Tag Archive: companionlink

the Groupwise to Google experiment (part 3)

As I’ve described in two previous posts on my efforts to use Google rather than Groupwise for work e-mail and calendaring (1 & 2), as a connection point for my Android phone, I have run into a lot of interesting behaviors.  I’ve had challenges and successes.

Right now, I have Groupwise set up to straight forward all incoming e-mail to Google.  I set up a separate google account just for work, and use the web interface to work with my calendar, etc.  I keep things separate from my personal Google account simply by running the work stuff in one browser and my personal stuff in another one.  Different browser apps, different cookies, no conflicts.

Even this basic forwarding has had problems.  I’m still not 100% confident that when an e-mail comes into Groupwise, it is forwarded right away to Google.  Most of my uncertainty can be tied to a power outage about a week ago, which caused a whole lot of problems.  But there was at least one other instance when I just stopped getting e-mail for a few hours.  Then suddenly everything from a 1.5 hour period came at once.  As a result, I set up an IMAP connection to my Groupwise account so that I can double check there.  Kind of defeats the purpose.

As for Companionlink for synchronization, I am now dead set against it as a recommended solution because it is not an enterprise-level product.  I knew that going in, of course, but if someone at the school were to ask what smartphone to get, I’d say “Blackberry” in a second (we have an Enterprise Server on campus).  Also, it has some quirks.  For instance, if I set up a repeating event in Google, only the first one shows up in Groupwise (this happened with another Groupwise calendar-only synchronization software package, too, so it might be a GW thing).  Also, while invitations to meetings do show up in Google, I only get an option to add it to my calendar.  Not to actually respond to it.  I know I tested this before and I had “yes,” “no,” and “maybe” as options, which was nice (maybe allowed me to have it show up as declined but still visible on my calendar).  I can’t figure out why it’s not working.

So I do a all of my meeting proposals in GW.  I often accept meetings there, too.

In the end…it’s a tough call.  I miss a lot of the functionality of the blackberry and might even go back to it as new versions come out.  But right now the benefits of the Android phone (the HTC EVO 4G in this case, but it could be any one) outweigh things overall.  Many of my core apps exist on the Blackberry OS, but are not nearly as easy to use.  For instance, I can view an excel sheet on my large 4.3″ screen and actually see the important information without losing view of every other cell.  Things scale well when I zoom in.  I can’t do that on the smaller Blackberry screens.

Ah.  Technology…

I have instructed my staff to recommend Blackberry units without hesitation.  We have the Android units only so that we can play with alternative smartphones.  We already know how to set up a Blackberry account in about 10 minutes, but this is the first extensive testing with something else.

the Groupwise to Google experiment (part 2)

So back in part 1 of this experiment, which was quite a while ago, my goal was to see whether I could effectively use Google mail, calendar and contacts as a direct replacement for Novell Groupwise, which we use at Santa Clara.  “Effectively” doesn’t mean that all of a sudden all of my e-mails come from gmail.com.  After all, if I work for SCU, and I intend to represent myself as an employee of SCU, I need to have an scu.edu address.

Fortunately, Google mail has the ability to send e-mails as if it were a different address (not just reply-to, but actually with the header and “from” of name@scu.edu).  Now, you may say “but Allan, that’s basically spoofing or faking someone else’s e-mail address.  Won’t that get caught in spam filters?”

If all Google offered was the ability to change the “from” field then most likely yes, it would get filtered like crazy.  All of my e-mails ending up in spam filters would not be an effectively switch to a different service.  However, I am able to use SCU’s outgoing mail server for the messages.  So Google mail is doing the composition, but once it tries to send, it’s actually talking to and sending from the scu.edu mail server.  Which means it now looks like and comes from the same place.  Not sure if that makes sense, but the bottom line is that spam filters will leave me alone.

Many of my colleagues use Google mail because, in all honesty, they don’t like Groupwise.  However, since I am a Blackberry user and the university has set up a Blackberry Enterprise Server that talks back and forth with the Groupwise servers, I actually didn’t mind at all.  My mobile device and desktop clients all talked to each other very efficiently.

That all changes if I stop using a blackberry unit.  As good as they are, and as good as the current version of the Blackberry OS is (which is a lot better and prettier than the one on my 2.5 year old unit, btw), I have found myself wanting many of the features that are offered by various other smartphones, such as an iPhone or an Android phone.

For instance – I have an HTC Incredible from Verizon as my personal phone.  The other day, while trying to finish off the little details of our inventory, I was walking around, viewing our inventory spreadsheet on the nice big, bright screen on my phone, which has retrieved that spreadsheet via its Dropbox application.  This was so much more efficient than anything I could do on the smaller screen of my Blackberry.

Thus…I have ordered the new EVO 4G from Sprint (SCU has a contract with them).  This means that if I want to use the new, Android phone for my mail, calendar, etc, I need to get everything moved over from Groupwise.  So it’s not about dislike for Groupwise so much as a need for something that will work with the new phone.

Anyway – I have most things set up.

  • Setup a Groupwise rule that will simply forward all incoming mail to a Google mail account
  • