For years, GroupWise has been a viable, full-featured, directory-based groupware system. While its place in the market has declined in recent years, Novell continues to update, improve, and release new versions of this product.

The latest incarnation of GroupWise is version 6.5. GroupWise 6.5 builds upon previous releases with a host of new features, including instant messaging, an enhanced client user interface, support for mobile clients, and an account recovery utility. Here’s more of what this new version has to offer.

My configuration

For this article, I have installed GroupWise 6.5 on a Windows 2000 Server running eDirectory 8.7. eDirectory/NDS on any platform is required in order to install GroupWise. I have the new client running on a Windows 2000 system as well. I will not go over installation of GroupWise 6.5 but will instead present some of its new features and take a look at the new client software.

Now featuring…
Perhaps one of the most useful features in GroupWise 6.5 is the integration of secure instant messaging (IM) into the product. With business IM usage on the rise and organizations depending on it to conduct day-to-day business, this will be a welcome addition to the suite. Better yet, the IM infrastructure included in GroupWise 6.5 is completely standards-based and includes policies that allow an organization to track how it is used to prevent abuse and to help maintain employee productivity.

Need to recover a deleted user?
Another option that is sure to please any administrator who has ever tried to recover the contents of a single mailbox is GroupWise 6.5’s ability to more easily handle this task. In ConsoleOne, choose Tools | GroupWise Utilities | Recover Deleted Account. (See Figure A.) Of course, this utility requires that you keep good backups. Once an account has been recovered, you can restore the mailbox by choosing Tools | GroupWise Utilities | Backup/Restore Mailbox.

Figure A
You can now recover a mailbox more easily than before.

There are a couple of drawbacks to the Account Recovery Utility. First, you must reassign distribution list membership; second, you must manually reassign resource ownership if the deleted account was the owner of any resources.

How about spam and junk mail?
The new GroupWise client also includes the ability to automatically filter out spam or junk mail based on criteria provided by the user. For example, a user may decide that mail from anyone not in his or her list of contacts is junk and have all other mail routed to the junk mail folder. Another user might opt to add only specific e-mail addresses to a junk mail list. (See Figure B.)

Figure B
Handling junk mail with the GroupWise client is now better than ever.

Client enhancements
No release would be complete without a few updates to the client software. (See Figure C.) Among the new features in the GroupWise client are:

  • Color-coding: This is a handy feature that can provide “at-a-glance” determination of message classification.
  • Checklist folder: Creates an instant task list by dragging a message to a specific folder.
  • Additional subject headings: Have you ever opened a message with a title such as “Next week’s meeting” only to find out that it’s actually about a specific project you’re working on? If so, additional subject headings might be for you. This allows you to give a message a second subject for easier categorization. However, when the message is replied to, the original subject is used for less confusion.

Figure C
The GroupWise 6.5 client includes new features too.

In addition to client improvements, WebAccess has also gained some new features, including full-text search capability, enhanced item properties information, and optional SSL between the WebAccess agent and the GroupWise post office for greater security.

More SSL
You can configure the GroupWise Internet Agent (GWIA) and client systems to require SSL connections to further improve the overall security of the environment.

System requirements
The minimum GroupWise system requirements are fairly meager, requiring a 200 MHz system with 300 MB available for GroupWise and 200 MB or so (minimum) for each user. For RAM, plan on a base of 8 MB for the GroupWise agents themselves (above and beyond the requirements for the operating system and other software on the server), plus 250 KB to 400 KB per user. The more users on the system, the less RAM required per user, but be pretty generous with the RAM in any event. For example, a system with 250 users would require around 108 MB of RAM—8 MB for the base agents, plus 100 MB (250 * 400 KB) to support users.

On the client side, any modern Windows operating system (with the exception of Windows 95, although I’m not sure that is considered modern anymore) will suffice as long as it has sufficient RAM (32 MB minimum) and disk space (25 MB or so).

For Web Access systems, any standard browser will work.

At the time of this writing, list pricing for GroupWise 6.5 was $130 for a full license or $30 for a WebAccess/wireless-only license.

GroupWise keeps going
With secure instant messaging, SSL capability for various components, and better administrative utilities, GroupWise 6.5 is a good step forward for Novell and can help make the messaging environment both more secure and easier to manage.