Blogger: Bill Pray
The bid by Elliott for Novell has lead to speculation on what may happen should the buyout be successful. Blogs from Drue Reeves (Novell Going Private?) and Richard Jones (Elliott/Novell: Implications on SUSE) have highlighted their observations. Having been a former Novell employee and product manager for GroupWise, I want to take the opportunity to add my observations on what might happen to Novell’s communications and collaboration technologies should the buyout occur.
GroupWise has been a solid, mature, feature rich, enterprise solution for many years. However, over the past few years GroupWise has seen a decline in market share. GroupWise has trailed the leading vendors (IBM and Microsoft) in development of functionality. Novell has increasingly relied on partnerships to provide new functionality such as mobile access, business application integration, and team workspaces (eventually acquiring the technology). Given Novell’s investment in and the current state of GroupWise, it is likely that it would be sold off to a partner. GWAVA or Messaging Architects are the leading candidates. These partners have the capability to take the technology and run with it as a vertically focused alternative to the bigger vendors.
Adobe is one of those vendors. Adobe continues to push into the collaboration market and might be interested in Novell’s communication and collaboration technologies and the loyal customer base. Adobe has a solid web conferencing solution and is diving into the software-as-a-service productivity suite market, but does not have e-mail yet. GroupWise has had success in the state/local government and health care verticals – which are also strong verticals for Adobe.
Novell’s solutions are weak in their support for the SaaS delivery model (except maybe Pulse when it is available), but Rackspace might also be interested in expanding their solution set with Novell’s collaboration technologies and taking them to a SaaS or managed service delivery model.
In sum, despite being viewed as an “also ran” in the communications and collaboration market by some, I believe Elliott is correct in its bet that there is significant value in the various Novell technologies and they will be of interest to several other vendors.