Novell adds imaging technology to GroupWise 5

Novell Inc. said last month that it will provide imaging technology with the new version of its GroupWise software package joining other groupware vendors who are adding scanning and image-viewing features to their offerings.

The company said GroupWise 5 will incorporate technology from Xerox Desktop Document Management Systems and WhetStone Technologies that will enable users to capture scanned images retrieve images from existing databases and incorporate these into an automated workflow process among other capabilities. Novell envisions the product called GroupWise Imaging as the front end to large-scale "production" imaging applications as well as for casual desktop image viewing.

"It actually can provide a solution to both environments " said Mark Ward product manager in Novell's groupware division. "We are soliciting third-party imaging vendors to write their production imaging requirements to GroupWise Imaging."

Another Feature

"The way [Novell wants] to compete is based on features so imaging is another feature " said Bruce Silver principal with Bruce Silver Associates Weston Mass.

Federal users of Lotus Development Corp.'s Notes and Microsoft Corp.'s Exchange already have access to imaging capabilities. In June Lotus shipped a version of its imaging product Lotus Notes: Document Imaging that enables Notes users to manage images as they do other file formats. Microsoft has provided an image viewer from Wang in its Windows 95 operating system.

Shaping the Mind-Set

Scott McCready an analyst with International Data Corp. said Novell is "really competing for users' mind share" because organizations tend to want to adopt standard client applications for accessing images on the desktop even if they use many different systems to produce them. He said Novell would be "fairly positioned" to compete with Lotus and its parent IBM Corp. but offices that have adopted Microsoft's office automation applications might be more likely to use Microsoft's imaging technology as well.

"Unless they come up with some very creative marketing strategies it's going to be a tough row to hoe " he said but "the market opportunity is there."

Ward said GroupWise Imaging would be distributed free to users who purchase GroupWise 5 which is expected to be released in October.

GroupWise Imaging incorporates optical character recognition and image-enhancement software from Xerox as well as an image viewer from WhetStone. It is designed to support standard and some proprietary file formats as well as standard document management workflow and messaging application programming interfaces.

Novell's largest customers for GroupWise include the Justice Department the FBI and the Air Force. The Navy and the National Archives and Records Administration also are users and according to information provided by Novell there are small installations in most federal agencies.

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