Novell prepares enterprise social networking suite

Called Pulse, it will link up with Google Wave and let employees collaborate on documents

Novell has unveiled an enterprise social networking suite that is integrated with Google's new Wave application and lets co-workers collaborate on documents.

Called Pulse, the Novell suite will also let employees set up profiles where they can publish information about their areas of expertise and share status updates and other real-time notifications of recent actions with their peers.

Novell, which will give a demo of Pulse on Wednesday at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in San Francisco, expects to launch it in limited beta phase in early 2010. Pulse will be released in general availability in a Web-hosted, SaaS (software-as-a-service) version before the first half of the year, and as on-premise software later on.

Pulse is among a new wave of enterprise collaboration suites that aim to bring features from popular consumer social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to the workplace, with the added security and IT management that organizations require.

Some players in this space include IBM's Lotus, Socialtext, Jive Software and NewsGator, which provides an enterprise social networking component to Microsoft's SharePoint.

"Pulse represents the next generation of collaboration services, which are a concoction of existing collaboration modalities with a web 2.0 sauce on a real-time Web platter," said Gartner analyst Matt Cain via e-mail.

The Novell suite will also be integrated with Wave, a new Google application still in limited release that combines features from e-mail, instant messaging and document collaboration.

Pulse will recognize and enforce access permissions and security policies previously established for end users by IT departments in directories and other such management systems.

The suite will also have what Novell calls a "unified inbox" where messages from a user's various systems will flow into and be consolidated.

Novell has what it calls a more traditional collaboration product called Teaming, which it will continue to market and enhance, said Ken Muir, CTO of Novell's Workgroup Solutions Division, in a phone interview.

Teaming is more focused on providing shared workspaces for users, along with document repositories, wikis, blogs, syndicated feeds and discussion forums, as well as Web and voice conferencing, IM and application sharing, an overall more "static" model than Pulse's, Muir said.

After Pulse comes out in general availability, Novell at some point will review how it may overlap with Teaming, and consider potentially integrating the two products, in order to provide a "seamless" migration for customers, he said. However, that moment is far from imminent, considering Pulse isn't even out in beta yet.

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