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Cardiff University's Success with Formativ and GroupWise

Novell Cool Solutions: Feature
By Advansys

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Posted: 28 Sep 2005


Institutions of learning, whether they are school districts, universities, or some other organization, face specific problems when it comes to IT management. These organizations are usually large in terms of users, but also intricate with many department and user-specific needs. Moreover, they operate on a very limited budget, which makes solving these problems difficult. Cardiff University, in the United Kingdom, fully understands the dilemma faced by institutions of learning. Cardiff is an organization which uses GroupWise with 13,000 users spread across nearly 30 departments and schools. Stephen Kennedy, Senior IT Engineer at Cardiff, found that providing for the broad range of user and department needs was not easy.


Cardiff University's IT Helpdesk was receiving an overwhelming number of inquiries for expanding the capabilities of GroupWise. These requests to extend GroupWise did not have a central theme and represented a wide variety of needs. Kennedy understood that these requests for increased functionality in the GroupWise client were important for increasing efficiency. Cardiff needed a solution that could extend the GroupWise client and fulfill the requests fielded by his department. Finding an adequate solution posed three major issues for Cardiff.

First, the solution had to offer flexibility to GroupWise. The requests from Cardiff's users were specific to each department and each user's processes and protocol. Cardiff needed a solution that could take the GroupWise client and extend it so that it offered the functionality needed by the user or department.

The next requirement for Cardiff's solution was that it be managed from a central onsite location. Kennedy wanted to be able to determine who had access to and when a certain function could be used. Moreover, he wanted to be able to administer solutions to whole departments and individuals without having to register and install the solution on individual workstations.

Lastly, the solution had to be affordable. Since Cardiff was working on limited resources, they needed a solution that could provide for their needs, but at a cost that could be managed within their budget. Specifically, with such a large user base, Kennedy wanted a solution that was affordable per user.

Problem Snapshot

  • Easily extend GroupWise functionality
  • Customize the GroupWise client for individuals or groups
  • Centrally manage solutions without touching the desktop
  • Affordable


There were three options that Cardiff explored. The first option used an outsourced third party company to write programming code that would provide functionality in GroupWise.

The second option was for Kennedy to write his own C3POs (Custom Third Party Objects). C3POs are programmed GroupWise client add-ins which modify its functionality. This option involved learning complex GroupWise APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) and writing the required functions into the GroupWise client.

Lastly, Cardiff had the option of purchasing Formativ from Advansys, a GroupWise client extender.

Why Not Others

The outsourced third party solution explored by Cardiff did not fit their requirements for a solution. While the outsourced solution could provide flexibility to GroupWise, it could not fulfill Cardiff's needs in the other two areas. The outsourced solution could not be managed from a central location. Additionally, the cost to outsource was significantly more expensive than the other two options.

The second option of writing C3POs in-house would not work either. Again, while C3POs would add flexibility to the GroupWise client, once the C3POs were written they could not be managed easily from a central location. Moreover, the C3PO option would require significant expertise and resources to write and deploy the solutions. When compared to Formativ, the time needed to create and deploy C3POs was excessive.

Why Formativ

Formativ is the solution for Cardiff University. Formativ has the unique ability to extend GroupWise in unlimited directions. Formativ allows Stephen Kennedy to use small applet solutions that can be deployed to users and departments to solve their unique needs. The applet solutions can be created in house using the rapid development tools and the applet recorder. Out of the box applets come ready to deploy with Formativ and can be purchased in bundle packages. Cardiff can also download applets from Novell's Cool Solutions that have been posted by Advansys and other Formativ users. Formativ allows Cardiff to add unlimited functionality to GroupWise in a quick and easy manner.

Using Novell's eDirectory, Formativ allows Stephen Kennedy to centrally manage the Formativ applets. After creating, downloading, or choosing an applet solution, Kennedy gives access to all or a few users inside eDirectory. With just a few clicks of his mouse, he deploys the applet to those GroupWise users without having to install or register anything on the workstation. This Formativ functionality gives him total control from a central location.

Lastly, Formativ is extremely affordable. The software package is purchased with a one time fee which gives users full access to the Formativ functions. Annual upgrade protection is optional. The fee is broken down by number of users so that larger user bases receive quantity discounts. Moreover, using the Formativ rapid development tools makes creating solutions effortless, making the time investment negligible. For academic institutions, the cost of Formativ per user can be as low as $2.00 per workstation.


Cardiff purchased Formativ Runtime licenses so that users could run applets inside GroupWise. Cardiff purchased Formativ Studio licenses so that Stephen Kennedy and his associates could create custom applets and manage Formativ centrally. Using ZENworks, Kennedy quickly deployed the Formativ software to all 13,000 users. The deployment was done without interrupting the normal activities of users inside GroupWise. Moreover, Formativ applets were immediately distributed using eDirectory.

Stephen Kennedy was soon able to use Formativ to solve the specific issues requested by users. By using the rapid development tools and applet recorder, Kennedy was able to create solutions for all of the following:

  • Internet Chevrons
  • Multiple Signatures
  • Mail Merge
  • Save GroupWise Attachment
  • Leave Booking Procedure

Current Attitudes and Changes

Stephen Kennedy states, "Ultimately, Formativ has decreased the "Can we do??" phone calls to the helpdesk and added value to our GroupWise. I am pleased that we can offer custom applets so easily upon our user's request." This accurately portrays the reaction of all users at Cardiff University. The users are grateful to be able to use the power of GroupWise and Formativ to perform their work quickly and efficiently. Management is grateful as well. Not only has Formativ increased the speed and effectiveness of work, it has also increased the value of GroupWise. They feel that their GroupWise investment has matured from the deployment of Formativ.

Moving Forward

Stephen Kennedy and Cardiff University look forward to advancing their knowledge and deployment of Formativ. They are actively pursuing new applet solutions that will help make work easier and more enjoyable for their users as well as increasing the value of GroupWise.

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