Novell’s alternative to Sharepoint to be out in July

Published: February 20th, 2007

Novell will use its Brainshare conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, next month to demonstrate a team workspace and real-time collaboration solution that will be positioned as an alternative to Microsoft Sharepoint portal.

The new product will be Linux-based and clientless and is expected to be offering with Novell’s workgroup line. Product shipping is targeted for early July.

The company entered into an OEM partnership with SiteScape, Inc. of Maynard, Mass., to provide the offering.

SiteScape started in 1995 and came into prominence after Compaq Computer Corp. sold its AltaVista search engine to them in 1998. Since then, the company has developing distributed team collaboration solutions for business and government.

According to Ross Chevalier, CTO/CIO of Novell Canada of Markham, Ont., the company wants to get into this space because of the demand from customers and had to either buy the technology, build it or find a partner.

“By deciding to partner with SiteScape we engage with a developer who has similar workgroup products and build one together that integrates with Novel technology,” he said.

Chevalier disputes that these products are not original or late to market.

“There are other competitors who were first, but I do not think it is a me-too product. The solutions from other vendors require significant infrastructure to support it. They require more physical servers with higher licensing costs. While we address the same problems theirs is a slow and expensive way to do it and this is an alternative to consider,” Chevalier said.

As for being late to market, Chevalier said it is all about what a customer is willing to pay for on-going support. Since Novell’s offering will not have a bloated client, he claims it will be less expensive to run than Sharepoint.

“This is about teamwork. It has social networking capability and it is integrated with Groupwise and Open Enterprise Server. This gives people contacts to get the job done with no fat client required and it can run on any OS Windows, Mac or Linux,” he said.

Chevalier calls these two products channel enablers because the solution can be part of infrastructure and client centre work, which leads to lucrative professional services opportunities for the VAR.

“This is not a desktop to desktop management (effort). A partner can implement services without visiting every single desktop for patch management. That is the real value add because it focuses on the business rather than putting a red hat on and putting on fires,” he said.

Margins on these products can reach a high of 15 per cent on a brand new customer opportunity for Novell Platinum partners.

While nothing has been announced, Chevalier said the product are intended to work with other unified communications products from networking vendors such as Cisco System and Mitel Networks.

“Cisco is smart about standard and so long as they build to standards there can be integration,” he added.