The Groupwise Advantage - Reality Checking other's claims

GroupWise, the world's easiest to use Collaboration product: Responds to the misinformation and omissions of Exchange's perspective document.

Microsoft recently published a "perspective" on GroupWise 5.5 claiming to show how the latest release fails to address the product's weaknesses. Microsoft attempts to put a spin on the facts, essentially confusing the reader with partial-and some completely Novell Advantage Home Groupwise Marketing through Misrepresentation Sins of Omission TCO Misdirections Point by Point GroupWise is the Answer inaccurate-information, and then omits the heart of the issues where Microsoft itself has a weak story. The writer attempts to appear objective in the writing of this paper, but fails to do so as it is clear that he/she has no grasp on what GroupWise does or how it operates-and thus represents it with faulty information.

It's no stretch to wonder why Microsoft is on the attack--GroupWise's total user base grew close to 50% in 1998 to 15 million users; it won PC/Computing's 1998 MVP award for collaboration and e-mail, won Computerworld's IT Leaders' Choice award for Groupware/Messaging, won VAR Business 1998 Top 100 Product award for collaboration and e-mail, and, already in 1999, ZDNet has given GroupWise 5.5 the Editor's Choice of Collaboration and E-mail products,4161,387651,00.html. Clearly GroupWise meets key customer criteria-and is the standard for Exchange to emulate.

Marketing through Misrepresentation

Though Microsoft’s misrepresentations may be obvious to those who use GroupWise and know the practical differences between GroupWise and Exchange, it doesn’t stop Microsoft from trying to confuse. In the "perspectives" document, Microsoft begins with the false assumption of unstated GroupWise "weaknesses" and piles up omissions in fact and flat-out misinformation to ground this falsity in something that sounds like truth

In the mean time, the document fails to mention the very thing that makes groupware such an important part of any organization—productivity: Where, ironically, Exchange doesn’t score as well as GroupWise.

Bit of an oversight?

With that omission and many more, what’s missing in the Microsoft document makes you wonder what’s missing in the Microsoft product itself. The document makes claims that can’t be substantiated and applies them with a biased hand, twisting the facts on TCO, reliability, scalability and so on—all noticeably areas that Microsoft has historically struggled with and currently can not substantiate in terms of credible claims of leadership.

Sins of Omission

So many of the "facts" represented in the document are misrepresented, it would be difficult to address them all here. (See the subhead, "Point by Point," for a quick attempt to help you sort it out.) But the most glaring omission of the paper is simply that of productivity—which is, after all, the entire reason customers purchase and use groupware applications in the first place.

The Microsoft document on GroupWise makes no mention of productivity. This is perhaps because Microsoft has the weaker productivity story: Exchange performs so poorly against GroupWise in productivity studies, the results must be acutely embarrassing to Microsoft.

A study by Creative Networks Inc. (CNI), for example, showed that GroupWise users are 600% more productive in information sharing than are Exchange users. The reason: GroupWise is more intuitive and easier to use, and gives users more options for sharing information—like PDA, pager, phone and Web access. GroupWise’s Universal Mailbox gathers everything the user needs to communicate, collaborate, share and schedule in one place, using one interface. Not so with Exchange. While Exchange users can send and receive all types of messages from their inbox, they do not have out-of-the-box access to a document management system. Worse, users can’t share address books, distribution lists or calendar views—which means they can’t share that information as a team, workgroup or department. The difference, for users, is greatly diminished productivity.

TCO Misdirections

The second area that Microsoft does injustice to is that of Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). The Gartner study points out an enormous discrepancy here—one Microsoft would like to bury if at all possible by trying to bring up bogus TCO arguments. (See the subhead, "Point by Point.") According to Gartner, the cost to purchase, implement and operate the top groupware products per user over the period of three years is as follows:

GroupWise: $136
Exchange: $470
Notes: $719
Clearly GroupWise provides the above described value for significantly less than the next two contenders. In the following few paragraphs we will address a few of the components of this total cost of ownership that Microsoft's perspective may have mislead others in. Again, the bottom line of TCO is simply this: GroupWise $136 per user over the period of three years, Exchange $470 for the same period of time and number of users.

In the document, Microsoft lashes out at Novell Directory Services, claiming that GroupWise increases TCO costs due to a lack of integration between GroupWise and NDS (as well as NT and NDS). Here, the document does more than simply omit: It misdirects—leading to conclusions that are directly opposite to fact. According to ZDNet, the tight integration with NDS gives any application (including GroupWise) significant TCO savings over its competitors while helping both end users and network administrators to be more productive. It also reduces staffing and staff cross-training by enabling entire networks to be managed through a single point of administration. In the case of GroupWise, it also combines messaging staff and network administration to a far greater degree than its competitors. (Source: CNI.)

