NSW Health to dump Novell GroupWise


blog Incredible though it seems in this age of cloud-based email (hello, Google Apps) and complex, feature-rich enterprise collaboration platforms like Microsoft Exchange, there are still large Australian organisations using legacy suites like Novell GroupWise.

Computerworld reports (click here for the full article) that NSW Health is finally preparing to migrate an unspecified amount of users off the Novell dinosaur and into a glorious new Exchange future, implementing a Quest-based archiving system to provide a half-way house for data stored in the legacy system:

“The new archiving solution will address “pressing GroupWise storage capacity concerns” and allow the historical GroupWise e-mail to be centrally stored and accessed without a dependency on GroupWise itself.”

To be honest, whenever we realise there’s still a GroupWise implementation out there, we kind of feel like we’ve discovered an untouched ancient archeological dig. Who knows what treasures can be found buried there, amongst the musty trappings of the past covered in dust? What glories await? What ghosts of the past?

Image credit: John Evans, royalty free


      • Admittedly, I haven’t touched GW since version six, so I can’t really speak for the later versions – but for what it is, it’s not a bad product.

        Novell picked it up when they purchased WordPerfect all those years ago, and it did okay for them – but its time has long passed.

  1. I last used GroupWise when I worked at Qld Health in 2003, and it felt like an ancient relic even then. It’s hard to believe anyone would still be putting up with it in 2011, let alone a major organisation with thousands of users!

  2. Quest definitely makes it easy. I had good experiences with Quest’s tools for Lotus Notes to Exchange migrations, anyway.

  3. Surprise surprise – NSW Health isn’t the only one using it. NSW Department of Finance & Services also uses it and has NOT announced plans to replace it.

  4. Sheesh you guys really are blinkered aren’t you. I’m speaking from the position of being a consultant in the messaging space with strong experience of both GroupWise and Exchange for many years and I can tell you that GroupWise has been a strongly developed platform for many years, including all recent ones. It easily matches, if not possibly outgunning, other email platforms (including Exchange) in terms of functionality. The biggest difficulties recently have been inegartion with other systems (although if you dig deeper taht usually proves to be a myth in most scenarios) and getting hold of experienced administrators (although that tends to be more of a problem due to peoples blinkered ideas – as ably illustrated by yourselves – as any admin worth his salt can quickly get to grips with a new system).

    So if you have a fully functioning GroupWise system in place you sure need a good motivation to go to the large expense of replacing it.

    For many organisations that motivation just came recently with the demise of Novell via the acquisition by Attachmate – and hence increased unceratinty on the future of Novell solutions such as GroupWise.

    So absolutely no reason for surprise at organisations out there happily using GroupWise, but equally no surprise that some of them are looking to change now.

    And by teh way.. no organisation shoudl ever underestimate the complexity of an email migration project. I’ve carried out some GroupWise to Exchange migrations and as with all email migrations nothing is simple. You can ceratinly make life easier for yourself by taking less traditional approaches such as using archiving tools to mitigate the massive storage growth you see when moving to Exchange, but don’t underestimate the cost and complexity.

  5. Why exactly is GroupWise a “legacy” collaboration suite? If GroupWise is considered legacy, then you might as well place the same label on both Exchange and Notes. They’ve all been around the block and then some. Plus, what exactly is so “glorious” about Outlook/Exchange? All that’s being done is trading one set of problems with another. No solution is perfect.

    I also find it interesting that this new archiving solution will address “pressing GroupWise storage capacity concerns.” Exactly what concerns are those? If anything, Exchange 2010 imposes new storage capacity concerns given that Microsoft has removed Single Instance Storage in EX2010. They say the compression routines added to EX2010 make up for it, but GW continues to use both compression and SIS to minimize its storage footprint. Therefore it just makes absolutely no sense to say EX2010 combined with some archiving solution somehow eases storage concerns versus GroupWise. And chances are Exchange + the archiving solution are more costly than GroupWise on its own.

    It is quite clear that this article is simply spreading more FUD about GroupWise and is based on very little fact, at least no facts from current versions of GroupWise. About the only fact is the statement that NSW Health is migrating away from GroupWise. How would it look for me to make comments about Exchange being legacy and quaint when writing an article about an organization moving away from Exchange, all the while making it clear I am basing my writing off of Exchange 5.5 or Exchange 2000? Those versions of Exchange, now more than 10+ years old, would definitely appear quaint when compared to today’s technologies. That doesn’t mean Exchange itself is that way.

    Nor is GroupWise.

