Micro Focus Collaboration: The Road Ahead

by Wes Heaps and Mike Bills

For those familiar with the Micro Focus collaboration portfolio—there’s been a great deal of activity in the last year.  There were two great releases of Micro Focus GroupWise:  GroupWise 2014 R2 and GroupWise 2014 R2 SP1.  Earlier in the the year a minor update with some new features was released for Micro Focus Vibe as well:  Vibe 4.0.1.  While it’s been a productive year so far, what does the future hold for the Micro Focus collaboration portfolio?  Does it have a clear, solid roadmap and vision?  Is it important to Micro Focus as a business? Do they intend to continue to develop and expand in this area? If you’ve been wondering about these questions, read on.  There are exciting developments coming!

The Micro Focus Collaboration Vision

There’s little doubt the nature of business communication is constantly changing.  It’s now more mobile, more instant, and more dynamic than it’s ever been.  At the same time, increased regulatory pressures demand we keep careful records of business communications—even those that are largely ephemeral like instant messages.  To that end, Micro Focus’s collaborative vision is to provide unified instant and persistent exchange of messages, including relevant files and communication history, to enhance team collaboration.

  • Unified. Going to separate administrative consoles to try to manage different forms of communication is time consuming.  Having a single platform that could manage email, calendars, instant messages, and other developing forms of communication such enterprise social networking would be ideal.  Our vision is to do exactly that—unify business communication and collaboration into cohesive experience for both the administrator and the end-user.
  • Instant and Persistent. Whether you’re getting an “in the moment” communication like an instant message or something more formal and persistent like an email with an attachment—both forms of communication are needed in today’s business world.  As people move from desktops to mobile devices—these types of instant and persistent messages need to follow them from device to device in a unified and coherent manner.
  • Relevant files. Attachments are all the rage—and the headache of anyone trying to manage their communication storage.  Not only does the endless emailing of the same attachment eat up your storage—but it also leads to versioning problems as documents are altered and emailed again.  Surely there must be better ways to manage this in such a way that it’s transparent and seamless to the end-user—and easy for the administrator.
  • Communication History.  Archiving and restoration of all forms of your business communication regardless of device or platform used is no longer a luxury—it’s becoming the law in many areas of the globe.  As such regulatory pressures increase—you need to ways to easily preserve, search, and recover all such messages.

The GWAVA Acquisition - Growth Today

If you’ve been paying attention to Micro Focus, you’ve probably heard some exciting news.  Micro Focus has acquired GWAVA, Inc., a worldwide leader in Enterprise Information Archiving (EIA).  In addition to GWAVA’s award winning EIA product Retain, GWAVA has a full suite of products to protect, optimise, secure and ensure compliance for customers running Micro Focus GroupWise.

“Micro Focus has continuously made acquisitions that have allowed it to further develop its customer value proposition and extend its product portfolio,” said Micro Focus CEO, Stephen Murdoch. “Today’s organizations need to maximize the value of their existing IT infrastructure, while still embracing the opportunities presented by new technology so they can innovate faster with the lowest possible risk.

“The acquisition of GWAVA serves both purposes of protecting and further expanding value to our loyal customers, while adding leadership in the growth market of Enterprise Information Archiving.”

What this acquisition will mean in regards to the future roadmap of the Micro Focus collaboration portfolio and the GWAVA portfolio is being worked on, but this is great news for both customer bases.

Vibe 4.0.2

This latest version of Vibe came out just a few weeks ago. It features Micro Focus branding—a clear demonstration that Vibe has a home in Micro Focus portfolio—along with improved custom JSP support and other quality improvements.

GroupWise Mobility Service 2014 R2 SP1

Also released in the same time frame as Vibe 4.0.2 was the latest release of GroupWise Mobility Service.  This new version featured some highly requested functionality, namely shared folders, contacts, and calendars on mobile devices.

These features were all requested through our IDEAS portal, a handy way you can suggest and vote for features you’d like to see in the GroupWise products.  Additionally, we removed the YAST dependencies for installation and added SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 support.

The Future: A New Version Of GroupWise In 2017

Yes - there’s a new version of GroupWise on the horizon.  While the exact product name has still to be finalised, we’ve code-named the platform Wasatch.  If you’re wondering about the code-name, you’re not alone.  Wasatch is the name of a mountain range in Utah.  Mike Bills, the Product Line Manager for the collaboration portfolio, explained that “mountain ranges have a series of peaks that progressively create an entire scenic experience.  The Wasatch platform will introduce a series of peaks - releases - that will bring the various components of the GroupWise platform forward into a fully integrated team collaboration experience”.