On March 9th 1999, ZDNet exclaimed the truth of the value of NDS in their article "How Microsoft Lost the Cold War. How Novell Won. And Why You Should Care." They stated, "Microsoft waged a Cold War for the past six years, using propaganda and promises to fend off a competitor. It looks like it's going to lose. The war of words is over directories, often described as the ‘white pages’ of the Internet. Theoretically, a directory lets you find anything attached to the network—users, servers, printers, and disks. More importantly, a true directory lets you manage all those resources. Manage thousands of users from a single, centralized console, even when they share PCs or when they roam from PC to PC. Why is Novell winning? Because its Novell Directory Services (NDS) can accomplish the things mentioned above right now. Microsoft's current directory cannot. Microsoft propagandizes a new Active Directory, asking customers to wait until it shows up. It's now years overdue. Meanwhile, customers need a robust directory for centralized management, for new directory-enabled applications, for scalable ecommerce."

Tight integration between Novell Directory Services (NDS) and GroupWise contribute heavily to TCO savings here. Because it is directory-enabled, GroupWise can be administered from a single point across an entire enterprise network. It can springboard from existing NDS user profiles—making it possible to set up an entire groupware infrastructure in a matter of hours rather than weeks. Exchange has no tie to any standard directory, and it shows—administrators must set up the Exchange infrastructure manually, user by user, and they must administer Exchange through NT’s complex domain structure. The difference? According to industry analysts, NDS saves 70% of network and desktop administration costs—a savings that translates directly to the GroupWise implementation.

Another area where Microsoft may mislead the reader was that of cost of operations. They stated that "In a recent 'Workgroup and Intranet Computing: Cost of Ownership Study' by Gartner Group, almost one-quarter of Exchange users report operating costs essentially at or below the midpoint of reported costs for GroupWise." The truth is that the midpoint cost of operating Exchange is over 9 times higher than that of GroupWise. The midpoint operation cost per user over the period of three years was $36 for GroupWise, and a whopping $330 for Exchange. Here’s the chart—you decide.

You may notice that Notes incurs the highest costs due to its heavy emphasis on development—Notes is not an out-of-the-box solution and does not pretend to be one. GroupWise, of course, provides immediate value, requiring no development, while still providing 80-90% of what users might hope to one day get from a fully customized Notes environment. In fact, there are many Notes users who also use GroupWise: Using Notes for their database-like functions and GroupWise for their collaboration needs.

So where does Exchange come in here? Reported to be an "out-of-the-box" solution, its implementation incurs costs mid-way to that of Notes, a fully developed custom solution. So where is the discrepancy? It will be even more interesting once you read that the base product from Exchange requires multiple 3rd party products just to match the out-of-the-box value of GroupWise.

The costs incurred by companies implementing Exchange are not investments (as they would be in the Notes scenario)—they’re incurred just trying to get the product to work at its most basic level. According to CNI, organizations implementing Exchange had to purchase 82% new servers just to run the product at all. Any increase in company size meant yet another big increase in servers: Tripling the size of the Exchange user base, for instance, increased server needs by 162%.

Compare this with GroupWise: When the GroupWise user base is tripled, organizations needed to increase the number of servers by only 64%, and only 16% had to purchase their servers new. Obviously the efficiency of GroupWise keeps server costs—and implementation costs—down. This should also answer to the Microsoft challenges to scalability. Another note for the scalability of GroupWise: It was the product selected to support the 250,000 attendees of Comdex (1997 & 98), handling over 1,000,000 messages a day, with zero downtime. Any guess why Exchange was not chosen? We’re not sure either, but maybe failures like that which afflicted the U.S. House of Representatives might give us a clue—check out the story on

Yet another factor: While Exchange is supposedly an out-of-the-box solution, its document management capabilities come out of someone else’s boxes, as does its Web publishing capabilities. Microsoft makes a big deal of having so many partners, but doesn’t tell you how difficult it is to implement all those partners’ products on your network—including the fact that you have to manage, upgrade, patch and train for each one of those products separately. Think of the management costs incurred here and you’ll understand a little more about the cost discrepancies between using GroupWise and Exchange.

Again, something Microsoft left out of its perspective: Exchange runs only on NT, requiring you to create an entire NT infrastructure alongside whatever other network platforms you’re using just to run messaging, calendaring and scheduling. What’s the cost of implementing and maintaining an entirely separate infrastructure? And what’s the point? There are no real feature-based or functional advantages, and the disadvantages of cost, maintenance and compatibility headaches are considerable.

Point by Point

With all that Microsoft says, the greatest indicators of the real story is often what it doesn’t say . . . or how it says it to misdirect the facts. These are great courtroom tactics, but for those of you just trying to make a decision on product, it’s a waste of your time. To help you slog through the misinformation, we will now address the misinformation published by Microsoft in its document point by point. While you read, you may come to wonder why Microsoft makes statements like this at all—and what they’re trying to accomplish when they do. We will do our best to counter this misinformation—and hope the facts will help you make a better real-world decision.

Microsoft Misinforms . . .
Novell Corrects . . .

Internet addressing

Claims GroupWise 5.5 will finally deliver on native Internet addressing standards that Exchange has supported for "years."
GroupWise is now leading in Internet addressing by delivering "Intelligent internet addressing". GroupWise intelligent Internet addressing just as the name indicates allows the user to use Internet style addresses. But GroupWise takes this one step further. GroupWise intelligently processes the address and determines if the address is a local user or an external user and routes the message accordingly. If the message is external and the recipient is in fact on a GroupWise system, GroupWise will maintain the status tracking information of the message. GroupWise will also allow the users to perform business to business busy searches over the intent as well as other collaboration services previously available only from within the Corporate LAN. GroupWise 5.5 Intelligent addressing raises the bar for collaboration over the Internet.


While pointing out GroupWise’s enhanced security, cites lack of PGP add-on security until GroupWise 5.5.
This is misleading: GroupWise has a DMS-based security solution certified through government labs based on defense messaging criteria—something Microsoft does not point out. An important fact to point out is that GroupWise achieved the certification without deferral of major technical components while Microsoft Exchange did not.

Full solution & 3rd party support

Presents third-party choices in document management as a user benefit: "Exchange . . . offers a choice of document management solutions from several major ISVs."
Microsoft refuses to acknowledge that Exchange simply doesn’t include a document management / collaboration offering—and that Exchange customers must purchase a document management solution at cost for both the software and the integration and development of the add-on solution. This is also true for imaging, web publishing and professional quality workflow. Contrary to Microsoft's claim, users are still free to use third party solutions with GroupWise; however it is a choice not a must with GroupWise, since the value is already provided within the solution and is immediately available to the user.

NDS integration

Claims that after five years of development, GroupWise is still missing many capabilities, like:

Integration with NDS and Windows NT. Claims that GroupWise uses a separate directory from NDS, routing synchronization through a single primary domain and creating a single point of failure.
This is misleading: Any fault of the single domain structure is a problem endemic to NT itself—something Novell can’t completely fix. But the document also fails to point out what Novell does to rectify the problem: NDS synchronizes information that can be routed in any domain, not just the primary domain—eliminating the potential domain failure. In fact, with NDS for NT, users can opt to bypass the domain headache altogether. In this case Novell manages the weaknesses of NT better than Microsoft.

Forces administrators to understand both NDS and GroupWise architectures to create a GroupWise system, and provides no tools to look at GroupWise directory databases—problems must be reported by users before they can be known and repaired. This is untrue: Administrators need only understand how to use NWAdmin to administer the entire GroupWise system across the entire enterprise network. Problems are reported automatically, 7x24.

Disk quota and cost reduction

GroupWise lacks disk quota management and least-cost-routing of message tools.
Not so—GroupWise offers link scheduling to reduce the cost of expensive links (like leased lines), and provides disk quota management via server-based scheduled events.

Message Size control

GroupWise doesn’t allow administrators to impose message size restrictions, causing jams and other administrative problems.
Untrue: GroupWise offers message size limits for components like SMTP and X.400 routed messages. Link scheduling functionality also includes size-trigger mechanisms.


GroupWise requires ManageWise to monitor its performance.
Misleading: GroupWise includes support for SNMP management capabilities—the industry’s recognized standard for management. A ManageWise snap-in provides enhanced GroupWise-specific functionality for those who want it. For those who don’t, GroupWise offers other choices.


GroupWise is not scalable and has performance problems with memory degradation.
Very misleading: the behavior of GroupWise in testing cited here is typical of all server-based applications, including Exchange. Interestingly enough, of the test bed cited, the worst performance out of GroupWise came on a Windows NT Server—something not mentioned in the document. Novell products have consistently scaled far better than Microsoft products in network performance—obviously, this is a sore point for Microsoft. GroupWise is legendary in its ability to scale: Trade shows like COMDEX use GroupWise to provide messaging for its 250,000+ users—something nobody has ever invited Microsoft to provide. Another support to the scalability of GroupWise vs. Exchange is the following: According to CNI, organizations implementing Exchange had to purchase 82% new servers just to run the product at all. Any increase in company size meant yet another big increase in servers: Tripling the size of the Exchange user base, for instance, increased server needs by 162%. Compare this with GroupWise: When the GroupWise user base is tripled, organizations needed to increase the number of servers by only 64%, and only 16% had to purchase their servers new. Obviously the efficiency of GroupWise keeps server costs—and implementation costs—down. This clearly points to greater scalability of GroupWise.

