Novell Checks Vital Signs Of Collaboration Market With 'Pulse' Software

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While the first release of the product is slated for mid-year, attendees at this week's BrainShare conference are being given accounts to try out an early version of the collaboration software. BrainShare, Novell's conference for customers and partners is being held this week in Salt Lake City.

"Novell is defining the next generation of collaboration," said CEO Ron Hovsepian, in a keynote speech Monday.

The idea for Pulse came from talking to Novell customers, said Colleen O'Keefe, senior vice president and general manager of collaboration solutions and global services, who in an interview referred to the software as "one of the breakout products Novell decided to invest in in recent years."

Pulse will offer several collaboration capabilities including real-time editing and document sharing, social blogging features, user and group profiles, enterprise social messaging, identity-based security, and a "unified in-box" for handling messages, blog posts and group feeds from multiple systems.

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The first version of Pulse will be capable of connecting to e-mail clients such as Microsoft's Outlook. But the long-term vision is for Pulse, which uses the same federation protocol as the Google Wave collaboration application, will be able to serve as a common interface for content generated by other collaboration applications businesses already have in place, said Andy Fox, Novell vice president of engineering, who led the Pulse development project.

Novell already sells Groupwise, its messaging and collaboration software suite that has more than 30 million users, and Teamwise, a collaboration product similar to Microsoft's SharePoint. While those products won't disappear, Novell is making it clear that once Pulse hits the market it will be the company's flagship collaboration software.

While Pulse should appeal to businesses that already use Groupwise and other Novell products, the company is counting on Pulse to bring in new customers. "We see a lot of green-field opportunities," said John Dragoon, Novell senior vice president, chief marketing officer and channel chief.

The Pulse software will offer Novell channel partners an opportunity to provide implementation, consulting, training and custom development services around the product, said Adam Gray, CTO at Novacoast, a Santa Barbara-based Novell channel partner. He predicted that a large percentage of Novell's customer base would ultimately adopt Pulse.

Novell is expected to begin sending Pulse account access notices to BrainShare attendees within several weeks. Others who are interested in getting access when the preview is opened to a wider audience can register at

Pulse will be generally available by mid-year, although that hosted release won't have all the features ultimately planned for the software. Novell will be looking for feedback from customers before releasing a fully featured version of the product around the end of 2010 or in early 2011. An on-premise option will be available in 2011.