Cool Solutions

City of LA Decision to move to Google Apps


October 29, 2009 9:58 am





I realize that many who read my blog are our own GroupWise customers. You may have heard about the City of L.A.’s close-vote decision to make a change.

Through years of neglect of the system, ignoring best practices and not making the best uses of the inherent scalability of GroupWise the City justified a move to a system that is still more expensive to their tax payers, offers less functionality, and increases risk and downtime.

We are laser focused on continuing to provide a world-class e-mail and calendaring platform with the Web 2.0 innovations, end-user requested features and enterprise-class readiness you demand. Thank you to all who speak up for the value of GroupWise.

You can read our take on that here.

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  1. By:jmarton

    I agree that the move by the City of Los Angeles is rather shortsighted and does not make good technology sense. However, the Novell PR blog entry has not helped Novell’s case and in fact has created quite a stir online–all of which is negative. The move by the City created enough bad PR for Novell on its own without Novell creating any more bad PR.

    Alex I assume it’s just a matter of time before the backlash picks up on your entry as well.


    I’m sure this isn’t what Novell intended with this blog posting but alas this is the result in today’s Web 2.0 world.

    Joe Marton

  2. By:FlyingGuy

    Before I get going I think it only fair that anyone reading what is to follow read
    my post on Slashdot and then read on…

    I am now going to call out the whole force behind GroupWise. This disaster occurred for some very specific reasons and in no particular order I present what I believe those reasons are:

    • Lack of a coherent, fast, lightweight management interface. – Development
    • Lack of a coherent sales strategy. Is it GroupWise, is it Teaming and Conferencing just what on earth is Novell’s office information strategy and best of class product? .- Sales and Marketing
    • Client software that is clearly not cross platform in feature and function. – Development
    • Lack of a coherent Developer Program, is it Client API, WEB API, Server API? Is it Java, is it C, is it .Net? – Development

    That list while small in number is HUGE in scope, I understand that. I also understand that the things that I call out are by no means easy to handle, but we have to start someplace and an accounting of this disaster must be taken.

    When the sales force lets an account as big as the City of Los Angeles slip through their fingers something has to change. Clearly technical sales personnel were not visiting their client, clearly not listening to their client and clearly not getting the point driven home that this HUGE client was not happy for technical reasons.

    If they were doing all of this then clearly Development was not listening, was not sending the best developers out to listen very very carefully to this client. To hear the message that the client MUST have been communicating at more then one level.

    The most senior and most knowledgeable tech support people in the entire company should have had at least a weekly, if not daily task to call the lead of the City of Los Angeles tech support department and asked them if there was anything they could do for them, and question they could answer any anything they could do for them?

    This was a flagship client. How many more of those can we afford to lose? How many more organizations can we afford to get kicked out of? Novell has managed to get NetWare kicked out of pretty much everywhere that mattered, how long before GroupWise is a Wikipedia article of what used to be?

    As to your post Alex, it is an excuse nothing more nothing less. You don’t blame the customer ever even if the customer is wrong!!!! You circle the wagons, figure out what you need to do, even if that is getting on a plane and flying out there, and figuring out exactly what needs to be done to get this client back!

    Let this serve as notice to Novell that it needs to get on the stick, start visiting existing large corporate and institutional clients. Do whatever it takes to get them on the latest and best software Novell has to offer, have a clear and focused strategy to show them that by sticking with Novell they are going to get the BEST OF CLASS in this space, show them how weak GMail is by every measure that matters.


    How many times have I said in these forums that this is a war? Do you need any more proof? Do you believe me now?

    • By:blntskul

      Novell is no different than most technology companies over the last couple of years in this regard. Microsoft laid off employees too. Not very insightful.

  3. By:hmartin

    It’s not only L.A. Customers are dumping Novell all over the world. Since they outsourced everything to India and decided to drop their best product (NetWare 6.5), it has been a series of total disasters. Customers have tried OES 2 and you just have to look on the Forums to see it’s just full of bugs and the patches usually do far more harm than good.
    If you see all the contract jobs advertised for upgrading from Novell to Microsoft which have been going on for years because Novell just don’t care any more, it’s not surprising they are laying off staff and closing offices.
    Once upon a time, it was financially beneficial for customers to buy Novell. Today, Novell are more expensive than Microsoft and a lot of their resellers have dumped them too.
    They are also losing their so-called Partners because Novell Corporate cherry pick all the best (Corporate) jobs and leave the scraps to their “Partners”. I was loyal to Novell since its inception in 1984 and today, I want nothing else to do with them. I’ve moved to Microsoft, at least their patches don’t trash everything and they don’t need to screw the people who try to sell their product or send them leads which are up to a year out of date, because they are too small for Novell to care about.
    Finally once Novell Corporate have sold the product to their hand-picked Corporate clients they drop them like a red-hot coal and leave the customer’s unqualified staff to try to sort out the mess.

