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When Attachmate announced late last month that it had agreed to buy Novell for $2.2 billion, many said it marked the end of an era. Indeed, in many ways it does: Novell was there at the beginning of the information technology reseller channel, it has been one of Microsoft's fiercest competitors, and it has been and continues to be a leader in client/server computing.
But Attachmate's takeover of Novell also happens at the beginning of another era in IT -- an era in which independent software vendors are racing to keep up with the demands of cross-platform, enterprise collaboration. As organizations are relying less on e-mail to communicate, they are also relying more on collaboration solutions. That's great -- except that the demands of enterprise collaboration, as well as use patterns, continue to change dramatically. And so vendors are racing to ensure their collaboration solutions continue to keep up with it all.
In the past year, we've seen major advances in Microsoft's approach to collaboration both with SharePoint 2010 as well as major improvements to its Office 2010 and Office Live solutions. Other players, including IBM Lotus and Google, continue to -- or at least try to -- weave new pieces of functionality into their line card.
And Novell -- almost at the very time the Attachmate announcement was made -- launched a beta version of a hosted or on-premise collaboration solution called Vibe, which shows significant promise. In this issue of CRNtech, we are offering this snapshot of collaboration solutions. It's only a snapshot, really, because the landscape, functionality and features continue to come from developers at breakneck pace.
Here is a look, solution by solution, at what may be the industry's top collaboration solutions and how they may fit right now into the needs of small, midsize or large enterprises: