Cool Solutions

Replacement for GroupWise Mobile Server, and more


May 19, 2009 3:45 pm





A lot of you have been waiting for news about our replacement for GroupWise Mobile Server. We have spoken about it in various blog posts prior to this one, however, I can now talk about it in a little more detail.

As you are all already aware, the core protocol is going to be ActiveSync, which means that any device with an ActiveSync client will be able to talk natively to GroupWise. This includes iPhone, Windows Mobile and all of the E and N Series Nokia devices. There are also ActiveSync clients for many of the other mobile OSs out there, though not necessarily shipped on the device. These include PalmOS and Android. We fully anticipate that Palm Pre will also eventually ship with an ActiveSync client in order to remain relevant in the handheld device market. We anticpate release towards the end of this year, though GMS continues to be supported by Novell in the interim, and we will give customers a migration window to make the cut over.

From the server side we are going to be shipping a new server component, which is yet to be given an official name (we name products just prior to shipping). This component, which I am going to call the integration suite for now, is essentially a synchronization server with various application connectors. This server will be responsible for taking data from a source, and pushing it to various targets, though the source for one sync, can be the target for another sync (so, bi-directional, multi source synchronization). One of those connectors is a GroupWise connector, and another one will be ActiveSync. We already have a number of other application connectors being worked on right now, and plan to deliver those through this year and into next. Right we we are targeting a connector for Novell Teaming, to sync personal calendar and task information, though there are also a lot of work going on to unify the GroupWise/Teaming/Conferencing/GWIM/iFolder/OpenOffice experience a lot more – which will happen outside of the integration suite. We also have Sharepoint, SugarCRM and connectors expected this year, followed by SAP and EMC Documentum connectors. We have already been speaking to partners who want to write their own connectors to this integration suite.

Part of the plan for this is to not make it tied to GroupWise, but to also allow other Novell technologies to benefit from the integration suite so, for example, a customer that only has Teaming should be able to sync application data between it and 3rd party applications. From a licensing perspective customers will receive the server, the GroupWise connector and the Teaming Connector for free. The ActiveSync connector will, like GMS today, be available to anyone with current maintenance. Many of the other connectors will be paid add ons, bought from and supported by Novell.

As this is a server component it doesn’t matter what client is being used for the integrations to work; as long as the data exists in the mailbox (for the GW Connector) it can be grabbed and pushed through all of the other connectors without any user intervention. This is very powerful in the CRM world, as it allows managers to get a good overview of the correspondence that is happening with all of their customers, and see where those customers are in the sales funnel, for example.

The integration server will run on SLES and Windows, and can be deployed in various configurations – either single server, or in a failover, loadbalanced configuration. I have attached some architecture diagrams to this blog so you can see. There will also be an SDK freely available to anyone, which I anticipate that we will release sometime later this summer for public consumption.

We are looking for customers who are running some of the applications that I mentioned who would like to be involved in the requirements definition of the SAP and Documentum connectors, as well as customers who would be active beta sites for any of the other connectors. Let us know.

If you have additional application integration needs for Line of Business applications also let us know what those are, so that we can effectively prioritize future connectors.

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  1. By:FlyingGuy

    It is difficult to tell from your marketing speak so i ask point blank:

    Will the Linux version be to market first?

    Will the sync for GroupWise be available on day one for the Linux platform?

    I have about a zillion other questions but I would REALLY and I mean REALLY REALLY like those answered, straight up, no BS and right now.

    • By:aevans

      The questions you ask were not mentioned because they are non issues – yes, Linux and Windows support will be shipped at the same time, and yes GW will be supported straight away – otherwise there would be very little point delivering this in the first place, non?

  2. By:geoffc

    How will this compare to how Riva’s integration approach works?

    • By:aevans

      The concepts are similar, but it is not based on Riva. Riva is an excellent product though, and they have a lot of additional value-add modules

  3. By:pvanlone

    I finally have something to give to customers! I really appreciate it.

    Are you anticipating that the various server components will be modular, with a choice to run them all on one server, or split them across several?


    • By:aevans

      Yes, the components are modular. You will be able to run multiple instances of the sync engine on different machines, and the connectors can be remote from the engine. In the most extreme case, for example, you can install a connector on each workstation – though we have not tested that to any extent at this point

  4. By:jamestaylor

    Alex –
    Am I reading this correctly in that the new mobile sync will not be available until nearly 2010? That’s going to be really long time to wait for iPhone and Android support. Will there be private/public betas well before that time?

    You syncarch diagram is a little confusing to me. Can you clarify how these components connect to GW and to the phones? Also, I am assuming (hoping) these are services and not separate servers you are showing.?

    • By:aevans

      Yes, there will be both private and public betas in the interim. The GroupWise connector uses SOAP to access the POA and syncs info to the sync engine server. The ActiveSync connector will take the data from the sync server cache and push it to connected devices, much like GMS today. The diagrams show 2 things, servers and services. The servers show that this is scalable across multiple physical servers, but if necessary everything can exist on a single machine

  5. By:srbeckett

    Wow, it sounds like and IDM engine for messaging and calendaring. Great idea! Kudos to the team for coming up with it and developing it.

