Novell Pulse Jumps Into Fourth Generation Collaboration



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Novell seeks to recharge its collaboration business with an innovative, real-time platform that works with Google Wave. Novell Pulse is another sign of the emerging fourth generation of collaboration services.

News Analysis


On 4 November 2009, Novell announced a real-time collaboration platform for the enterprise, Novell Pulse, which will provide interoperability with Google Wave. Novell says Pulse will be available as a cloud service offering during 1H10 and as an on-premises version in a subsequent release.


Novell Pulse demonstrates the fluidity of the evolving collaboration market. After undergoing slow and incremental changes over the past decade, the collaboration market is seeing vendors and users create innovative combinations of Web 2.0 constructs such as social networking, real-time interaction, activity streams and location awareness. The emergence of what Gartner calls the "fourth generation" (Gen4) of collaboration services will provide new ways for users to work together, and in the long term, will challenge Microsoft's premises-based dominance of the collaboration market.

Like Google Wave, Pulse combines communication, content creation and collaboration capabilities, underpinned by Novell security and identity management services. Pulse is the first substantial service that interoperates with Google Wave Federation Protocol, which should enable interoperability with Wave and other Wave providers; however, the extent of the interoperability is still unclear. By piggybacking on Wave, Novell hopes to revive its fortunes in the collaboration market. Its once-substantial e-mail market share has eroded over the past five years, and the GroupWise base has yet to be re-energized by the shared work space and Web conferencing capabilities Novell acquired through its February 2008 acquisition of the open-source collaborative vendor SiteScape.

Pulse represents an "enterprise ready" version of Google Wave. It seeks to appeal to organizations drawn to the functionality of Wave, but hesitant to deploy it without robust security and management constructs. While Pulse was developed independently of Wave, its vision is remarkably similar. Support for the Google Wave Federation Protocol should alleviate corporate concerns about being orphaned on the Novell service, and will enable substantial interoperability across enterprises, which would be unavailable if Pulse were a "walled" service.

Gen4 collaboration services are only now emerging and are unlikely to have a substantial market impact until 2012. During that time, Gartner expects Microsoft to aggressively incorporate many Gen4 constructs, and substantially open its Exchange, SharePoint and Office Communication Services to outside services.


Organizations should experiment with new collaboration modalities to understand how they fit into the business.

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