  6. I agree with Joe. This is a joke, right? GroupWise is anything but legacy. Granted, if they’re running on NetWare, which is close to being out of support, then they should migrate the GroupWise System to a newer platform, such as SLES 11 or even an MS Platform, but GroupWise is no more legacy than Exchange is. I just performed a 5500 user migration of GroupWise from NetWare to SLES11 and it was also a health care organization. It went very well and GroupWise is very stable and performs well. Honestly, it was very stable on the NetWare platform, with some of the post offices having an uptime of almost a year. Try to get that kind of stability in a Microsoft environment. Patches alone won’t allow that to happen in an Exchange environment.

    The guys who posted at the top of these comments are tripping hard if they don’t realize how many GroupWise installs are out there and how many of them have no desire to leave GroupWise. They like stability and performance. They like the fact that they’re not exposed to security issues like they see all the Exchange environments having. If GroupWise isn’t performing well in any environment, it’s not a problem with GroupWise. It’s typically a problem of running it on outdated hardware or it’s misconfigured. I’ve never worked on a GroupWise System that was configured properly that didn’t perform well and meet the needs of the customer.

    This article could have been written by Microsoft itself. You guys should call LAPD and see how they like GroupWise. Since I reconfigured it 10 years ago, they are very reluctant to go anywhere else. They were even forced to migrate to Google mail, but pulled out because of the lack of features and security. They love GroupWise and don’t plan to leave it any time soon.

    Someone needs to get their facts straight and their heads screwed on more carefully. GroupWise is anything but legacy.

  7. Legacy = well developed and reliable.

    Glorious always cost you a lot of money. Most of the time, not needed other than to justify ones position.

  8. Renai,

    You obviously have no clue what GroupWise is about. You seem to have a clue what Exchange is about. I think you know nothing of both.

    You may not hear from GroupWise as much as from Exchange but that is partly cause of the many fixes, bugs, security issues Microsoft sends to its users every month. Microsoft makes more noise, and folks like you focus on the noise and forget to think of the message the meaning of that noise.

    That probably gives you a safe feeling, an idea that no other company than Microsoft cares that much for its users. That for instance the more Exchange administrators there are, the more Exchange must be the best collaboration software.

    Noise, noise, noise. I call it boring. So is your article. It does not show any current up to date information about GroupWise. I think you lost sight of it when Microsoft launched Windows 95 and later when Microsoft Office became the standard for a lot of companies. And that you never looked at it since then or showed some interest in it.

    GroupWise changed the client interface with the release of GW 6.5 and the release of the Linux client the next year. GW 7 and 8 have panels, for showing any kind of information you relate to or from your email data or any CRM software, by using the connectors and intelligent third party solutions like those from Omni Technology.

    Did you know that GroupWise supports, runs on Linux, Open Enterprise Server (previously NetWare) and Windows servers?
    That GroupWise supports more different kids of mobile devices than Exchange, not just the ones that run on Windows Mobile.
    That GroupWise needs less administrators therefor a lot cheaper in staff and administration costs.
    That GroupWise supports SAN, NAS and other storage systems.
    That GroupWise has built in encryption, so no message can be read or intercepted.
    That GroupWise can run on the hardware it used before, therefor no expensive migration paths, more memory for Outlook, more processors, more INTEL CORE, HP mass storage, and most of all, more fuzz saying GroupWise is no good.

    Which is based on old old thoughts and not on facts, or interest in GroupWise as a product. Just admit it, you are biased. I say you have no clue.

    Basically your article is about you being amazed an organization uses GroupWise.

    Get your feet on the ground and face it. There are. More than you know. And they like GroupWise.

    Take a break,

    And stop writing such nonsense.


  9. Where are all these GroupWise fanboys coming from? And more importantly, why do they exist?

    It’s funny how despite this outpouring of praise I’ve yet to hear an end-user say anything positive about GroupWise. Maybe the sysadmins love it but that’s a different matter.

    • I’m a Novell guy from way back. I got my CNA in 1994, and my CNE in 1996. There’s nothing “wrong” with GroupWise – people are just looking for a one stop shop in their corporate environments.

      With Exchange/Outlook, you’ve got a single integrated suite of software from server all the way through to the desktop, and that’s cheaper and easier to manage than having to pluck the best bits from here and there.

      Plucking the best bits from here and there isn’t a bad thing, but you increase your support costs, and in this day and age companies are whittling their IT support budgets as narrowly as possible. Less systems equals less hassles, and less training costs.

