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The State of the Groupware Space Page 2

By Carl Weinschenk (Send Email)
Posted Feb 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:

  • Since e-mail is the single dominant application, anything that impacts e-mail has a profound effect on groupware and collaboration. The ongoing struggle against viruses and the explosion of spam will have a big impact on how servers will be configured and protected. For example, servers must be able to accommodate rapidly changing third-party antispam software.
  • The usage patterns of groupware and collaboration are changing in three important ways. 1) Users will be more mobile, 2) real-time audio and video will become more prevalent, and 3) instant messaging will continue to grow as a corporate tool. Corporate IM may, in fact, prove the big story in 2003 because its deployment demands significant infrastructure adjustments. "IM ... at a consumer, teenage level is kind of ephemeral," said David Marshak, a senior vice president at the Patricia Seybold Group. "But doing it in a business context means it has to be stored. You have to prove you made the offer, gave this advice to this client, etc. It has a big impact on storage, and on search and retrieval capabilities."
  • There is an increasing demarcation between users served by an enterprise that need full-featured collaborative applications and those that need only e-mail and calendaring. This is best illustrated by the example of a college campus that has a mix of permanent staff and faculty -- some of whom are heavily involved in research that cries out for collaboration -- and students who are typically there for four years.

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).

Company Product Target Audience New Groupware and Collaboration Features When Introduced Future Planned Features
Critical Path Communications ISPs Calendar with group scheduling, Internet file Fall 2002 Mobility, presence platform server, IM
Cybozu Share360 Enterprises with fewer than 100 employees Several, including PocketPC sync 11/02 IMAP, increased admin security
IBM Lotus Notes 6.5 Large enterprises Checklist view, personal header, antispam 10/02 Integration at server, policy-based admin
Kerio MailServer Small to midsize businesses Shared folders, shared and private calendars Folders early 2002; Address books 12/02 Public address books
Microsoft Exchange 2000 All size enterprises Support for Active Directory, IIS integration 2000 Titanium, due midyear
Novell GroupWise 6.5 All size enterprises Checklist view, color-coded categorization, spam control Ongoing Transition from 6 to 6.5 -- ongoing
Oracle Collaboration Suite Midsize to large enterprises E-mail, calendaring, voicemail, fax, Web conferencing, desktop management, search 9/02 Sharing, chat by July
Sendmail Workforce Mail Fortune 2000 enterprises Intelligent Inbox 12/02 None at this time
SmartMax MailMax 5 Small and midsize enterprises Shareable Calendar 7/02 None

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