Novell Inc. and Netline Internet Service GmbH are expanding their current relationship in a move that will see Novell sell, maintain and support Netlines Open-Xchange Server.
Novell will also now integrate Netlines Open-Xchange Server into its development, partnership and sales processes. Netlines groupware, which is based on the Netline Java Application Server, is already the core engine of Novell´s SuSE Linux Openexchange Server.
As part of the non-exclusive agreement, Novell will also now contribute proprietary SuSE Linux Openexchange code to the open-source Open-Xchange community, as well as guarantee the same indemnification as offered for Novells own products, while Netline will be fully integrated into Novells DeveloperNet program, Frank Hoberg, the CEO of Netline, told eWEEK.
This will allow Netline to integrate Open-Xchange with existing Novell technology like Evolution, the Novell Linux Desktop and ZENworks. Novell will also provide global sales, training, maintenance and first- and second-level support for Open-Xchange, with Netline supplying third-level support.
Open-Xchange is a collaboration platform that integrates open-source and proprietary servers and clients. Accessible through a common Web browser, Open-Xchange allows users to share e-mail, calendar, tasks, threaded discussions and documents originating from both proprietary and open-source systems.
The Web-based interface of Open-Xchange runs on all major browsers, letting employees use its services regardless of the client operating system; employees can also use it with any computer connected to the Internet and any common platform, including Windows, Linux, Unix, Mac OS, and Palm OS.
The Open-Xchange Server brand will also replace the current SuSE Linux Openexchange Server brand when the first commercial product is released next year, Hoberg said.
Asked if the deal with Netline has changed Novells current groupware strategy at all, spokesman Kevan Barney said: “Not really. Weve had both GroupWise and Openexchange Server under the same roof for almost a year now. Nothings changing at the moment. We have no changes to talk about today.”
Asked how this move fits into Novells plan to transition GroupWise customers to Linux, Barney said those customers face the same choices as NetWare customers, “and everything were doing is to make sure they can choose whats best for them. Thats why we have the traditional GroupWise that runs on NetWare and Windows, and also GroupWise for Linux. So this all fits into our plan to offer customers choice,” he said.
Netline, which is evaluating moving its headquarters from Olpe, Germany, to Boston sometime in the next two years, will be establishing a local subsidiary housing its alliance management, sales and marketing teams in Boston in the next few months.
At the annual LinuxWorld conference and expo in San Francisco this August, Netline announced that it was open-sourcing Open-Xchange Server under the GNU General Public License.
The open-source version of Open-Xchange is available for free download here and features most of the attributes of the commercial product. It runs on the most widely used Linux operating systems—Novells SuSE Linux, Red Hat, Red Flag and Debian—but does not include support and maintenance, third-party applications, or any connectors.
Netline released the Open-Xchange code at the end of August, and Hoberg said there has been more than 50,000 downloads of the code and some 1,500 developers and testers signing up to support the project.
Netlines business strategy is to have an open-source unsupported product and a commercial, supported and maintained version, and Hoberg said he expects to release the commercial Open-Xchange Server product in March 2005.
While the core code will be the same for both versions, Hoberg said Netline will add some administrative front ends to make the product easy for administrators to install and manage. “We are also going to provide a guarantee that we will maintain this version for five years, including upgrades, patches and a future-looking product road map,” he said.
Customers will also get a subscription service, renewed annually, and will be able to use Netlines Outlook and Palm connectors for free. Hoberg declined to give specific pricing for the product, but said the goal is to have it cost at least 50 percent less than the Microsoft Exchange solution.
Netline is also free to pursue similar deals with other vendors and is actively discussing this with interested companies in Asia, South America and the United States, Hoberg said.