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Novell Debuts Enterprise Vibe Cloud Collaboration

The social media product combines activity streams and ad hoc collaboration with file sharing and group editing capabilities.

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Novell introduced an Enterprise Edition of its Novell Vibe Cloud social collaboration product Tuesday, as Vibe ended its beta test phase.

Novell Vibe Cloud is an enterprise social media product that combines activity streams and ad hoc collaboration with file sharing and group editing capabilities. While the beta test is over, a Basic Edition product will remain available for free and essentially provides all the same collaborative capabilities on a single-user model, with a 250 megabyte limit on file storage. Upgrading to the Enterprise Edition ($84 per user per year) buys an organization more administrative control, integration with enterprise directory services, and unlimited collaboration groups.

While plenty of cloud services offer some variation on this "freemium" model, "we're fairly unique in being enterprise freemium," Andy Fox , Novell vice president of product management, said in an interview. "Our presumption is that we will attract enough enterprise users to make this work, while at the same time providing a really low-friction way of getting users to try it." This model also makes it easier to support collaboration between companies without requiring all participants to purchase the product.

Novell figures some small organizations might be perfectly happy with the basic edition, but enterprises will tend to upgrade fairly quickly so they can import accounts from their corporate directory and impose security controls on who can create or modify groups.

As part of its "enterprise social getworking" program, Novell is also offering free consulting and free licenses to up to 10 companies that come up with the most interesting proposals for what they would like to do with the technology.

Known in an earlier incarnation as Novell Pulse, the product was at one time promoted as an enterprise equivalent to Google Wave -- back when that was supposed to be the next big thing. After Google stopped development of Wave in August 2010, Novell rebranded, launching an public beta of Google Vibe Cloud in November at the Enterprise 2.0 conference.

While Novell may have suffered from its association with Wave, it also benefited from working with Google on open standards for collaborative editing of documents and federation of accounts across collaboration systems, Fox said. "We took the good ideas we worked on with Google and kept them in the product," he said, but Novell's concept was always different and more enterprise focused.

Fox said Vibe Cloud is particularly suited for ad hoc collaboration and group messaging, with spontaneous formation of groups to discuss issues and work together on documents. Unified collaboration capabilities to integrate voice and video calls and conferencing are on the product roadmap, but would be addressed through partnerships since Novell does not have products in those categories, he said.

Novell also markets an enterprise collaboration product as Vibe On Prem, but this is actually a distinct software product, previously known as Teaming. Novell's development roadmap calls for the products to converge on features over time because the types of collaboration they aim to support are similar.

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