The State of the Groupware Space
February 19, 2003
New Players Emerge
Though Lotus and Microsoft still dominate, the smaller players are beginning to find a niche. Michael Katz, the president of RAE Internet, a distributor of Linux-based antivirus software, told ServerWatch that early adopters in the small and midsize business space are starting to move away from Exchange server to products such as VirtualTek's Joydesk and Bynari. Often these companies retain the Exchange client to make the transition easier for non-technical users accustomed to Microsoft products.
Software vendors generally associated with e-mail servers are entering the space more fully. Generally, the idea is that there will be a market for products "thinner" than Exchange and Domino that focus on the two key applications: e-mail and calendaring. "Right now, with Microsoft's forced migration path to the Titanium platform ... because of those costs, people are looking for other alternatives," Ali Liptrot, Stalker's director of sales and marketing said.
Stalker isn't alone. "The second-tier messaging companies are realizing the need to add collaboration to compete with Microsoft and Domino," Nienhuis says. "A good handful have announced plans to add more collaborative features to better compete."
This is just one of the trends that will emerge as the year progresses. Other key trends include:
The students may be more aptly served by lightweight servers supporting Web-mail-based e-mail, while the permanent employees would ideally have an entirely different and deeper system. This type of bifurcated environment is not uncommon.
To offer another example: a highly mobile sales forces may be predominantly e-mail users, while corporate administrators require the more full-featured products, and manufacturing floor workers need only portal-based Web mail accounts to check schedules, lunch menus, and exchange e-mail.
"People want to enable access to apps anywhere in the world without a client," says Patrick Dorsey, group manager for SunOne Communications Products for Sun. "This means the use of browser-based apps or portal-based computing."
Although implementing different systems within an enterprise is a trend, it is just starting to emerge. Novell is beginning to see it in the airline and hospital environments in addition to academia. "We see that as being really something that is probably in its nascent stage right now," said Jay Wood, GroupWise solutions marketing manager for Novell.
Robert Mahowald, an analyst with IDC, added that both IBM and Microsoft have re-entered the market for simplified e-mail and calendaring servers.
The following chart offers a glimpse into what some of the groupware vendors have planned for 2003. This is by no means an exhaustive list of what is going on in the space, and companies have been included based on the capabilities of their products, not by its main function (i.e., several mail servers with groupware features have been included).