RIM tightens ties with Novell

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Research In Motion is using its space on the BrainShare show floor to tell customers about its plans to bring more presence awareness and improved collaboration capabilities to Novell GroupWise Messenger software that runs on its BlackBerry service and devices.

RIM, which has been handing out complimentary BlackBerry handhelds to attendees for the duration of their stay at Novell’s customer conference, is one of the event’s biggest sponsors this year. The two firms first announced their intention to further instant messaging (IM) in the enterprise last year at the Wireless Enterprise Symposium in Orlando. Novell also announced a QuickStart bundle for GroupWise e-mail software on BlackBerries in Monday’s keynote.

Aaron Stuart, a product manager at Waterloo, Ont.-based RIM, was conducting demonstrations at the company’s booth, linking back to a server in Toronto. He said GroupWise Collaboration Suite users running version 65.1 would soon be able to take advantage of integration with BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) version 4.1, which is scheduled to be released to manufacturing on March 31.

Stuart said the partnership put an emphasis on a simple configutation for GroupWise Messenger users that wanted to have access to IM on a BlackBerry, or vice-versa. The combined offering will allow group chats to be initiated on a handheld device, the ability to edit the display name, and phone calls and browser sessions to be hyperlinked directly into a message.

Location services and presence awareness are helping make IM a more appropriate fit for enterprise environments, Stuart said. The next step is to add features that will allow users to configure their personal status – whether they are online, busy or away.

“In some cases you might be online but want to hide that fact (from some people),” Stuart said. “In others, you want to be able to annotate the fact that you’re online, but also that you’re available.”

RIM was one of several Canadian vendors seeking new opportunities at BrainShare. Another was Toronto-based Platform Computing, whose VM Orchestrator helps automate virtual environments. Virtualization is a big theme at this year’s BrainShare, because Novell has integrated the open source Xen project into its enterprise server products.

Although VM Orchestrator isn’t confined to open source implementations, Platform business development manager Shawn Yeager said Novell’s message around Open Enterprise Server is resonating with its users.

“They are certainly running Linux,” he said. “There’s been a lot of interest, and many of them are moving in that direction over time.”

Third Brigade, a security firm based in Ottawa, was focused more on the installed base of Novell’s system management software, ZenWorks. Bill McGee, vice-president of products and services and a founder of Third Brigade, said the firm’s Deep Security helped add an information element to ZenWork’s remote access, system monitoring and asset tracking features.

“We’re like a virtual patch for them,” McGee said, adding that while Novell is increasingly focused on open source, it has a healthy following of more traditional commercial software in the ZenWorks segment. “They are certainly as interested in Windows.”

BrainShare 2006 runs through Friday.

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