Five Reasons the Enterprise Messaging / E-Mail Market is Getting Interesting Again Tuesday, Sep 16 2008 

1.  Choice – For years Microsoft and IBM have dominated this market with Exchange and Notes, with Novell and Oracle holding onto a small share of loyal customers. With Google, Yahoo! (Zimbra) and Cisco (recently announced the PostPath acquisition) all pushing into the market, enterprises have some options to consider. Novell and Oracle both have major releases scheduled before end of the year also. Choice and competition are good for a mature market because they will foster lower prices and innovation.

2.  SaaS – The primary reason Google, Yahoo! and Cisco are interesting is that they are Software as a Service offerings for e-mail. Both Microsoft and IBM have similar offerings in the works. The SaaS model gives enterprise a new delivery model to consider. Larry Cannel covers this in depth in a recently published report that Burton Group customers can access here.  In addition, Burton Group customers can read the results and analysis by Craig Roth of recent Burton Group / Ziff Davis survey on SaaS here.   Also, Jack Santos goes in depth on IT strategy, SaaS, and Google in the document found here.

3.  Social Software – The social software evolution is taking e-mail back to its roots as an asynchronous communication method and providing interesting new ways for e-mail to fulfill this role in larger collaboration systems or platforms.

4.  Mashups – The interface for e-mail is becoming interesting again with mashups.  Check out any of these six solutions to see what I mean: ZenbeOrgooFuserTopicRGoowy, and Jubii.  These have been labeled by some as e-mail aggregators, but many of the features delivered demonstrate that there is much more than e-mail aggregation going on here.  Perhaps one of the most interesting mashups that is still in the “playing with the idea” stage is Adobe’s Genesis project.

5.  Legal Decisions – As I have previously blogged, the courts continue to delve into defining e-mail’s legal status through decisions that present challenges to users and enterprises alike. Compliance and e-discovery are becoming “block and tackle” e-mail issues that need to be addressed by enterprises, with the courts continuing to add complexity through new legal decisions. 


Note:  This is a cross-posting from the Collaboration and Content Strategies blog.

GroupWise 8 Open Beta Released Thursday, Sep 4 2008 

Novell GroupWise 8 released to open beta yesterday. As a former product manager for GroupWise, I think Novell customers will be pleased with the enhancements – otherwise, I didn’t do a very good job. But, having worked on the product, let me share some insight I have on this release that might be of interest.

While Novell doesn’t spend much marketing effort to compete with IBM and Microsoft in the enterprise messaging market, Novell does continue to develop and maintain GroupWise for their established customer base. Most market estimates place Novell’s single digit enterprise messaging market share at a distant third to IBM and Microsoft. But GroupWise is a good example of how e-mail systems once entrenched, tend to stay. 

It has taken Novell a long time to deliver on GroupWise 8.  GroupWise 7 released in August 2005. However, GroupWise customers will find some nice “delighters” in this next release, as Novell spent a significant portion of its development effort on the end user experience. 

Perhaps one the most significant differentiators in this release is that Novell can now tout a complete enterprise messaging solution from the server to the desktop for Linux. Novell has been using its own Linux desktop internally for several years. As a result, there was significant pressure on the GroupWise team to bring the GroupWise Linux client up to snuff. The Linux client in GroupWise 8 is arguably one of the richest Linux e-mail clients in the market. Unfortunately for Linux aficionados, it is not open source.  For GroupWise customers, this also means a very rich Mac client, as the two clients share the same code base. 

In addition to the Linux development, GroupWise contact management, task management and calendaring have been enhanced significantly – bringing them on par (or even slightly better, depending upon your opinion) with Exchange and Notes.  

Two major pain points for GroupWise that are not fixed in this release are the weak Outlook connector and no iPhone support. 

Overall, GroupWise customers should be happy with this next version and it should help Novell to retain customers. Now Novell needs to find a large, credible partner to help them provide a robust hosted GroupWise offering or potentially watch their customer base dwindle away as SaaS e-mail solutions become more viable for enterprises. 

Another 800 LB Gorilla Jumps In – Cisco Acquiring PostPath Thursday, Aug 28 2008 

Microsoft and IBM have long dominated the enterprise messaging market, with Novell and Oracle holding onto a small and loyal set of customers. Google continues to threaten to enter this market but, as my colleague Guy Creese points out, still has a ways to go. This market hasn’t changed much in several years, other than it’s slow evolution in becoming integrated with hot new technologies like social networking. Now Cisco has jumped into the enterprise messaging market with the announcement of the acquisition of PostPath.