  4. By:navatala

    GroupWise has always been criticised by customers for not being up to date in terms of the user interface, added to that Novell has never been able to get GroupWise to sync, reliably, with PDAs, and now mobil devices, I mean how hard can this be guys……

    Anyone administering GroupWise must be thinking, how come we are still using ConsoleOne when everyone else, including Bordermanager, anyone still using this product? have moved to a web interface…. Sounds like a lack of leadership issue here.

    The Linux client is a joke, so is linux on the desktop for that matter, Webaccess is the slowest web application I’ve ever had the displeasure to use. Oh maybe I haven’t followed Novell’s “best practice” Neither have they, next time you run into a Novell sales rep, if you can find one, ask them the show you their WebAccess, time it……

    Is anyone surprised when large accounts move away from GroupWise, especially to Google, pity Novell let Erik go, one more blunder to add to the options pile,

    Remember the slogan , we’re not getting rid of NetWare, we’re adding Linux…well I think they are probably working on something similar for GroupWise.

    We’re not getting rid of GroupWise we’re adding teaming…. yeah but can I use it on my iPhone….well no, can I sync to my Nokia…..not yet…..

    Time Novell stopped making excuses and started getting software that users want, out on the shelves, although personally I believe it is to late.

    • By:blntskul

      What is it about the GroupWise interface that’s so wrong? The new home panels and home page features are really nice, in my opinion. It’s superior to Outlook in that respect. What do you want – accordian style menus or something? I don’t understand the interface argument since version 7, but to each his own, I suppose. There’s value in updating the look and adding features while maintaining consistency to avoid retraining people with every release. Microsoft changes things for the sake of change – not because it makes things better (enter Office 2007). However, since this seems to be a sticking point for some, maybe Novell could make the GroupWise client skinnable, and the very first skin developed should be an Outlook skin. Maybe that’ll satisfy the vocal minority. I bet if some of the system admins out there would help their users take advantage of panels, this wouldn’t be such a big issue.

      About ConsoleOne administration – so what? Is administering your enterprise collaboration system such a minute task to you that having a copy of Console One is that big of a burden? I agree that it would be best to have everything unified in one administration console, like iManager, but it’s just not that big of a deal. I mean – one of the best things about GroupWise, and many Novell products, is their ease and efficiency of management. They’ll get there, but until they do, I’d prefer that they focus on more important things.

      I agree that the Linux client is not good enough, but how good is the Linux client for Exchange from Microsoft? Oh yeah, there’s not one.

      GroupWise WebAccess is not slow. If you’re having performance problems with it, you need to look into fixing whatever is wrong. Ours is blazing fast.

      Regarding mobile sync, there’s a separate blog about it, and I hate to get too deep into it here, but you should really pay attention before you make random utterances. Novell was the first to offer free mobile sync, and they did it with the most popular sync product on the market at the time. Your beloved Nokia, that can’t be sync’d to, is responsible for the collapse of that relationship because they dropped the product with short notice. In less than a year, Novell built a better solution based on ActiveSync from the ground up, which is soon to be released. If you want to be upset at someone over your precious iPhone not syncing, talk to Apple. Microsoft didn’t do anything to make the iPhone sync with Exchange – Apple did that work – and they did it only for Exchange and ActiveSync. Apple makes good products, but they’re not all about integrating with others, with one exception. Why don’t you hold them responsible for once? How about not buying that iPhone because it locks you into one service provider, on a crappy network, for a high cost, and doesn’t integrate with your colloboration platform?

  5. By:hmartin

    Don’t talk to me about high cost, time you went out and got a Novell and MS price list from an Authorised Reseller IF an it’s now a big IF you can find one and you will be in for a VERY big wake up call.

    When you start comparing prices, let’s compare a VERY polished Windows 2008 Server and AD with a crappy, buggy, semi-supported Linux Server which doesn’t boot when you patch the kernel. The REALLY crappy desktop Windows 7/ XP / Vista client the connection problems, the poor interface with VMware, the joke they call Xen and so on and on and on.

    Then start comparing the latest Exchange, and in fact all the other MS products with the Novell equivalent. When you remember that MS started SEVEN full years behind Novell in the server market and EIGHT full years behind in Directory Services. MS have got better and better and Novell have just sunk into oblivion.

    The Linux offering is really S L O W, full of bugs, badly supported, documentation that is out of date, unreadable and doesn’t work, I could go on for hours. Apache Virtual Hosts only works for ONE host, without completely ignoring their interface and using a “standard” apache hosts file. YaST is just a fat pain in the nether regions and things only work if you ignore it and do everything by hand.

