Montreal developer buys Bulgaria’s OpenNet

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A Montreal software developer took Novell’s BrainShare event as an opportunity to announce an acquisition and the launch of an open source project centred around GroupWise.

Spokespeople from Messaging Architects told attendees at a Canadian BrainShare reception this week that it had bought OpenNet Software, a small firm based in Sofia, Bulgaria. Messaging Architects makes tools to secure and manage e-mail systems such as Novell’s GroupWise, IBM’s Lotus Notes and Microsoft Exchange, while OpenNet is focused exclusively on the GroupWise market. Its flagship product, TreeCast, allows users to distribute shared folders through e-mail. According to Messaging Architects chief executive Pierre Chamberland, however, the real attraction was GW Commander, a tool that administrators can use to set policies around subject/text and attachments, retain messages in an XML database and perform cleanup actions.

“There is a huge void in the market for compliance solutions (around GroupWise),” he said, noting the estimated 28 million to 30 million GroupWise installations globally, most of which lack any kind of management console. “Administrators are starting to need tools to handle even run-of-the-mill requests.”

GW Commander will become an open source project to which third parties can contribute, Chamberland said, potentially creating a range of utilities around the product that could ease the compliance challenge. This will be particularly useful for the many budget-challenged public sector GroupWise customers, he added.

“A company running Exchange 5.5 won’t hesitate to drop a bunch on money on developing something, but a school or a hospital doesn’t have the resources to do that.”

One example of that kind of customer is BridgePoint Health, which uses the latest version of the product, GroupWise 7. Marc St.-Arnauld, BridgePoint’s manager of information systems, said the organization is looking at deploying GroupWise over BlackBerry Enterprise Server to internal users. These could include physicians, nursing staff or other members of a health-care provider team.

“In terms of Web access, it’s second to none,” he said.

OpenNet was founded in 2003 and has more than 1,000 TreeCast installations around the world. Messaging Architects plans to put its founder and the creator of GW Commander in charge of the open source project.

“Quite frankly, not a lot of large North American GroupWise users are going to seek out a compliance solution from a five-man shop in Bulgaria,” he said, adding OpenNet’s GW Commander framework should be particularly attractive to outside developers. “If they know how to code in VB or C #, they’ll be able to contribute.”

Novell has invested considerably in its own identity and resource management tools, including Identity Manager and ZenWorks, but Chamberland said it was too early to tell whether GW Commander would be rolled into more over-arching compliance efforts.

“(ZenWorks and GW Commander) both leverage eDirectory, so they would be tied to the same back-end system,” he said.

Messaging Architects also announced at BrainShare that it has partnered with Cupertino, Calif.-based e-mail encryption firm PostX to add policy-based security features to its Guardian e-mail firewall for GroupWise users.

BrainShare 2006 runs through Friday.

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