On the surface, Cisco has the size and resources to potentially challenge Microsoft’s and IBM’s dominance of the enterprise e-mail market. However, like Google, Cisco has a ways to go and displacing Microsoft and IBM as a preferred e-mail solution vendor will be very difficult. 

The e-mail market is established. To win, you have to take market share from Microsoft or IBM.  Their solutions are mature, integrated, and entrenched. Once in place, e-mail solutions tend to stay. 

Cisco’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) approach, ability to tie the PostPath solution to their existing collaborative technologies (notably WebEx), and knowledge of enterprise IT give them a shot taking market share. Initially, it is clear that Cisco is targeting Microsoft. 

It won’t be easy. Cisco has to answer the questions of why and how for enterprises. Why would an organization want to incur the cost to leave an e-mail solution that works for them today and how would an organization actually migrate to the Cisco solution?   

Both Microsoft and IBM are launching SaaS offerings that include e-mail and are meeting their customers enterprise messaging needs. Cisco is going to need a strong “Why” story. And if they don’t offer an easy “How” answer, then even a good “Why” story might not be enough to persuade many customers to leave their current solution. But, hey, this is technology. Anything can happen.

Note:  This is a cross-posting from the Collaboration and Content Strategies blog.

Virtualizing Exchange? Maybe not… Wednesday, Aug 27 2008 

Microsoft recently made changes to its licensing program for Microsoft Server Products in Virtual Environments. My colleagues, Chris Wolf and Richard Jones, commented on the changes in licensing from the data center perspective. However, as part of the announcement, Microsoft also published a support statement for virtualizing Exchange. While the statement is very detailed, it led me to an important question for Microsoft – or as one of the Microsoft folks I talked with aptly put it: “This announcement begs the question of whether MSFT recommends virtualizing the Mailbox server role.”

The answer? “The answer is that while the Mailbox server role is supported in a virtual environment and customers are permitted to do it, we generally recommend customers run Mailbox servers on physical hardware.” 

The reasons are understandable – Mailbox servers have high server transactional costs that lead to high CPU utilization, heavy disk IO, and large quantities of attached data. 

The support statement doesn’t contain this advice, so after further conversation with the folks at Microsoft, I received the following clarifications: 

  • Virtualizing Exchange in test, development, or small deployments (branch office, for example) is not a bad idea because the load is lighter.
  • The role of the Exchange server needs to be considered – a mailbox server is a role where issues may arise, but an edge transport or client access server might be a good candidate, depending upon the architecture of the implementation.
  • You can throw more hardware power at the mailbox server role, depending upon the load, but the drawback may be that you end up paying more for the hardware than if you didn’t virtualize.  The mathematics of the TCO need to be examined in this scenario.
  • Virtualizing Exchange narrows your storage options, like deploying on a SAN, and may force smaller mailbox quotas. 
  • Avoid the mistake of making the virtualized Exchange a single point of failure. 
  • Note that support for virtualized Exchange 2007 is for SP1 or better.  The Microsoft folks verified that this is not because of specific fixes in SP1, but rather to take advantage of the fact that 2007 SP1 is the version supported on Windows Server 2008 with Hyper-V. 

The folks at Microsoft offered some recommendations for virtualized Exchange also:

The sum? Virtualizing production Exchange mailbox servers is, generally, not a good idea from a technical perspective. When I asked the folks at Microsoft if they were going to use virtualization for Exchange Online, their answer was no.They said it would increase their management load and tweaking Exchange and AD to run multi-tenant was more cost effective.

Going Green with Web Conferencing Wednesday, Aug 20 2008 

While doing research for my upcoming web conferencing overview document, I was discussing with the folks at the Adobe the perceived value of web conferencing in relation to being “green.”  With new announcements almost daily from companies announcing their “green” efforts (For example, IBM’s latest announcement in it’s Big Green initiative), being green in IT is growing in popularity and trendy.     

The folks at Adobe showed me a nifty little application pod for Adobe Connect Pro from RefinedData that calculates, based on the IP address of attendees, the carbon footprint savings by attending a web conference meeting instead of traveling to the host location.  The add-in is called Footprints.  The screenshot below gives you a feel for it:

Footprints Preview


The idea is that the Footprints add-in will show attendees and the organization how much carbon they have saved the planet through the use of the Connect Pro conferencing tool.  If you are a Connect Pro customer, the add-in might be a way to tout your “greenness” –  if that is worth the $295 license fee from RefinedData to you.  You can download a free trial version here.

