Novell reaches for utopia in GroupWise

Novell's next release of GroupWise, code-named Utopia, will take on more of a modular approach, allowing users to choose only the components they need, and will incorporate more Extensible Markup Language (XML) functionality, according to Novell sources.

Due in the latter half of 2000, Utopia presents a more customisable development platform for the GroupWise groupware and messaging system. The upgrade is also expected to contain Novell's home-grown public key infrastructure security software and an instant-messaging client.

Utopia will use XML tags to describe server functions and features, exposing server functionality via XML meta data, according to James Kobielus, an analyst at The Burton Group, in Alexandria, Va. The product will also contain server-side application-development and object APIs to customise GroupWise.

"[GroupWise] is really far back in the pack in terms of [not having] very strong development capabilities, and development tools and APIs at the server level," Kobielus said. "Utopia will provide a much stronger, more sophisticated set of object APIs for the server."

Terry Ulanch, GroupWise product marketing manager at Novell, said that the Utopia battle plan is based on giving customers the ability to create a messaging solution with only the pieces they want.

"Today, GroupWise has a fairly robust client-side API set," Ulanch said. "But we're now opening up more on the back end. The Utopia plan, particularly a technology referred to as XIS [XML Integration Services], gives us some more of this open-end/back-end hook to the system."

XIS works via the GroupWise engine to watch messaging events that occur in the platform and gives developers a tool to connect to Utopia, Ulanch said.

Additionally, a cobranded Novell and America Online AOL Instant Messaging (AIM) client is expected to be integrated with Utopia, Burton's Kobelius said.

Novell also plans to integrate Novell Directory Services more tightly with Utopia.

Utopia is the only major update currently slated for GroupWise, Novell officials said. The company recently released Enhancement Pack for GroupWise 5.5 with several added featuresBefore UtopiaGroupWise 5.5 Enhancement Pack includes the following.

* Integration of Internet messaging standards and Lightweight Directory Access Protocol on the client* HTML editing and Internet directory access in the WebAccess client* Browser interface for monitoring* Support for Novell Single Sign-on and NetWare Cluster Services

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