Scalability and RISC architecture

GroupWise is not available on highly scalable RISC architectures running on Windows NT Server. "Customers interested in reducing the total cost of ownership through server consolidation may benefit from the highly scalable Microsoft Exchange Enterprise Edition running on Windows NT Server Enterprise Edition."
Hello? Isn’t this the product that requires up to 4 times the number of servers just to implement? Anyone wants to buy even more expensive Enterprise Edition servers just to "consolidate" for TCO? Also: GroupWise does support RISC-based Unix platforms for Sun, HP and IBM. Of all these RISC-based solutions, NT’s has been found to be the least scalable. And Exchange doesn’t run on anything but NT, while GroupWise runs on everything else.


GroupWise is not reliable: It has bugs.
Enough said: This one is too obvious to bother addressing. How about 5.6 million messages with zero downtime for Comdex; no wonder GroupWise was the product of choice. How about GroupWise's total user base grew close to 50% in 1998 to 15 million users, it won PC/Computing's 1998 MVP award for collaboration and e-mail, won Computerworld's IT Leaders' Choice award for Groupware/Messaging, won VAR Business 1998 Top 100 Product award for collaboration and e-mail, and already in 1999 ZDNet gave GroupWise 5.5 the Editor's Choice of Collaboration and E-mail product,4161,327651,00.html. Clearly signs of a stable product.

Transaction rollback and commit

Several GroupWise customers have had messages disappear—perhaps due to the fact that GroupWise writes to the Guardian database, which does not have rollback data transaction log. The Guardian "provides for rollback of incomplete transactions, but the data that is rolled back is likely lost."
Nonsensical: Obviously someone is confusing the industry-accepted model of transaction rollback and commit. This is deliberately misleading, because it implies that uncommitted transactions should remain in the database! Any database rollback transaction discards uncommitted transactions in order to keep the database clean—anything else would be a corruption of the database. This is an obvious attempt to discredit the proven stability of GroupWise, which supports roll-forward logging and transaction rollback on all database files, maintains a checksum on every block in the database, and includes sophisticated error detection and recovery.


GroupWise cannot effectively use NetWare’s caching system because of this Guardian limitation.
Cites a Novell technical document for reference, but this document refers to disabling the internal cache mechanisms of a GroupWise Agent—not the NetWare cache. Someone got their facts wrong—or used the wrong facts to twist the truth.


GroupWise requires offline backups, requiring all users.
Not true: State backups are only one method of backing up data. A GroupWise system can be fully backed up using a backup tool that supports backup of open files to exist and all server agents to suspend database operations.

Compatibility & cross-platform

GroupWise is missing basic compatibility. "Novell plans to offer a beta of its Gateway to Microsoft Exchange to allow interoperability for customers in mixed messaging environments. More importantly, gateways for Microsoft Mail, Lotus cc:Mail, Lotus Notes and SNADS run on IBM OS/2 servers only and not on mainstream platforms like Windows NT Server or NetWare."
Wonder why? Microsoft only exposes the software developers kit / APIs for Microsoft Mail development on two platforms DOS and OS/2. On NT, GroupWise currently offers an Exchange and cc:Mail gateway, and will offer Microsoft Mail and Lotus Notes Gateways on NT in the near future. Other gateways include WebAccess (Ships with GroupWise 5.5) and GroupWise Internet Agent (Ships with GroupWise 5.5). The WebAccess of GroupWise gives it the most universal compatibility, allowing your information to be accessible from your browser.

PDA support

"GroupWise still does not offer a native solution for Windows CE-based clients."
Not so. PUMA offers Windows CE support for GroupWise mobile users just like it does for Exchange.

Microsoft Integration

"Exchange and Outlook provide tight integration with Office 97. Applications that take advantage of and integrate with Office 97 are possible with little or no programming. GroupWise would require the use of C3Pos to provide this level of functionality."
Of course Exchange is more tightly integrated with Office 97! Microsoft controls all the product offerings involved here and limits the opportunities for anyone else. Look at this the other way around: Does it seem right that outside vendors are provided with limited development interfaces, such as MAPI, that do not expose the full functionality of a product like Exchange, when Microsoft can internally develop and build more tightly integrated products? Whose fault is this, anyway? GroupWise does support MAPI. A few examples are its use in the GroupWise message store, message transport and address book.