  6. By:noneal

    Alex, thanks for the update my friend! Please keep up the good work…

    Norm O’Neal
    Novell Users Group of Indiana (NUGI)
    Team NTEG

  7. By:mikedderuki

    Any chance that with your recent announcement about “broad collaboration” with VMware and that whole XEN thing, Novell will release these components running on top of SLES JeOS as a prebuilt virtual appliance? Pretty please?!

    • By:aevans

      Thanks for the udpate. This is definitely something that we can consider. Coincidentally we are just finishing up some work creating a GroupWise image for the VMWare vCloud

  8. By:ijr

    Hi, you say you ‘also have Sharepoint, SugarCRM and connectors expected this year’ do you have anymore details on the sharepoint connector you can share with us. This would be of great benefit to my company and would also help us significantly in resisting a move to exchange – I would be very interested in becoming an active beta site for this connector in particular.


    • By:aevans

      In essence all of the integrations will be to make GroupWise data commonly available in all of the other applications, and vice versa. I hope to be able to share some screenshots with you in the next couple of months, so please watch this space.
      We will be opening up the beta application site soon, so watch for that

  9. By:tmstone835

    I really appreciate your openness regarding the GroupWise product line. I feel more connected (pun intended) to Novell since they started this method of information sharing. I feel that you folks really provide a service with these updates.

    Regarding the GroupWise direction, it sounds as though you are paying attention to the market and your customers. The Activesync integration along with all of the other changes are huge steps forward. The only advice that I have is Don’t Stop! Keep pushing for new ideas and improvements in order to keep the momentum going.

    • By:aevans

      Thanks for the feedback. We certainly don’t plan on stopping any time soon. I just watched some milestone demos for our Conferencing product today, and it’s integrations with GroupWise Instant Messenger – very cool stuff, and there is a lot more to come

  10. By:jtreadwell

    This is very helpfull. I have been waiting to upgrade to GW8, because I didn’t want to upgrade twice when the ActiveSync support came out. I thought it may be integrated into GW itself, and not an external service. So I can go to GW8 sooner than I expected.

    I see you mentioned that this can be spanned across multiple “physical” servers. Did you mean to exclude the possibility ov virtual servers? This will be supported on a virtual platform correct?

    • By:aevans

      The plan is that virtual servers will work too, typically VMWare and XEN. And make sure that you upgrade to GroupWise 8 right now – download the hotpatch and do it this weekend 🙂 Should not take too long (from the Novell Education List):
      Just to let y’all know, I just upgraded our production GW installation from 7.0.3 HP1 to GW8 HP1 in less than 2 hours (less than 5 minutes of downtime for the end users.) It went _flawlessly_ as far as I can tell at this point. ~8,000 users, 15 POs, 4 domains on 7 servers.

      PS – finally having Notify in Linux is amazing :o)

  11. By:bluebeagle

    Thanks for the update. Please keep them coming.

    I’m a bit concerned to see that this is going to have such a large footprint. One reader characterized it as an “IDM engine for messaging and calendaring” which was my read as well.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for added power and flexibility. I just don’t want to have to spend hours upon hours studying, installing, and configuring a new product simply to enable a mobile device to function as a client.

    If it’s smartly implemented this could be a nice addition, but in my experience power and simplicity don’t often walk hand-in-hand.

  12. By:jmasgalas

    So how can we get involved in beta testing the new sync suite?

  13. By:janpop

    Hi Alex, thank you for this update, looks flexible moving forward, very promising!

    GroupWise and Teaming provide 90% of the functionality companies would typically need for running general internal support departments, i.e. messaging, tasklists, scheduling, knowledge base, forums, workflows, mobile extension. Yet companies still tend to look outside implementing silo helpdesk tools with typically overlapping functionality and very little integration points.

    Are you also looking at integrating with any helpdesk call logging systems or would you rather like to see your existing collaboration products replacing such systems.

    One or the other, we’ll be happy to support such development!

  14. By:mpierce_tamu

    Well, it’s been over a month now since you last updated us on the new Activesync solution. Any more news? There has to be at this point. We are about to hit July, and with a promised delivery date of November 1st, 2009, how good is this product going to be if there isn’t enough beta test sites out there or end user beta downloads to try ourselves? You really have only 4 months until it’s delivery time. So, who can give us some more updated info on this new product? Everyone of my customers seem to be going iPhone, including myself before too long, and I’d like to keep them on my solution, and not go elsewhere to find one. Thanks for more info…..

  15. By:Z135225


    will there be any solution based on this model to connect a Groupwise and an Exchange mailsystem >=2007 as a replacement for the gateways or are you planning to develop anything that synchronizes address books and makes it possible to busy search a calendar in such an environment?

    Regards, Klaus

  16. By:dcollings

    Is the previously stated release date for the ActiveSync solution still November 1, 2009? Any more news or forthcoming betas?

  17. By:jpickerell

    Just checking to see if you anything else you could share?