ServersKeeping Pace in the Collaboration Space

Keeping Pace in the Collaboration Space

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GroupWise 6.5: Novell’s latest version of its venerable collaboration server product adds new features that enable it to keep up with other major players

The collaboration server space has seen much activity and transformation in the past year. We evaluate how well Novell’s latest release of GroupWise meets the challenge of keeping up with the leading players.

The newly released GroupWise 6.5 from Novell offers a host of new capabilities to both the server and client parts of the collaboration suite. The upgrade adds spam-blocking, Web portal features, support for Web servers other than Novell’s Enterprise Web server, and better security for both the client software and the Web client.

GroupWise 6.5 runs on NetWare 4.2, 5 or 6 (and 6.5), and Windows NT or 2000 Server. To evaluate GroupWise 6.5, we installed it on three operating systems — NetWare 6, Windows 2000 Server, and NetWare 6.5 Beta. All three installations worked, although the NetWare 6.5 Beta installation required help from Novell tech support. We then installed the WebAccess software, the Internet Agent, the WebPublisher server, and the Instant Messaging server.

The installation is very flexible, which is both good and bad. It’s good, in that the Web server can make functions available via HTTP, and that the directory, the JVM and even the host OS can be chosen from among many. It’s bad, in that the setup is necessarily complicated by having to choose where the Web server and other components are located, and it requires additional configuring that is unnecessary with single-platform collaboration suites.

Installation on a NetWare server requires the NetWare network client on the administrator’s system and the ConsoleOne administrative utility. GroupWise extensions are added to Console One on the administrator’s system but not on the server — GroupWise can’t be administered from ConsoleOne on the server. The NetWare network client is not required for GroupWise client installations, only for the ConsoleOne admin console. This is a primitive throwback of sorts, considering that the NetWare network client is no longer necessary for installing or administering NetWare servers.

To install WebAccess on NetWare 6.5, we had to create special drive mappings, and manually edit an XML file after the installation. (Bear in mind that NetWare 6.5 is not yet supported by GroupWise 6.5.) The installer also allows you to specify names for installation directories that will not work. For example, when we specified a nine-character name for a post office directory, the installation program created the directory and added the path to the directory to a configuration file. However, the server requires directory names in the path not have more than eight characters, so the software would not start for us.

During the GroupWise installation, WebAccess, WebPublisher, the Internet Agent, and Instant Messaging are not installed by default. Each requires a separate installation with a separate program, rather than checkboxes in the basic install.

Once the various add-on applications are installed, we found the total collaboration suite very capable. The Internet Agent enables access through any POP3 or IMAP client. It can download Internet mail from the ISP, supports blacklists for rejecting e-mail from known spammers, offers message accounting for tracking statistics on incoming and outgoing messages, and it can connect securely to other GroupWise servers over the Internet to provide secure communication between corporate groups without the need for special encryption.

The Web Access function requires a Web server and a JVM, and Novell has documented installations with Novell (NetScape) Enterprise Web Server, and Tomcat on NetWare 4.2, 5, or 6; Apache 2.0 and Tomcat on NetWare 6.5, Apache and Tomcat on Solaris, Netscape Enterprise Server 3.6 or higher, and Novell Servlet Gateway or Microsoft IIS 4.0 or higher and Novell Servlet Gateway on Windows NT with at least SP3, and IIS 5.0 or higher and Novell Servlet Gateway on Windows 2000.

The Novell Servlet Gateway is included with GroupWise and can be installed when installing WebAccess. The Tomcat servlet engine or another JSDK 2.0 (or higher) compatible JVM servlet engine must be installed before installing WebAccess. WebAccess doesn’t just provide access via browser. The Installation program creates a Palm Query Application to enable Palm OS device users to log into GroupWise.

WebPublisher provides a mechanism for making documents available through a corporate portal on the GroupWise server or on another Web server. WebPublisher can make documents available in their original formats, or render them into HTML for compatibility with other platforms or smaller devices such as PDAs or phones. Connections can be made via HTTP or SSL.

The GroupWise Monitor application monitors all GroupWise servers through a Web browser as well as through ConsoleOne. Thorough documentation is readily available.

Novell’s GroupWise 6.5 adds features that make it worth the upgrade for any company with a heterogeneous network. Enterprises will also appreciate the added security features, instant messaging support, and the added features in the client that make it easier for users to create collaborative groups without administrative support. Additional administrative utilities make it simpler for managers to support users who move from one group to another, who travel frequently, or who work at more than one workstation.

Pros: Runs on Windows and NetWare, and the Web server necessary for additional functionality can run on virtually any platform;
Flexible configuration options and support for various client platforms, including browsers on PCs, PDAs, and phones;
Additional new collaboration tools, such as file publishing, sharing, and versioning portals

Cons: Flexible setup adds considerable complexity to the installation process;
the installation application is not integrated — messaging, Internet, and portal add-ons require separate applications for install;
installer does not prohibit directory names that cause the software to fail

Reviewed by: Logan Harbaugh
Original Review Date: 9/15/2003
Original Review Version: 6.5

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