SALT LAKE CITY — A Canadian independent software vendor for Novell Inc. said while there’s an increase in new GroupWise customers using Linux, many Canadian companies are still hesitant about rolling Linux out across their organization. 

Gwava was one of hundreds of Novell PartnerNet program members attending this year’s BrainShare conference here. Others included IBM Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., Computer Associates and Dell Inc.

The Montreal-based firm offers e-mail surveillance, anti-spam, anti-virus and content control security solutions that run on Linux, NetWare and Windows platforms. The ISV recently released the second version of its reporting and monitoring tool for Novell GroupWise called Redline. The tool allows IT managers to manage GroupWise clients via a Web-based interface and Redline’s at a Glance Dashboard.

Charles Taite, Gwava’s  co-founder, CEO and chief technology officer, said an increasing number of new GroupWise users are switching to a Linux-based platform.

“Most of the new GroupWise sales tend to be deploying Linux,” Taite said. “Coupling that with new GroupWise installs we’re seeing the Linux installed base creeping into the double digits.”

Some of Gwava’s larger accounts are also now looking to Linux, said Tom Poitras, territory director of West Coast and Canada region at Gwava.

“As soon as people take notice that the larger accounts are migrating their accounts to Linux, the small and medium companies will follow,” he said.

One of Gwava’s larger customers is the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., which uses a Gwava e-mail security solution to manage anti-virus message scanning, block spam, block attachments and filter e-mail content. The CBC recently discussed a wide-ranging identity management project based on Novell products.

While Linux appears to be catching on with some of its customers, Taite said the Canadian market, as usual, tends to lag behind the U.S. in its adoption of new technologies.

“There’s a tendency for Canadians to be more cautious about everything,” said Taite. “One of the Americans’ great strengths is that they charge forward and absorb new technologies faster.”

Novell earlier this week announced long-term plans for its GroupWise product, including details of its upcoming release code-named “Sequoia.” The company said it will support GroupWise users for the next 10 years and pre-bundle Suse Linux Enterprise Server with the upcoming release for free. New enhancements for Sequoia, which is scheduled to be released by this summer, include enhanced client code for Windows, Macintosh, Linux and the Web, support for Microsoft Outlook and new Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP)/XML interfaces to support integration of GroupWise with services-oriented application architectures.

Partners like the simplicity of installing Novell’s collaboration solutions over Microsoft  tools such as Exchange, said David Patrick, vice-president and general manager of Linux, open source platforms and services for Novell.

“Exchange is a tough thing to administer to deal with security and patches and can be expensive and frustrating for companies,” said Patrick in an interview Tuesday, adding that Microsoft Exachange administrators can cost a lot for small companies. “Because GroupWise is a very secure platform, (customers) don’t have the number of security leaks and attacks.”

Gwava is looking forward to the upcoming release of GroupWise.

“A happy customer of GroupWise is a happy customer of ours,” said company vice-president of marketing, Richard Bliss, who, prior to joining Gwave two years ago, served as former head of marketing for GroupWise at Novell. “Novell’s Linux initiative is driving a lot of innovation in the GroupWise space.”

Taite’s personal interest in developing Linux-based solutions was piqued by meeting Ximian at a trade show back in 2002 — one year prior to Novell acquiring the Linux desktop specialist.

“At the time we were running (Gwava) on a NetWare platform and as a side project we wanted to see if could make it work on Linux,” said Taite. “We had a working model of the software that was a learning model for us.”

Following Novell’s acquisition of Ximian, Gwava readied its first Linux-based release for commercial use.

Gwava also recently announced a partnership with Alberta-based Omni Technology Solutions, which also develops GroupWise enhancement products. Under the deal, the two companies will jointly go to market to promote their complimentary products to GroupWise users. The agreement also adds Omni’s Gee Whiz software to Gwava’s portfolio of GroupWise products.

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