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Novell Vibe 3.3 Offers Seamless Integration with Microsoft Office

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I have been covering Novell for some time (see for example, Novell Teaming Brings Kempinski Hotels into Enterprise 2.0 and Novell GroupWise 2012 Expands its Collaboration Capabilities).  On a recent call I spoke with Tracy Smith, Senior Product Manager, and Julie Jones, Product Marketing Manager about the latest release of Novell Vibe.  Tracy explained that Teaming was rebranded as Vibe, aspects of Pulse were added to it and Pulse is no longer a separate product.  The Vibe offering is an on-premise version, as 99% of their clients are operating on-premise.  Their current strategic direction is to focus on existing Novell customers with GroupWise, Open Enterprise Server and ZENworks and providing increased services to them.

They are offering new releases of Vibe about every six months. Version 3.3 offers integration with Microsoft Office 2007 and 2010 as one of the major enhancements. You can open and save Office documents, including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, using Vibe as the backend server. This integration provides rich additional functionality to Office users.

A Vibe dashboard can now be added to Office apps that brings in Vibe features such as version tracking and history. You can add notes and easily go back to earlier versions of documents in case the new version has mistakes or goes in directions you do not want. All modifications are versioned. There is also an activity stream, “What’s New,” so that if you are in Vibe, you get updated of any changes to documents that you have access to. These features help people work on documents together since a live comment stream aids discussion and decisions about content; each user can edit a file and be notified when another person’s edits are available to preview and merge; and the group can see document history and compare versions.

You can also make use of the metadata within Office.  For example, you can see the social profile in Vibe of the document owner or any contributor, as well anyone who provides input on a comment thread. The comment stream is accessible to everyone working on the document or connected to it.  You can also lock down a document if you want to prevent further changes.

The latest release of Novell Vibe also includes Vibe Desktop, which enables users to easily access and sync files offline. Users simply download Vibe Desktop and can then connect and sync any folders and files from their Novell Vibe system to their desktop. They can then access these files offline, with any changes automatically syncing between their desktop and Vibe once they are back online. The Vibe Desktop is available for Windows now with a Mac version coming in the next few weeks.

People often adopt social tools at different rates. The flexibility to work in Office with Vibe features or directly in Vibe allows those who want the comfort of familiar tools to stay within them. While Novell Vibe 3.3 is independent, it works with any standard email system. It includes tight integrations with Novell GroupWise 2012, giving users access and interaction across Vibe and GroupWise content from one place, bridging the gap between personal and team productivity to make people more efficient throughout their work day. They have also upgraded their mobile UI and added apps for Android and iPhone to simplify access.

Another feature is the ability to dynamically create groups based on LDAP directories. There are also workflow improvements and they have simplified the template to better work with tablets such as the iPad. Now you can more easily see functions like your calendar and tasks.Novell has added a table of contents to their wiki.  The release policy is to not require customers to upgrade with each new release, as all releases within a major version, such as the 3.0 series, are compatible.

I think these are all good moves. Integration is an increasing theme and is certainly necessary to make the enterprise social. The new social tools need to connect to the traditional enterprise and productivity tools such as Office if real work is to be accomplished (see Integrating the Interactions with the Transactions). I look forward to seeing the ongoing evolution of Vibe.

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