NovaCoast: 1 Million GroupWise Seats Under Management
Conventional wisdom says Novell’s GroupWise email platform faces an uphill battle against Exchange Server. But don’t tell that to NovaCoast. The solution provider has roughly 1 million GroupWise seats under management, according to co-founder and CTO Adam Gray (pictured). And over the next year or two, more than 10 percent of those seats will likely be hosted in NovaCoast’s cloud. Here’s the scoop.
Many Novell partners stumbled and fell when the NetWare empire collapsed in the 1990s. NovaCoast claims to have circumvented such setbacks. The Santa Barbara, Calif.-based solutions provider has offices across the U.S. Some involved organic expansion. Others involved acquisitions.
Today, NovaCoast specializes in a range of Novell offerings, including Identity Management — one of Novell’s key opportunities for growth — and continued investments in GroupWise management for customers. “Our customers aren’t asking to move from GroupWise to Exchange,” insists Adam Gray, CTO and co-founder of NovaCoast. “Instead, they are saying ‘We don’t want to run our email systems anymore. What are our options?’ “
Stick With Us — Online
With that statement in mind, NovaCoast about eight months ago started assisting customers with the shift from on-premises GroupWise to cloud GroupWise. The company avoided the temptation to launch a hosted Exchange business because that market already has a lengthy list of competitors. Plus, it would mean competing head-on with Microsoft’s own BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite) service, which includes Exchange Online.
At present, NovaCoast manages roughly 1 million GroupWise seats — but the vast majority remain on-premises deployments. Gray expects that figure to shift to about 10 percent SaaS over the next 18 months. “That’s a pretty dramatic numer if you think about it,” says Gray.
Also, 40 percent of NovaCoast’s business involves Identity Management, with customers increasingly asking about federation — the coordination of user identities across multiple networks. Of Novell’s recent channel moves, Identity Management seems to be gaining some key backers. Other proponents include Deloitte & Touche.
Longer term, NovaCoast is betting on Novell’s Intelligent Workload Management (IWM) strategy, which includes a range of tools to help customers more fully leverage cloud computing and virtualization.
The VAR Guy concedes: It’s always difficult to judge the success of a VAR without knowing actual revenue and profit margin figures. But Gray certainly sounds upbeat. He applauds Novell’s IWM strategy, and downplays potential risks associated with Novell takeover debates.
You Are Not Alone
Gray says numerous regional VARs continue to profit from Novell solutions — though he concedes Novell hasn’t gained critical mass just yet with managed services providers. (Novell seems to be planning an MSP partner strategy that will surface in the second half of 2010.)
For Novell, the challenge is finding those VARs and promoting them more effectively to the media.