Novell Buys Online Workspace Provider SiteScape
Collaborative online workspaces for business people—a fringe concept just a couple of years ago—is now a hotly contested market, with WebEx launching WebOffice, Adobe’s Acrobat gaining Web conferencing features, Yahoo integrating Zimbra, and Microsoft pushing Office Groove (the legacy of its 2005 acquisition of Beverly, MA-based Groove Networks). And that’s just the beginning of the list. Now Waltham, MA-based Novell is solidifying its own presence in presence, so to speak. The business infrastructure software provider announced that it’s acquiring Maynard, MA-based SiteScape, which makes an office collaboration suite called SiteScape Forum and an open-source Web conferencing platform called ICEcore.
The basic concept behind all of the collaborative workspace platforms is the same, although the list of components differs from product to product. Most combine a range of disparate tools that office workers tend to use anyway— e-mail, instant messaging, message boards, shared calendars, secure document sharing with version control, and live multimedia Web meetings—into a single package accessible via either a downloadable client program or a Web browser. Some, like SiteScape Forum, add additional features borrowed from the Web social-networking world, such as wikis and blogs.
Increasingly, providers of business-communications and productivity software feel they must offer all of these real-time collaboration features to stay competitive. Novell formed a partnership with SiteScape last year, using its open-source ICEcore platform to create a workspace service called Novell Teaming + Conferencing that complemented the company’s existing GroupWise product. Given that partnership, plus Novell’s heavy investment over the last several years in other open-source systems such as SUSE Linux, the prospect of owning the ICEcore code base made SiteScape into a logical acquisition target.
At least, so says Ron Hovsepian, Novell’s president and CEO, in the press release announcing the purchase, the financial details of which were not disclosed. “The acquisition of SiteScape fits squarely into the corporate strategy we have laid out,” Hovsepian said. “It extends our leadership in promoting open source in the enterprise market and is a key technology addition in an area where we see great growth potential. Most importantly, it allows us to move aggressively to give customers a new, open option for collaboration, helping them escape vendor lock-in and offering easy integration across platforms, whether Linux or Windows.”