Novell's Linux strategy causes customers concern

Novell's Linux strategy causes customers concern

Summary: Users of the networking company's Netware and GroupWise products are concerned about future support

Novell's ambitious strategy for Linux has led some customers to worry that the networking company may withdraw support for some of its legacy applications.

Speaking at Novell's Linux Big Picture Event on Thursday in London, the company told customers more about Open Enterprise Server (OES), an upcoming product that will combine its NetWare operating system with SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 9.

In the keynote speech at the event, Brian Green, Novell European director of Linux solutions said that OES will allow NetWare customers to take advantage of the applications that are available for Linux and will allow SuSE Linux customers to use NetWare services on Linux.

"We appreciate that SuSE Linux provides a stable secure platform for business applications," said Green. "What we've done with Novell Open Enterprise Server is take network services, decouple them from the kernel and make them available on Linux. We've taken all the services you've got used to with NetWare -- file system, printing engine -- and made them available on Linux."

OES is scheduled for release in mid February, according to a Novell spokesman.

But some NetWare customers were concerned that through embracing Linux and open source applications, it may soon withdraw support for proprietary applications that are duplicated in its open source stack. In particular, some customers highlighted the risk to GroupWise, Novell's email and collaboration tool, which offers similar functionality to the open source alternatives SuSE Linux Openexchange Server and Evolution.

James Cunnington, the IS support manager at the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, said that he is concerned that GroupWise is likely to be one of the first applications that Novell will end support for.

"We use GroupWise as an email system," said Cunnington. "But it now has a limited life so it is earlier on our list of things to change."

He said he was also concerned about the future of NetWare. "NetWare has had a shrinking market share for such a long time that we have to be concerned," said Cunnington.

Sebastien Springbett, the head of ICT services at the arbitration organisation ACAS, said that although he believes Novell may end support for Groupwise, it is likely to make the migration as easy as possible. He said NetWare's days are likely to be numbered, although over a longer time scale.

"In 20 years time I very much doubt NetWare will still exist," said Springbett. "At some time version 6 will stop being supported and Novell will provide an upgrade path to Linux."

Representatives from the Big Lottery Fund, which distributes money from the National Lottery, agreed that both Groupwise and NetWare were likely to be on their way out now that its network services are being made available on Linux. "There's no point in them continuing to develop NetWare," said one support engineer.

Steve Brown, the European vice president of Novell, said that it would continue providing support for GroupWise in the immediate future. "Certainly in the short term," said Brown. He said GroupWise has advantages over Evolution such as scheduling, encryption and more formal support.

Topic: Apps

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  • Websites like and certainly show that there is user interest in having NetWare and GroupWise continuing their existence, and not just short term.

    Picking out a few nay-sayers may be good for circulation, but not as close to reality as you would have your readers believe.
  • Very misleading article. Novell is fully committed to GroupWise on Linux and already is on the second release of GW on Linux, it is not on it's way out by a long shot.
  • Mr. S. Brown should know that Groupwise is a groupware system, including a server backend and a client. Evolution is just a _CLIENT_ . His comments about Groupwise being better than Evolution don't make any sense.
  • I just got back from the event and I can definately say that this article is completely misleading.
  • I do not understand how any one who was at the event could write such rubbish. In this day and age solution is the key to any IT infrastructure and Novell is certainly the most complete end-to-end committed developer out there today. The notion of Netware or Groupwise disappearing anytime soon is complete nonsense. Netware is completely untouchable/unbeatable in any multi-apps or indeed file & print environment eg. Governments, Universities, Colleges, Schools, and many small businesses around the world. No other organization out there are more committed to making sure that their customers get much more for their money than Novell.
  • "I just got back from the event and I can definately say that this article is completely misleading."

    Ha ha ha Thats hilariuos! Basically this article says what everyone has been saying...FOR A LONG TIME - The King Novell is not wearing any clothes.
  • Looks like very selective listening on the author's part . . . or perhaps the author has a paid agenda to push. Either way, poor reporting. The services in OES will be available on the Linux kernel as well as the NetWare kernel. Novell is not abandoning NetWare, they are enhancing the NetWare services and letting the customer choose whether to put them on the NetWare kernel or the Linux kernel. As far as GroupWise is concerned, it already runs on NetWare, Linux, or Windows. Again, giving the customer choice. It is in no way in danger of being discontinued.
  • well at least King Novell has got balls not like wet whimp queere Gates got no balls got no clothes got no brains else windBloZe would be dead and gone now .

  • I hope that they do end support for NetWare, the same way that Microsoft has ended support for Windows NT 4.0. Since there is a viable open-source alternative to NetWare (and Windows, and Solaris, etc.), and since Novell's putting these same services on GNU/Linux, there's little, if any, excuse for "NetWare shops" to stick with NetWare.

    When you base your business's infrastructure on having to depend on a vendor's largess, and do not insist on vendor-neutral solutions, then you're putting yourself at exactly the risk that the "NetWare shops" are describing right now. With something that's open source, like GNU/Linux, you can get your updates from or anywhere else. On the groupware side, Openexchange Server and Evolution, now being fully open source, it's the same thing.

    Consider basing your IT infrastructure on something that *anybody* is legally permitted to modify, not just one vendor. This is a lot of why I converted from Windows NT to GNU/Linux several years ago.
  • Sebastien Springbett is certainly base on his own analysis in his country market, over here, asia include Singapore have great support for Groupwise and migration to linux will provide greater consideration for enterprise production and government sector use in few years by lower TCO and better support...
  • Does Novell really think that an organization that has used GroupWise as their messaging platform for years, will even consider staying on Novell products after being 'shafted' by Novell's apparent 'Attention Deficit' when it comes to GroupWise?
    Open Exchange is a joke - if I want to pay MS for Outlook - I'll buy the real thing - not a cheap knock-off, and there's no way in H--l I'll keep my users on NDS - in case Novell loses attention there too in the future.
    FOr a company that has made a career of shooting themselves in the foot - they're clearly aiming higher this time - for the head...
    Maybe it's time to rename 'Suse' -to 'Loser'
    (Even installing the newly released Novell Linux Desktop fails due to missing packages - and they want me to bet my business on that?)
    Although we aren't the largest company in the world - we're abandoning this sinking ship, and will do our best to convince others to do the same.
    Customer loyalty is a function of vendor loyalty - and Novell is the Benedict Arnold of software
  • My concern revolves around the market share of GroupWise. If Novell's share continues to drop, how much of their resources will they continue to throw at this product for version updates and suppport / maintenance? We are an organization of 5000 desktops and we cannot afford to run an unsupported product.