Novell's messaging and collaboration platform hasn't grabbed the headlines lately, but GroupWise could be Novell's best-kept secret. GroupWise 5.5, which is expected to ship in the second half of 1998, is shaping up to be a solid product. What I liked best in this release were benefits to the server and administrator. For example, Novell has made the process of connecting your GroupWise system to the Internet a little bit easier.
GroupWise 5.5 will also support Novell's "native Internet addressing". This means GroupWise maintains user account names as typical SMTP mail addresses, as opposed to the product's previous proprietary format.
This is a big improvement to the former version's application of SMTP address translation rules.
GroupWise 5.5 provides some default addressing schemes from which administrators can choose and a more integrated approach to managing the way in which addressing conventions are applied throughout the mail system.
There are still a few features that I would like to see Novell put into the product. For example, GroupWise will still not let administrators use NDS groups as GroupWise distribution lists. I also had some problems sending e-mail to GroupWise distribution lists via the Internet using SMTP mail addresses.
Novell does not support Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) for encrypted access to the GroupWise message store via IMAP4, or to the GroupWise address book via the product's Lightweight Directory Access Protocol provider. SSL is supported only for Web access to e-mail, as you gain this capability through your Web server.
For some time GroupWise has sported built-in document-management capabilities, which Novell gained through a licensing agreement with SoftSolutions.
In fact, document management is an area in which Novell provides more value in its base product than either Domino or Exchange, which require add-ons.
GroupWise 5.5 builds on the document-management capabilities found in the previous version. Among these are the full-text indexing of documents and Dynamic References, which automatically attaches a referenced document to messages sent to users on external e-mail systems.
Novell has also bundled GroupWise Web Publisher (formerly code-named "the Jefferson Project"), which enables users to search, and browse GroupWise document stores with a typical Web browser.
This feature is unique because the GroupWise Web Publisher agent renders documents (which can be stored in Microsoft Word, Excel, or a number of other supported formats) to HTML on the fly.
But GroupWise 5.5 doesn't offer the capability to check in or check out a document from a Web browser, as does Lotus' Domino.Doc. I was pleased that the Web Publisher agent can run on NetWare. I was able to run the Web Publisher agent on a NetWare 4.11 server using Novell's Novonyx Enterprise Server as my Web server. (The previous version that I tested was supported only on Windows NT-based Web servers.) Web Publisher can be accessed through a Unix-based Web server; however, the translation agent itself is limited to NetWare and Windows platforms.
Overall, the beta of GroupWise 5.5 prom-ises some nice enhancements to the current release; if Novell added a few more features, it would be an outstanding product and the company's secret would be exposed. vGroupWise 5.5, betaThis update to Novell's messaging and collaboration platform adds a number of positive enhancements but doesn't offer a major change in overall functionality.
Pros: Solid reliable system; includes built-in document management features; improved Internet support on both client and server; flexible server agents for unattended maintenanceCons: Novell Directory Service groups not supported for e-mail distribution lists; problems with SMTP addressing of nested GroupWise distribution lists; no support for Secure Sockets LayerPlatforms: Server: NetWare 3.x, 4.x, and 5.x, Windows NT Server 4.0 and later; Sun Solaris. Requires at least one NetWare 4.x server (or other platform running NDS)Price: Free download from the webNovell:
Tel (02) 9925 3000 fax (02) 9922 2113