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Novell to unveil GroupWise

The company plans to debut the next version of its collaboration suite at its upcoming BrainShare developers conference in Salt Lake City.

Novell (NOVL) next week will debut the next version of its GroupWise collaboration suite, code-named Surge, at its BrainShare developers conference in Salt Lake City, company sources said today.

Although the company is tight-lipped about the new release, the groupware package has reportedly received an Internet face-lift.

Continuing where it left off with the latest release, Novell has boosted support for LDAP (lightweight directory access protocol) and is expected to also feature Web-based document management. In doing so, it may leverage some of the technology found in Novell's document management package SoftSolutions, such as the ability to set default security as either public or private, split libraries or move a batch of documents all at once, do document "echoing" to other hard drives, and save files to local hard drives or other locations.

The suite will also support S/MIME, a company source said. S/MIME is a security standard for electronic messaging.

S/MIME is considered a standard for interoperable secure email and is used by a number of vendors, including Microsoft, IBM, Netscape Communications, and VeriSign. It allows vendors to develop security features for electronic messaging products, so that a S/MIME message encrypted with one vendor's application can be decrypted on another company's application.

The upcoming suite, now in limited beta, will also feature a new Web Access client and Web publishing. The actual shipment date and pricing has not been released by the company.

"I can say that we've enhanced most of the [Internet] features," found in the previous version--GroupWise 5.2, a Novell spokesman said. "We've also focused a lot on ease of use."

Support for Internet-based communications protocols is becoming customary for the collaborative software industry, as businesses seek to use the Web to provide services to users. By implementing a protocol potpourri, companies hope to be able to prove to customers that their software can interoperate with other email and collaborative software.

Lotus Development, Microsoft, and Netscape are all investing heavily in adding protocol support to their groupware products.

In related news, BrainShare will also feature the rollout of a new version of the company's NetWare for small businesses for under $1,000. As earlier reported, the software bundle is targeted at small organizations that want email and Internet access.