Another web conferencing vendor, iLinc, is expending a fairly significant effort to tout it’s iLinc Green Meter:


The gist of these tools is to provide some method to track and measure the benefit of web conferencing in relation to Green initiatives by organizations.  While the scientific accuracy of the real environmental benefit could probably be argued, the marketing value seems to be on the rise with the trendy and politially correct efforts to “show your greenness.”


E-mail and Privacy in the 9th Circuit Court Again Thursday, Aug 14 2008 

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has another key case related to e-mail and privacy to decide. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a friend-of-the-court brief on August 1st regarding a lower court’s decision in the case of Bunnell v. Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), asking for the lower court’s decision to be reversed. 

In this case, EFF filed a brief with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals “arguing that federal wiretapping law protects emails from unauthorized interception while they are temporarily stored on the email servers that transmit them.”

The owners of TorrentSpy brought the case against the MPAA when a contractor for TorrentSpy, allegedly after being paid by the MPAA, hacked into the company email server and configured it to copy and forward all incoming and outgoing email to his personal account.  Ironically, the information was then allegedly used by the MPAA in a lawsuit levied against TorrentSpy for copyright infringement.

As I mentioned in my previous blog on this subject, I am not an attorney and appropriate legal counsel should be consulted before making any decisions based on any information shared in this post. However, coming from the perspective of e-mail as corporate communications tool, the EFF is absolutely right. 

The ramifications of the lower court’s decision, should it hold through the legal process, are significant.  Allowing the secret copying and forwarding of e-mail without a legal penalty or control that the federal wiretapping law provides would make e-mail a massive liability for enterprises. Much of most enterprises’ intellectual property flows through e-mail in various forms – e.g. content, attachments, and calendar items. I understand that enterprises would still have other methods to protect themselves, but losing the protection of e-mail as communication under this law could lead to all kinds of scenarios that make legal departments shudder.   

Exabytes today, A Zettabyte in 5 years? And a Yottabyte? Wednesday, Jul 30 2008 

What is an Exabyte you ask?  At least, that is what I was wondering when I recently attended Cisco’s Visual Networking Index Forecast conference call.  

An Exabyte is 1,000 Petabytes.  A Petabyte is 1,000 Terabytes.  You can buy an external storage device for your PC with a Terabyte of storage at your local computer or office supply store for a couple of hundred dollars.  

Cisco put it in perspective for me when they described one Exabyte as 250 million DVDs or 150 Exabytes is the amount of data that has traversed the Internet since its creation.  What is beyond a Exabyte?  A Zettabyte.  A Zettabyte therefore is about 250 billion DVDs.  Beyond that?  A Yottabyte.  

While the mathematics of this is interesting, what is fascinating is Cisco’s forecast.  In this part of the world, gone are the days of talking in Gigabytes or Terrabytes.  Cisco predicts that in 2010, 175 Exabytes will cross the Internet and by 2012?… Cisco forecasts annual global IP traffic will reach a half a Zettabyte.  Staggering…  considering that to date per Cisco’s numbers there has only been a 150 Exabytes total that have traversed the Internet.

The drivers for this exponential increase per Cisco are internet video to TV, internet video to PC and the continued growth of peer to peer (P2P).  Cisco puts consumer video on demand growing at a 93% CAGR from 2007 to 2012, quadrupling consumer IP traffic by 2012.  

Again, to give it some perspective, Cisco predicts that the average household consumption in the U.S. in 2010 will be 1.1 TB per month – mainly driven by HDTV.

So what does Cisco see beyond 2012?  Obviously more growth, but driven by addition of interactive video.  My interpretation is that interactive video tools in a collaborative technologies will lead next wave of growth beyond 2012.  

The implications of the this forecast are many.  Answering the questions around building bigger pipes and/or optimizing solutions alone are difficult.  But specifically for collaboration technologies, it implies that collaborative tools will see the development of the live, visual element as a core feature to go along with the text based solutions that exist today.   This is not a new prediction by any means, but Cisco’s forecast implies that the reality of video – live video – via the Internet becoming a standard feature is not far off.  

It will be interesting to watch as vendors integrate interactive video into collaborative solutions as a standard feature.  Literally, we will be “seeing” each other on the Internet.

Le commencement… Wednesday, Jul 16 2008 


All good things have to have a beginning.  This is the beginning of what I intend to be a useful and informational blog about collaboration technology and collaboration in general.

I am currently an analyst for the the Collaboration and Content Strategies team at the Burton Group.  I come from the product management ranks – Novell and LexisNexis.

Hopefully, this blog will be entertaining, useful, thought provoking and helpful – to me and you.  All comments are welcome.

Best regards,


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