Novell Bids Aloha to Open Source Hula Project

Novell has pulled out of theopen source Hula Project, a community development effort that it kicked off early last year to compete with e-mail, calendaring and collaboration solutions such asMicrosoft’s Exchange andIBM’s Domino servers.

Novell encouraged continued development of the Hula server, but its future is uncertain, at best, without the company’s backing. Novell hopes to see the project go forward under community leadership.

Novell’s withdrawal reflects the difficulty organizations confront when changing the software and servers that host their e-mail, calendaring, contacts databases and more.

Even though Hula will not continue under Novell’s auspices, at least some of the work will live on in other applications and platforms,Basex CEO and Chief Analyst Jonathan Spira told LinuxInsider.

“You need constant innovation, and I’m sure the things the developers learned in Hula will carry forward in other platforms,” he said.

Goodbye Grass Skirt

“In the end, we had to conclude that we couldn’t justify investing at the same level in Hula going forward,” wrote Novell’s Peter Teichman on the Hula Project mailing list this week.

Although the Novell team formerly working on Hula will be transferred to other tasks, the company hopes to see Hula continue — as long as someone from the open source community undertakes leadership.

The Hula project, which began in Feb. 2005, needed to set — and meet — ambitious goals in order to justify its existence, according to Spira.

“You always need another mail server if there’s enough innovation and progress behind it,” he said. “Clearly, Hula didn’t hit that bar.”

Hula Lessons

Nevertheless, the development effort behind Hula, which Spira described as sound in principle, will not be lost.

“We need lots more innovation,” he said. “Projects like Hula and others may not succeed, but we learn from them.”

The industry and its vendors are still trying to figure out how knowledge workers work and collaborate.

“I guess Novell decided this particularopen source collaboration project was not part of the overall master plan,” Spira concluded.

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