Novell Bags SiteScape to Fend Off Microsoft, IBM

Novell grabs collaboration software maker SiteScape to keep customers coming back to GroupWise.

Perhaps to keep its GroupWise e-mail customers from flocking to rivals Microsoft and IBM, Novell has purchased SiteScape, which enables employees in distributed locations to better communicate and easily share content with social networking tools.

Financial terms of the Feb. 13 deal were not made public.

SiteScape makes a software package called SiteScape Forum ZX that integrates unified communications with collaboration tools, something customers are increasingly asking for given the proliferation of Web 2.0 tools.

SiteScape Forum ZX lets teams of users find each other to communicate via any combination of land-line, mobile or VOIP (voice over IP) phones and through instant message, chat, SMS (Short Message Service) or e-mail.

Once connected, users can share and revise documents and wikis and schedule and launch online meetings for team members involved in a discussion, wiki, blog or document work space. Users can also host, record and playback online conferences that include voice, screen share and chat.

Novell, of Waltham, Mass., and SiteScape, of Maynard, Mass., are already well acquainted with one another.

SiteScape launched ICEcore, essentially an open-source version of its collaboration software, in 2007. Concurrent with the launch, Novell introduced the Novell Teaming team work space application and Novell Teaming + Conferencing, which combines the work space application with real-time conferencing.

Novell will support Forum ZX through 2009 and migrate customers to the Teaming + Conferencing, which will compet with software from Microsoft, IBM and other challengers.

Indeed, the increasing need for collaboration suites that feature unified communications, coupled with the competitive landscape, triggered Novell's move to buy its partner, Forrester Research analyst Erica Driver told eWEEK.

Messaging, team collaboration, real-time collaboration and communications, and social computing tools have evolved from separate, insulated technologies into a complete collaboration platform, which Novell couldn't really lay claim to, Driver said.

Without SiteScape, Novell had a limited portfolio compared to rival team collaboration offerings, such as Microsoft Office Live Workspace and IBM's Lotus Quickr. Moreover, Google Feb. 4 came to market with Apps Team Edition, its own team collaboration offering.

"This is something Novell needed in order to retain its GroupWise customer base," Driver said. "Today, when an enterprise IT organization is trying to make a decision about its messaging platform-e.g., Do we upgrade GroupWise? Do we migrate to an alternative such as IBM or Microsoft?-it is nearly always made in the broader context of an enterprise collaboration platform."