Novell unveils enterprise collaboration platform beta

The Novell Vibe platform combines enterprise tools and social networking features designed for corporate users

Novell today took the wraps off a beta version of Novell Vibe -- its new social collaboration.

Previously known as Novell Pulse, the enterprise-focused Vibe collaboration platform is available either as a cloud-based service or on-site software.

Novell Vibe includes both enterprise features like real-time document editing, conversation retention and work group creation as well as social networking tools for direct messaging, chats and wikis.

Novell Vibe is taking on a growing collaboration market that includes Jive Software , which developed Facebook-like social networking tools, such as updates, people search and communication channels, designed for corporate users, and Cisco's Web-based Quad enterprise collaboration tool set. Other offerings include IBM's Lotus Connections and Microsoft's SharePoint, both of which have been available for some time.

Forrester Research analyst Rob Koplowitz said that if corporate IT managers give Vibe a serious look, Novell could be very competitive with its rivals.

"You should think of Novell for collaboration. They've been in this area with GroupWise for a pretty long time," said Koplowitz. "Vibe is a good move for Novell shops that want to move into these more modern [social networklng] technologies."

James Sims, CIO of Save Mart Supermarkets, said that Vibe is an obvious choice for his company's collaboration needs. The Novell shop has been testing Vibe for the past three weeks in four projects targeting 10 to 15 of the company's 20,000 employees.

The test has been so successful that Sims couldn't wait to get back to work on the projects during a brief period when Novell shut beta testing down to make changes to the software. "I wanted to get in there and keep moving on my projects," said Sims, who's company has 242 stores. "When they turned it off, it made me realize how much I'd been relying on it."

Sims did hope for some tweaks to the platform, which he called a little too "free form."

"I opened up a conversation on five bugs," he explained. "Pretty soon there was so much conversation. It could use a little more structure so you don't lose control."

The packaged Vibe OnPrem software is slated to be available later this year. The cloud version is expected to ship in the first half of 2011.

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