    The bottom line is that it’s all you people that keep making excuses for this rubbish, like the feeble one when a patch trashes a server “it must have got corrupted during download”. Funny I’ve NEVER had an MS or Red Hat or Ubuntu (or in fact ANYTHING else) that magically got corrupted during download.

    Let’s face it, Novell lost all interest in their product a long time ago when they farmed the lot out to India and now we can just sit back and wait for the inevitable. NOVELL ARE FINISHED, It’s just a matter of time. I’ll be surprised if they last until 2012 when they officially dump Netware 6.5, but I’ll take bets that they certainly won’t survive after that.

    I think the best thing Novell can do is sell off NetWare, NDS, GroupWise and SuSE Linux and just retain IDM, because we heard it officially from a top Novell manager that “we (Novell) are only interested in Corporate Clients and IDM”. I think in a head to head with Sun, Sun’s IDM beats them hands down any day and it’s a pity that Corporate clients are no longer interested in Novell.

    • By:blntskul

      You’re a bit off the mark. The licensing cost for Novell and Microsoft products are fairly similar these days, but you’re not thinking about the additional servers, maintenance, downtime and supervision that come with Microsoft products. I’m sure you’ll disagree, but you’ll still be wrong.

      Microsoft has never made a better product than any of their leading competitors – not until they drove the competition out of business and had years to catch up. Their business practices are what put them where they are. They win by attrition and unfair competition. If you think that AD is better than eDirectory, Windows is better than Suse, SMS is better than ZenWorks, Exchange is better than GroupWise – all without caveat or condition – it just proves your ignorance. Microsoft’s products are finally OK for the most part, if you want to buy into their entire product stack. I don’t mind working with Microsoft products – and I do. But your view of Microsoft versus Novell is uneducated at best.

      I wonder if there’s any chance that you just don’t know what you’re doing. Anyone that has this much animosity and such a high rate of failure with any product – Novell or Microsoft – probably needs a new line of work.

      • By:jmarton

        One comment people will often make when comparing Microsoft to Novell is the need for “additional servers.” True, that is often needed, but that doesn’t necessarily mean additional hardware. In this day of virtualization a new server is as easy as creating a new virtual machine, which means no added cost for additional Windows servers other than server licenses. Heck, depending upon what flavor of Windows you have, you may not even need additional Windows Server licenses.

        Also, comparing Windows to OES is difficult to do but let’s face it the quality of OES is nowhere even close to the quality of NetWare. Hands-down I’d say NetWare is “better” than Windows, but there’s no way to make that same argument comparing OES to Windows. OES2 SP1 is better than OES2 is better than OES1, and presumably OES2 SP2 will continue that tradition of improvement, but still there are far too many issues making OES2 more of a kludge.

        Lastly, comparing *any* management product to ZCM probably isn’t a fair comparison as just about *any* management product is going to be better than ZCM. System Center Configuration Manager included. Novell threw out a tried-and-true management platform which was easy to use, integrated with eDirectory, and had won many awards to come up with some new solution that was Directory agnostic. The end result is that ZDM customers are looking elsewhere for management products and it’s doubtful many AD-only shops are purchasing ZCM. Novell hasn’t been bitten by this much yet as many people have not moved to Vista so there wasn’t a need to move beyond ZDM, but now with the release of Windows 7 I would not be surprised to see ZDM customers migrating away from Novell for workstation management en masse.


      • By:blntskul

        You’re right about virtualization, and that mitigates the cost of the dedicated hardware server for each Windows box, but you still have to build virtual capacity, and it takes more capacity to run 100 servers than to run 50. Besides, the hardware cost is only one factor. You still have another installed server – whether guest or host – to maintain, patch, troubleshoot, etc. Windows server sprawl is still a problem, regardless of virtualization. If you believe any of those Gartner studies on total cost of ownership, it’s a real concern.

        As far as Netware being superior to OES – for file and print, sure. Netware is still the best file and print server out there. For most other workloads, Linux, and by extension OES, is a better choice. But regardless, Netware lost the war, and people need to get past it. Novell couldn’t cling to the once dominant OS when it was clear that the market demanded something else. It’s going to take time before OES performs like Netware for file and print, but it will get there. People are more than patient with Microsoft products. And it’s clear that OES is improving, not getting worse, or sinking into some abyss as others seem to suggest. GroupWise is a great product that’s always improving, and is very competitive in just about every way. Third party integrations are fewer, but here we are at a market share discussion again.

        The change with ZCM was a necessary one in the big picture. It’s unfortunate that some customers are frustrated with it as they made that major change in architecture. We were not early adopters of that version because we knew this. We also avoided Windows Vista because it didn’t make sense. Hey – that reminds me that Microsoft doesn’t hit them all out of the park. In fact, their average is pretty low. What would Steve Jobs do?