Monday, March 07, 2011

Evolution (And Groupwise) No More?

Just typing those words reminds me of the classic comic book frame from the late 1960s:



Sadly, this week one of my projects is to create a list of ideas and alternatives for moving off of Evolution and possibly Groupwise. Both of those products are under support contracts, and after many years of tugging they are perpetually staying at a grade of "B-" for enterprise users. Patches are slow in coming and require constant pinging by our staff to get them moving. And we are having problems with regressions. I think that sometimes companies remember the old days when patches and upgrades would come in 1 or 2 year cycles, and just have not adapted well to Internet time and how to turn open source software into a positive. There are people out here that would gladly download and test upgrades that come from a build service; which would eliminate the issue of regressions and running a "one of" type build as it is now. One really expects better service when paying 25K+ a year.

So I'm going to review the current status of the web interface to Groupwise (bad) and then the Java Groupwise client (worse, SLOW, leaks memory). One idea that I'm going to test is running the Java client locally on the thin client as a way to get around the fact that this software is impossible to scale and run on a multi-user server because of how badly it leaks memory.

There is a strong trend now to just farm out email and put into the cloud and be done with it. One would think that this would put email vendors on their toes and increase the quality of their products, right? In many ways I'm running out of arguments to counter this trend.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

I tried for years, switched to Google Apps a few months ago and everyone is MUCH happier and its less boring work for me. I strongly recommend it.

Anonymous said...

Moving everything out to the web is the way to go.

The UI of all classic groupwares I know is a mess.

We are also simply using googles apps. We are just a few people. Managing a own instance just for us doesn't pay off.

The only thing I absolutely miss are thin and separated clients for the gnome desktop with different backends like calendars, a central contact repository and a email client without the unrelated crap I listed above.

I really wonder why people are still using those blown up tools.

adamwill said...

I'm still an Evolution apologist, but at a recent FUDCon I couldn't use it due to port blockage on the WLAN so I had to use my webmail setup for the entire weekend. I actually found it could do just about everything just about as well as Evolution; the only thing that was slightly frustrating was searching for old messages. (I use Roundcube for webmail).

Like second anon says, there seems to be a glut of gigantic, complex, buggy integrate-everything-and-the-kitchen-sync 'groupware systems' and a distinct lack of a simple todo + calendar + addressbook server which doesn't take three weeks to get running.

Smooge said...

Groupware has had a lot of kitchen sink because in the end what people would pay for was always something not yet implemented. At previous work places I would see that X or Y or Z tool would be passed over because it didn't have contact management, file storage, group meetings, calender, etc etc and was affordable. So you end up with various parts grafted onto the tool trying to make it into a swiss army knife but ending up with a useless mess instead.

pel said...

Well, unfortunately moving data into the cloud is not for everyone. Some are required by law or stock holders to have a tight grip on their information. Sometimes we cannot even outsource operations.

We have to try to get by using the alternatives. They all suck - mainly because they fail to do one thing and to do it well. I *love* integration, but honestly it comes second to a tool that actually works as intended!

Unfortunately this is something neither CEOs or Commercial/Open source vendors tend to understand (or have patience to wait for). The end result tend to be monolithic gargantuan piles of crap with some fringe functionality duct taped to it to show that it is "modular". This in turn makes maintenance or development of the system a good alternative for people who feel that they are not quite as unhappy as they could be yet.

Oh $DEITY, I hate GMail and it's user friendly, intuitive, WORKING and usable interface. It makes everything else look so bad! I (almost) hope it is a royal pain in the a** to maintain!

Anonymous said...

I would suggest looking at SOGo (http://www.sogo.nu/english.html) and thunderbird.

Its not perfect, but you get the full calendar/mail/task integration on your desktop/webmail/cell phone.

Sankar said...

Hi Dave,

This makes me sad. I wish there is something I could do :(

Anonymous said...

Maybe you want to try Microsoft's Exchange? Working like a charm for me, and the webinterface is much like Outlook.

Aidan Delaney said...

I use Zarafa (http://zarafa.com/) at home for my 3 person mail/calendar/todo sharing. It's straightforward, supports IMAP, POP and (from the docs, not experience) push-email and MAPI.

So I still use Evolution->IMAP->Zarafa on the desktop. But I have the web interface to Zarafa should I want it.

The Wikipedia page Free Groupware (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Free_groupware) contains a reasonably complete list of things you may wish to evaluate.

Dima said...

We use openxchange at work. Ok, but still a huge PITA. I'd go with imap+smtp+caldav+ldap. But in modern company you need mobile sync and web access. This prety much reduces to google apps.

jospoortvliet said...

had a look at http://kolabsys.com/ ? Based on Kolab, the most mature open source groupware solution, clients for Maemo/Windows Mobile 6.5/Win/Mac are currently done; there is a web interface and Android & iPhone will probably come one day too. Especially if you can trow money at kolabsys ;-)

Peter said...

I would look at Zimbra, Zarafa, and Scalix. They seem to be the three most complete solutions that run on Linux; all support ActiveSync and Blackberry Enterprise Server for mobile devices and IMAP, SMTP, LDAP, and CalDAV for standards based access.

Anonymous said...

Which GroupWise are you running?

I've just implemented GroupWise 2012. It's pretty good and the inclusion of Datasync Mobility Pack makes smart phone users very happy. It is both familiar and improved.

It's not without issues though. There are still days that I wonder if I shouldn't have gone with Exchange 2010.

Third party application integration and administration overhead have been the only real causes for concern.