Furthering the vision of Unified—you can expect some changes in the administration of GroupWise Messenger.  Namely - all administration of the Wasatch platform will done progressively through a common interface.  This will start with Messenger and eventually extend to Mobility Service.

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Figure 1: GroupWise 2017, the Wasatch platform

Speaking of GroupWise Mobility Service—there is a planned update to that inside the Wasatch platform as well.  The next version of Mobility Service will include anti-malware integration, the ability to set vacation rules from your mobile device, improved calendar functions, and other requests that come in through the IDEAS portal.

Team collaboration will be a central theme for Wasatch.  In order to enhance collaboration, we are tackling email threading.  Everyone is probably familiar with traditional threading views in email.   While threads can be beneficial to see the flow of the conversation, many threading solutions still leave you with dozens of emails to sift through.

Our vision of Social Threading will help eliminate that.  Imagine all of the replies to a conversation in GroupWise being rolled up into a single email message.   It’s like having a window into the entire conversation.  You can see the entire conversation and if you add someone to the conversation they have access to the conversation history.  And if you happen to be reading the conversation while someone adds to it, the entire conversation instantly updates to include the new information. Below is a screen shot of the work being done on social threading taken right from Wasatch!

You can see (figure 2) that these are multiple messages rolled up into one.  It’s linear, threaded, instant, and persistent.  We are really excited to finish this feature and ship it to you to improve how your entire business collaborates with each other.

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Figure 2: Message threading in GroupWise 2017

All in all, the Wasatch platform will significantly push the entire Micro Focus collaborative vision forward (figure 3).  However, it’s not the only project happening in this portfolio next year.

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Figure 3: GroupWise 2017 priorities

Expanding the Frontier:  Uinta

If you’ve been following the trends in business communication—some of the newest developments are around “enterprise social networking” or “social business collaboration”.   It’s the attempt to create collaborative “conversations” around relevant business topics in the way people communicate with each other on popular social networking platforms.  Being added to a “conversation” or “room” gives you instant access to a threaded conversation and all relevant files and information in the natural way conversations happen in groups.

It’s very dynamic and collaborative—and will complement the more formal nature of email while facilitating a more dynamic and organic way to engage in collaborative business communication.

Enter the Micro Focus Uinta platform.  Like Wasatch, it is also named after another mountain range in Utah.  Uinta will contain a series of peaks or releases—the first of which should hit sometime in 2017.

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Figure 4: The Uinta proposition

Uinta allows us to bring the instant and persistent elements of team collaboration together.  We envision doing this by embracing email and making it a part of the solution, and not the problem to be solved.  Uinta will be a new offering in the collaboration platform that will be tightly integrated with GroupWise for desktop access, yet also allow access from the web and mobile devices.

Uinta looks to maximise team productivity with dedicated team and project rooms.  Users will decide on how they want to participate in these rooms, from GroupWise directly, through a web browser, or even from mobile apps.

Teams in Uinta will be able to share content, have conversations, and collaborate on documents in a natural, flowing way you’ve come to expect from the social networking world.

We also want to expand and enhance your online presence beyond the typical states seen in many IM platforms. In Uinta, you will be able to see who is in what “room“ and even what they are doing in that room—such as editing a document, engaging in a conversation, or participating in meeting.

Of course, the advanced archiving and restoration capabilities of the GWAVA products also means that retaining these dynamic, social conversations and being able to do discovery on them for governance purposes will be possible. Even highly regulated industries will be able to implement both the Wasatch and Uinta platforms.

While the exact look and feel of the Uinta platform isn’t determined yet, the initial wireframes are quite exciting (figure 5). The final product may look different, of course—but all of the important features we’ve discussed will definitely make it into the series of peak releases.

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Figure 5: The Uinta interface

Conclusion

The future is looking bright for the Micro Focus collaboration vision and strategy.  Clearly, Micro Focus is interested and investing in this portfolio.  The acquisition of GWAVA adds exciting new possibilities for the entire Micro Focus portfolio and demonstrates our commitment to providing you increased value for your existing Micro Focus investments.  There are new and exciting Micro Focus collaboration products coming out—along with important updates to products you already know and love.  All in all, it looks like 2017 is shaping up to be an exciting year!

 

This article was first published in OHM35, 2016/4, p33-36

2 Comments
  1. Mike Bills

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