.
MAPI (Messaging Application Programming Interface) is probably one of our best examples. In the 90's, Microsoft introduced what the industry believed was a open standard. We built our Address Book, Name Completion and Desktop Integration solutions on this technology - as did many companies. Microsoft later decided to no longer allow 3rd parties redistribution rights to this subsystem. We still, in some very rare cases, have to install an older version of MAPI to ensure GroupWise works.
What's NOT in Ascot
- NetWare - The NetWare platform will not be supported in the upcoming release of GroupWise Ascot. NetWare has entered into the extended support of its life cycle. NetWare has provided great functionality, stability and reliability for our customers. While leaving NetWare and some of its strengths, the move to OES provides a bright future for our customers. Broader hardware vendor support, a wide variety of open source tools and utilities, stronger virtualization options and world-class support. OES, SLES and Windows are all supported server platforms for Ascot.
- GWINTER - The WebAccess architecture was in need of a significant overhaul. The solution that started out as a 'demo' had evolved into a less efficient strategy. In an effort to modernize our web solutions, provide features more often and significantly simplify our installation and configuration, the GWINTER agent was removed from the GroupWise product. While some flexibility in data center design will be lost with this change, the long term maintainability, quicker feature development and more efficient traffic on the wire were seen as obvious advantages to the current methodology.
- WebPublisher - The WebPublisher technology will no longer be part of the GroupWise family. As we position the product for a much stronger web presence, we needed to significantly update our web architecture to facilitate more rapid product cycles, easier administrator roll outs and more efficiency in our development process. WebPublisher was a byproduct of this architectural change to remove the GWINTER agent.
We recognize that some of our customers rely heavily on this part of the product. As we transition our Document Management capability to Novell Vibe, we expect to replace the WebPublisher capability with Novell Vibe solutions.
- SNMP - Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) has been a part of GroupWise for some time. As a standard, it is broadly utilized and very well understood. As we transition to 64-bit solutions, continuing to support this functionality on all platforms has been frustrating. Linux has been a major sticking point.
The SNMP daemon is loaded by the OS. It loads our code as a dynamic library, a .so on Linux. The .so that is loaded is dependent on a 64-bit GroupWise engine. The .so (Dynamic Shared Object in Linux) talks to the agent via HTTP on Linux and via SharedMem on Windows and Netware. The missing piece here is the 64-bit GroupWise engine. Since GroupWise agents are still 32-bit, and there is no 32-bit SNMP .so provided on a 64-bit platform, the SNMP functionality is lost in this case. Once we get 64-bit GroupWise agents, we will be able to provide SNMP support on a 64-bit Linux platform.
- Mac / Linux Client - We will not ship a Mac/Linux Client as part of the Ascot download. We have not made any changes to the Mac/Linux client for Ascot. You can continue to use the GroupWise 8 version of the Mac/Linux client against an Ascot POA. If you need to download this solution please look in the GroupWise 8 download section. You will not find this client in the Ascot download area.
To be clear with Mac support today, in Ascot and moving forward.
1. We have a Mac solution - the Mac/Linux Client. You will continue to have this exact solution going forward - whether you update your environment to Ascot or not.
2. You also have a Web solution that will continue to get 'better' with Ascot and is available on the Mac.
3. There will be TWO solutions for the Apple iPad - DataSync and in Ascot - Web templates.
We are doing a lot with Apple and will continue to expand and grow our support of this platform.
- Document Management - Document Management is still a solution we ship and support as part of GroupWise. This functionality will continue to be available in Ascot with the exception of the WebPublisher functionality communicated above. We openly admit we have not made any changes to the GroupWise DMS features or functionality for several releases of the product. We also did not make any significant changes to DMS in Ascot. The good thing is that software, or code, does not simply wear out. Code does not get tired or lose its usefulness as some may want you to believe. In fact, the long history of GroupWise, its code and its engineers, is what gives GroupWise its greatest strength.
Our strategy has been to provide document management, document collaboration and social context for our DMS customers through Novell Vibe. As Novell Vibe matures and gains the strengths GroupWise already enjoys, it will become our document, file, attachment and social solution. We will continue to integrate these products together and expect to accelerate that plan in 2012.
- 64-bit - We had announced and expected to deliver 64-bit ONLY agents in GroupWise Ascot. We then planned to deliver 64-bit agents as part of a tech preview about the same time Ascot shipped. Neither of these plans played out. We are still committed to 64-bit agents and we will deliver them as soon as possible. GroupWise Ascot will have only 32-bit agents that can run on both 32-bit AND 64-bit platforms. As GroupWise is 'disk bound', there are not a lot of perceivable advantages to a 64-bit solution. Nevertheless, we will be delivering 64-bit solutions soon and will consider 64-bit ONLY as part of Windermere. One of the challenges with this transition has been our ability to support SNMP on 64-bit Linux platforms.
Having a lot of platforms that your product runs on is a huge advantage, but it also carries a significant cost. The largest cost is in QA validation. In order to ensure our customers have a robust solution on every platform, every test case and test scenario must be run on every supported platform. Offering 32-bit and 64-bit options - although flexible and customer friendly - can also be cost prohibitive. It takes longer to deliver a solution, it is costly to support/maintain, and it is difficult to ensure consistency in all parts of the solution.
- Exchange and Notes Gateways - The Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes gateways are no longer supported by Novell. They were never delivered with the GroupWise product, but were always a separate download/deliverable. We have discontinued support for both of these technologies and we no longer have engineers working on these solutions.
We are, however, working on a new GroupWise/Exchange co-existence solution that will allow GroupWise and Exchange to exist side by side within the same enterprise. There will be a session at BrainShare in October that discusses this solution and we will have a station in the solutions lab. This new product will allow 3 principal integration points.
- Mail/Appointment interchange through SMTP.
- System Address Book interchange through IDM.
- Cross system Free/Busy interchange through a new middleware technology.
One more reason to come see us at Brainshare!
There are many technologies within GroupWise that will eventually go the way of VHS. As part of some upcoming releases (post Ascot), expect changes in many or all of these areas. MAPI and the stand alone Address Book, View Designer, ConsoleOne and eDirectory. Some of these technologies, we will simply remove from the product (MAPI, ConsoleOne), while others we will either transition to new solutions - ViewDesigner to XML, or simply add options like supporting Active Directory as well as eDirectory.
Disclaimer: As with everything else at Cool Solutions, this content is definitely not supported by Novell (so don't even think of calling Support if you try something and it blows up).
It was contributed by a community member and is published "as is." It seems to have worked for at least one person, and might work for you. But please be sure to test, test, test before you do anything drastic with it.