      GroupWise has been caught in the middle here somewhat. For the record, I think it’s a fantastic product – (even though I’ve not touched the last few versions) – but people are going to roll Exchange out these days before they roll GroupWise out.

      GroupWise done right is a marvellous thing, but with no clear strategy for native voice/unified communications at the moment – (we looked at this for a customer with GroupWise about 12 months ago) – it’s getting left behind.

      And that’s sad – because it was always a great product.

      • One little bone to pick. You say Outlook/Exchange is an integrated suite from the desktop to the server, but is it? When you buy Exchange, do you get the client software? No. Most people have it because they’ve purchased Office… and that’s the key. To use Exchange, you then have to *purchase* the client as well (besides purchasing the Client Access Licenses, server licenses, etc).

        UC is unfortunately a weakness, though some integration is out there. With ShoreTel you get a bit of native integration with GW out of the box. There are also third-party solutions, such as GWTalk from SKyPRO which add VoIP calling features to GW which are compatible with any SIP PBX.

        Speaking of integrations, Novell is working diligently with Data Synchronizer so that GW can integrate with various products. They already have integration with SharePoint, SugarCRM, salesforce.com, and others. Granted that’s been there with Outlook/Exchange (though again not necessarily out of the box) for quite some time, but Novell is working on closing that gap.

  10. @Jeremy .. Fanboys? More like serious SysAdmins .. How many end users say they like ‘Exchange’? The majority just want their email to be available and secure. And if anything, they ask for ‘Outlook’ on the desktop, because they are used to it at home. End users generally don’t have a clue about what is running on the back end. And I can tell you, I’ve had many GW users who have moved to other MS-centric organisations, and ‘wished’ they still had Groupwise, missing the features that Outlook/Exchange don’t have.
    In a previous organisation I worked, they migrated away from GW to Exchange about 3 years ago. Last I heard, the expectation of staff was that ‘it’s Monday, Email system will be down again’.

    All in all, a less than amateur article, and sounding like it was written by one of those MS fanboys you mentioned ..

    • Fanboys? More like serious SysAdmins

      Just as I suspected.

      How many end users say they like ‘Exchange’? The majority just want their email to be available and secure. And if anything, they ask for ‘Outlook’ on the desktop

      The functionality they like is provided by Exchange. Whether or not they know what it’s called is irrelevant.

      In a previous organisation I worked, they migrated away from GW to Exchange about 3 years ago. Last I heard, the expectation of staff was that ‘it’s Monday, Email system will be down again’.

      So there are poorly managed Exchange implementations out there? Hardly surprising news. I can draw on a much larger sample of anecdotes though – in the dozen or so organisations I’ve worked for which had Exchange/Outlook, email outages were extremely rare. But this has nothing to do with the user experience which is what I was talking about, and which “serious sysadmins” usually don’t care about.

    • Hmm… this from the person who calls Exchange “glorious.”

      Yay, we have an article written by an Exchange fanboi… hilarious!

      • lol hilarious — usually I’m accused of being a Gmail fanboi, by people who love Exchange. I guess this shows that I am truly independent!

        • An Exchange fanboi to the Domino/GroupWise folk, a Gmail fanboi to the Exchange folk, what are you to the GMail folk? To come full circle, you should be a GroupWise fanboi to the GMail folk…

          • Well, Google itself basically thinks that I am a part-asshole for slamming it constantly on issues such as not launching services in Australia, and the lack of an Australian datacentre, but part-saint as they know I use and like Google Apps/Gmail and search out customers for stories.

            I don’t think Gmail users themselves (typically Gen Y) really care — I would say to most Gmail users, the email platform wars are largely irrelevant.

  11. oh dear, i bet Renai never expected a small little lazy blog entry would trigger so much furore. so you put Lenovo offside last month, GroupWise this month… i wonder who’s next in the firing line… ;)

  12. For all you Groupwise (and Notes!!) fanboys: A legacy platform is any platform that isn’t growing its marketshare.

    COBOL & FORTRAN & S/360 are all actively supported and developed. They are still legacy. So is Groupwise.

    • It’s been a while since I last saw statistics, maybe a year or so, but at that time GroupWise’s market share was increasing. In addition, there are more GroupWise partners today than there have been in years.

      On the flip side, I don’t see how Exchange’s market share can be increasing given the number of people migrating from Exchange to cloud solution such as Google Apps or to other free/low cost solutions such as Zimbra or Open Exchange.

      So given your definition, Exchange is a legacy platform, whereas GroupWise is not.

      That’s for all you Exchange fanboys.

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