GroupWise has no vision for the future. "Novell has not addressed the fundamental architectural issues within the GroupWise code base that lead to the complexity and relatively poor performance of the product."
A bold statement—but false in both assumption and carry-through. What architectural issues? They’re never stated, never backed up. Code complexity has always been a Microsoft problem (isn’t Windows 2000 over 50 million lines of code now?), and efficiency has always been a Novell hallmark. There are no performance problems, and the product is less complex to implement and maintain than Exchange is—primarily because GroupWise doesn’t force administrators to use domains or a parallel network infrastructure (which Exchange does).

Microsoft makes claims for Exchange, of course—it’s to be expected. But be careful at accepting those claims at face value: Some are obviously untrue. For instance, claiming that Exchange 5.5 offers unlimited storage capacity, when no operating system can do this, plays upon what Microsoft supposes is your ignorance in the hopes that you’ll swallow without thinking. Exchange is built on a proprietary Microsoft database—it’s a proprietary solution that supports all the right standards but doesn’t run on anything except NT.

When Microsoft claims that a product—any product—doesn’t meet key customer requirements, the first place you should look is at what Microsoft claims to be the customer requirements. Are they the factors that will make your company compete more effectively in your market? Does the product provide the value you need? Is it open enough to leverage your existing investment? After evaluating your own needs, look to see if those were the issues addressed. If not, keep looking: We’re fairly sure it’s GroupWise you’ll discover to meet your needs. Below are a few of the answers that GroupWise provides to your solution-questions.

GroupWise is the Answer

GroupWise is designed to be the easiest collaboration system in the world. It includes tremendous functionality for the user, with a universal interface for all of the product’s communications and collaboration components. This interface is so intuitive, users are 600% more productive in information sharing (CNI) using GroupWise than through using any other groupware product. If users can send e-mail, they can use GroupWise for calendaring/scheduling, document management, and publishing on the Internet.

For those who implement and administer groupware systems, GroupWise is the easiest possible solution: Everything is in the box, ready to run right out of the box. And GroupWise offers one very critical element you just can’t find anywhere else: It’s directory enabled. The benefits to your administrators translate to significant TCO savings for your organization . . . and turn into dramatic productivity gains for both your users and your administrators. A few things you get with NDS-enabled GroupWise you can’t get from anything else:

Only GroupWise gives you the ability to manage your entire communications/collaboration infrastructure through its unique integration with NDS and the network OS. This union enables GroupWise to perform directory-enabled networking—intelligent networking with one strong security system and a single log-on for users.
Unlike its competitors, GroupWise can be managed in one place, alongside the network and other networking solutions—allowing administrators to maintain the entire messaging system from a single point across the entire enterprise network.
While most groupware solutions run in heterogeneous network environments—with the exception of Exchange, which runs only on NT—only GroupWise brings those environments together for a single point of management through NDS.
Directory-enabled networking makes a significant difference in the ease of client software distribution as well. The Novell Application Launcher (NAL) allows administrators to distribute the GroupWise client to desktops on the network without physically interacting with workstations. NAL centralizes and automates this client distribution, allowing administrators to schedule it for optimum delivery.
GroupWise has made huge strides in capturing groupware marketshare over the last few years, emerging as a primary player in one of the industry’s hottest arenas. Three out of four users who see GroupWise in action purchase it, and market awareness of GroupWise has surpassed that of both Lotus Notes and Microsoft Exchange. The bottom line: GroupWise is a wise investment, offering a full set of collaborative features and access choices while significantly lowering ownership costs incurred through implementation and management. With GroupWise, productivity soars when users—able to use an intuitive interface no matter what they’re doing—are free to concentrate on getting work done.

This direction for the product offers unparalleled flexibility for customers. It gives them the benefit of purchasing only the components that they need, and building systems that provide all of the services that they require. It also allows easy integration and, if desired, coexistence with third-party solutions as well.

The principle goal of GroupWise is to provide access to your information, regardless of your location or the device that you are using. Through the use of NDS, user identities can be stored and accessed from any location. The ability to identify yourself from a browser and perform most all of the functions that you can from your workstation is unique to GroupWise.

As reported by GartnerGroup, GroupWise is 3.5 times less expensive to own than Exchange, and 5 times less expensive than Notes (Cost of Ownership Study). Cost savings such as these also are a direct result of tight integration with NDS. GroupWise is the only collaboration system on the market today that allows you to maintain one directory for both your network and your messaging system.