Novell Data Synchronizer and the Mobility Pack

By Donna Moyer

Editor's Note: This month we are taking a look at a very long-awaited product: Novell's Data Synchronizer and the Mobility Pack for GroupWise. Read on to find out how this new tool can help you provide your end-users with access to their data on-the-go and solve other GroupWise integration issues you may be facing.

One of the main reasons cited by customers moving to Exchange is the lack of ability to integrate GroupWise with other applications. While RIM's BES server for GroupWise and the GroupWise Mobile Server took care of synchronizing GroupWise data with most handheld devices, iPhone support was lacking and third-party tools and services were necessary. Combine that with Nokia's announcement that they were no longer supporting the Mobile Server, and GroupWise administrators were left wondering where Novell's support for GroupWise integration was going.

Enter the Novell Data Synchronizer. When faced with the GMS challenge, Novell decided to take a step back and look at developing a way to synchronize GroupWise data: not only with handheld devices, but with other applications like CRM and team collaboration software. The final result will actually go even further: the Data Synchronizer engine currently synchronizes data from GroupWise to and from those applications, and in the future will allow the synchronization of data from those applications to other applications … without GroupWise in the mix.

If this all sounds suspiciously like Identity Manager, you are correct. While not built on the IDM technology, the design of how the system will work is very similar. The Data Synchronizer engine is the core of the product. Connectors to GroupWise, CRM software (such as Salesforce), and collaboration applications (i.e., Novell Teaming or Microsoft's Sharepoint), and mobile devices are already available. More connectors will be added later, and APIs will be released so that partners and application vendors can write their own connectors for the engine. This is fantastic news for customers who have industry-specific applications from which they need to synch to GroupWise!

But right now, let's focus on GroupWise and handheld support. Here's the scoop: Novell has based the Mobility connector on Microsoft's ActiveSync client since most handheld devices – with the exception of the BlackBerry – come with this client natively. (There is one available for the Blackberry, but it is a paid-for product.) While Novell cannot possibly test every handheld out there, you can be pretty sure that if your device supports the ActiveSync client, it will work with the Mobility connector. And yes, that includes the iPhone! (Synch support for the BlackBerry will be provided by RIM's BES server.) So what can you synch? Email, contacts, and appointments are all able to be bi-directionally synched between GroupWise and your handheld device. So when you add an appointment to your GroupWise calendar, you will see it on your handheld. If you add a contact to your handheld, you will see it in GroupWise. Tasks and notes are on the roadmap for future releases.

How do you get it? Customers with current GroupWise maintenance (this includes all of you with a current ALA or SLA) are entitled to the Mobility Pack, which includes the Data Synchronizer engine, the GroupWise connector, and the Mobility connector. Since the Data Synchronizer and Mobility pack only run on SLES 11, you will also receive enough SLES 11 licenses to run mobility, plus one year of SLES maintenance for those servers. If SLES 11 maintenance is not part of your on-going maintenance contract with Novell, you will need to add it after one year. Support for the Windows server is on the roadmap.

I don't know about all of you, but I am very excited that Novell has finally supplied a tool that will allow us to connect GroupWise to other applications, and provided us with the ability to give our end-users the collaboration tools they need.

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About the Author:
Donna Moyer is Principal/Senior Network Consultant of Uptime NetManagement, Inc. (http://www.uptimenmi.com/). Uptime is a Novell Gold Solutions partner providing technology solutions, customized training, and consulting services. If you are interested in finding out exactly what Novell can do for your business, or are seeking to maximize the benefits from your current Novell systems, call us today at 610-621-1244!