Novell’s latest collaboration offering, Pulse, provides a real-time collaboration environment for the enterprise that brings authoring, communication and social messaging together in a single secure solution. Built to work alone or in concert with existing collaboration tools, Novell Pulse uses the Google Wave Federation Protocol to allow seamless integration with other co-editing and collaboration tools, such as Google Wave, as well as new extensions that third parties can build on top of the Novell Pulse platform. It draws on instant messaging, document sharing, social connections, real-time co-editing and enterprise controls.
Recently I spoke with Andy Fox, the VP of Engineering at Novell and Wendy Steinle, Director of Marketing for Novell Pulse about what Pulse brings to enterprise 2.0. I have been intrigued with Google Wave (see My Notes and Thoughts on Google Wave Video Demo). The Google Wave Federation Protocol allows any organization to build their own wave service that can interoperate with all other Wave providers, including Google. By adopting the Google Wave Federation Protocol, Novell Pulse will let users collaborate across systems, in real-time on a character by character basis.
Key features of Pulse include granular policy-driven controls at the person, group and organization levels. Collaborative editing and document sharing enable users to get work done with other users in real-time, from co-editable online documents to the ability to share, view and comment on traditional office documents in real time. Andy showed me an example of this. A single interface allows users to see, sort, filter and send direct messages, blog postings and group feeds from one place. Document presence shows users in this single in-box when their colleagues are visiting, editing or commenting on a document or message.
I asked Andy about microblogging and he said they have merged blogging and microblogging by allowing messages to start small but expand beyond the usual limits imposed on microblogging. He mentioned that many business messages often relate to documents and need to go beyond tweets. This flexible blogging capability allows users to share, follow and comment on topics and ideas. You can engage in real time chat around documents or images. Unlike IM, these conversations are archived and become searchable. Messages are seen by your followers and can be directed at individuals and groups.
The ease of use and ad hoc nature opens up some interesting use cases. For example, a manager can ask for her staff’s travel budgets. Instead of the siloed email option, the conversations can occur real time and in a transparent format. While this open exchange can occur in a wiki, it is more difficult to set up and does not operate in real time.
In another example, document co-creation becomes simpler. It operates real time like Google Wave. The comments and brainstorming can be easily incorporated on a character by character basis. Collaborative meeting notes can operate in the same manner.
A suggestion system in Pulse allows users to recommend people and groups. There are also customizable personal and group profiles with added fields, sections, tables of content and gadgets. You can visit profiles to connect with other users or groups that a person is following or who are following that user or group.
Novell Pulse integrates with both Novell Teaming (see Novell Teaming 2 Brings a Richer Collaboration Feature Set) and Novell GroupWise (see Novell GroupWise 8 Brings Enterprise 2.0 Capability to Personal Productivity Functions). It is currently being used by over 4,000 customers in a pre-beta format. Pulse is planned for a release later this year. I think it brings a number of innovations to enterprise collaboration and look forward to its release.