So the university at which I work uses Novell’s suite of applications for e-mail, calendaring, systems management, and storage. For a while now, I have been contemplating how to stop using the GroupWise (e-mail and calendar) client, which is terrible on a Mac, and move to a different set of tools. At the same time, I have been seeking a bit more freedom with my choice of phones…
GroupWise is not very integration friendly. Yes, I can IMAP into the mail server, but that’s just mail. If I want calendars, the ability to propose meetings, etc, then the best solution on campus is to use a blackberry connected via the Blackberry Enterprise Server IT has hooked into GroupWise. This is a very nice integration – e-mails come very fast, calendar changes are pretty smooth (though sometimes I run into problems with recurring meetings) and the address book synchronization is great.
However, I won’t lie and say that I wouldn’t mind a phone that gave me a big touch screen rather than the traditional thumb-punching keyboard (and no, I am not interested in a Storm). So I have been looking at Android smart phones (ATT coverage is very bad here, so I have not seriously considered the iPhone).
So, how do I get GroupWise e-mail, calendar, tasks, and contacts all into an Android phone? Well, that’s why this is called the “GroupWise to Google Experiment.”
My goal is to push everything to Google, then use an Android phone’s native hooks into Google as a way to go back and forth. The various tools – particularly Google Mail – already supports the ability to make it “appear” as if an e-mail is coming from scu.edu rather than gmail.com, so I don’t compromise my own business “presence” with a non-scu.edu address.
This weekend and at least the next few days cover my first test. So far, I have everything that goes to GroupWise also going to Google Mail. I have the latter configured so that it all looks like it’s coming from scu.edu. I am currently checking e-mail using Google Mail and have already made use of its robust search capabilities (another big problem on the Mac GroupWise client).
I have also used software called CompanionLink that does a two-way synchronization of GroupWise data with a number of other products, including Google. I have it set to run manually so far in case I mess something up, but it populated my Google calendar very nicely so far, and also reconciled, for the most part, my address book. I got a few duplicates in the latter but nothing I can’t clean up.
I have also confirmed that if someone sends me an appointment request, it is in the proper iCal format which, when forwarded around to Google, can go into my Google calendar just fine. Google even sends an e-mail response saying if I’m going to attend or not.
And since CompanionLink also pulls data from Google back down to GroupWise, a meeting request I accept in Google will go back down to GroupWise, keeping my SCU calendar accurate.
The biggest problem so far is that CompanionLink is a separate piece of software that I have to set to run every X number of minutes. It’s a lot less finicky than Intellisync has been for us but it’s still not enterprise-level, which is frustrating.
We’ll see how today and tomorrow go, though. I still have to test out sending a meeting request from Google…