Contract Watch: GroupWises Final Shot

The Linux movement will make or break Novell's groupware platform.

Long before Harry Connick Jr. played Graces husband on "Will & Grace," he hawked software for Novell Inc.

Well, sort of. During the 1996 launch event for GroupWise 5 in Manhattan, Connick was Novells hired entertainment. My wifes eyes were locked on Connick the entire evening (dont worry, Im not the jealous type), but Novell President Joe Marengi stole the show when he predicted GroupWise would overtake Exchange Server or Lotus Notes to become the worlds No. 2 groupware platform.

Seven years later, Connick is still going strong, Marengi works for Dell Inc., and GroupWise is struggling to remain relevant. Novells once-promising groupware platform, one of the first to offer directory integration and universal inbox capabilities, now holds a scant 2 to 9 percent market share, far behind Notes and Exchange, according to a mix of market data from FerrisResearch, Gartner Inc. and other industry watchers.

Sure, Novells open-source strategy could make GroupWise a contender in the Linux market. And plenty of solutions providers still back GroupWise. But time is short, particularly in the legal market, where major firms like Duane Morris LLP and Wragge & Co LLP have dumped GroupWise for Exchange Server.

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Joseph C. Panettieri ( has covered Silicon Valley since 1992. He is editorial director of the New York Institute of Technology and founder of JCP Media Inc.