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GroupWise 2012--Worth the Upgrade?!

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Scott Kunau
IT Consultant for 25 years specialist in Linux, email software, OS, Upgrades, Endpoint mgmt, entrepreneurship, training, migrations
Novell released its latest version of GroupWise a few weeks ago.  The version is 2012 and it only runs on Linux (SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10/11 is the first choice and I'm not sure about other Linux distributions, such as Red Hat, Debian, etc.) and Windows.  Support for NetWare is gone in this release as is the specific WebAccess Agent (commonly known as the gwinter).  WebAccess is now built into the Post Office Agent and it is faster and more stable than ever before.  I'll talk about a few more new features in another paragraph below.

If you're a GroupWise customer under maintenance with Novell, this upgrade is free.  If the current GroupWise system runs on NetWare as mine did, you'll have to migrate the file system to either Linux or Windows.  There are a variety of ways (xcopy, xxcopy, copy through Explorer, BeyondCompare) to copy the GroupWise system off of your NetWare server and onto Windows (preferably 2008).  There are only two ways that work to migrate your NetWare-based GroupWise 8 or earlier system to GroupWise 2012 on Linux: a manually completed dbcopy or using GWAVA Reload (see www.gwava.com for details).

I've migrated many systems from NetWare and Windows to Linux since Novell began making the agents for the Linux OS (it started at version 6.5 and became rock solid by version 8.0.1).  I've used dbcopy and Reload both to migrate the databases and file system and been able to do so almost silently as far as end-users are concerned.  Both utilities perform the migration by changing the case on all files and internally in the databases to lowercase...something required for the Linux-based agents.  Reload does so much more than just migrate GroupWise from NetWare to Linux and you can find out more by going to the above-mentioned website.

As far as features go, the WebAccess has undergone a huge upgrade and can really compete now with other products that provide webmail services (OWA for example).  Calendar capability is stronger in 2012 than in version 8. I can see all of my calendars and integrate them together better and easier than I could in earlier versions.  Tasks and contacts and their views and capabilities have undergone upgrades.  To see all of the changes take a quick look at www.novell.com/groupwise.

One other note of interest is the very tight integration between Novell Vibe 3.2 (Novell's very strong answer to SharePoint) and GroupWise 2012.  We now see our Vibe zone(s), folders, groups, work, etc. in our GroupWise client instead of through a browser (you can still use a browser of course).

Bottom line: you should upgrade...both clients and server agents (and server OS potentially).  You don't have to upgrade clients immediately though.  I've used version 7.0.3 against a version 2012 post office with no issue.  The major changes to WebAccess, upgrades to the 2012 Windows client (calendaring, etc.) make it completely worth scheduling the upgrade project.
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Author:Scott Kunau
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