Contract Watch: GroupWise's Final Shot

By Joseph C. Panettieri  |  Posted 2003-12-16 Email Print this article Print

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

Long before Harry Connick Jr. played Grace's 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 Novell's hired entertainment. My wife's eyes were locked on Connick the entire evening (don't worry, I'm 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 world's No. 2 groupware platform.

Seven years later, Connick is still going strong, Marengi works for Dell Inc., and GroupWise is struggling to remain relevant. Novell's 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, Novell's 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.

When Novell owned WordPerfect—an old standby in many law offices—GroupWise enjoyed strong momentum among attorneys. But the appeal of a GroupWise-WordPerfect combo faded during WordPerfect's slide and ultimate sale to Corel.

Novell is quick to mention several boutique legal firms that tried Exchange and opted for GroupWise. But the masses have reached a verdict, and they've voted for Exchange or Notes.

Deal 2 – European Stampede Continues: If you're looking to corral partners in Europe, now's the time to make your move. Over the past two weeks, I've written about pending and potential mergers across the big pond. Now, all that talk is turning into action.

For example, Acxiom Corp. of Little Rock, Ark., has acquired Claritas Europe, a marketing research firm in London. The $40 million deal will allow Acxiom to help U.S.-based companies improve their marketing effectiveness in Europe, says CEO Charles D. Morgan. The deal comes one week after Cognizant Technology Solutions of Teaneck, N.J., acquired Infopulse, an IT services firm in The Netherlands.

Looking ahead, Computer Sciences Corp. and Cap Gemini Ernst & Young continue to comb Europe for IT services acquisitions.

Deal 3 -- Titan of Education: Even if you work for the government, there's always time to go back to school. Just ask Titan Corp., a leading government solutions provider that recently won a $70 million IT contract with Florida's Okaloosa County School District.

Under terms of the 10-year deal, Titan will provide IT management and outsourcing services to the entire district, which encompasses 43 sites and includes approximately 34,000 students, faculty and administrative personnel. Titan expects to deliver desktop and laptop computers, network servers, and supporting services, including help desk support, remote desktop management, asset management, and local and wide area network support.

As I pointed out in last week's column, the education vertical is a great revenue source in any economic climate because schools—particularly private universities—forever tout their technical know-how in the race to recruit students.

Deal 4 – Learn the HP Way: Agilysys Inc. and Avnet Hall-Mark are both getting cozier with Hewlett-Packard Co. Agilysys is now a certified HP OpenView partner in the U.S., and Avnet is polishing a vertical market program for HP solutions providers.

OpenView remains one of the few powerful entries in HP's otherwise hit-and-miss software arsenal. Many managed service providers, for instance, are using OpenView to remotely monitor and troubleshoot customer networks.

Meanwhile, Avnet Hall-Mark is working closely with HP solutions providers on a lead generation campaign—including direct mail and telemarketing—that targets health care, manufacturing and financial customers.

I continue to hear mixed-to-positive feedback about HP's PartnerOne channel strategy. Many HP solutions providers—including Sequel Data Systems in Texas—had solid showings in 2003 with even higher hopes for 2004.

About Contract Watch: Each week, this column examines customer engagements that are stirring the channel, and the solutions providers behind them. Our goal is to strip away the hype and tell you what's really selling—and what isn't—in today's IT marketplace. Send your tips to my e-mail address below.

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.


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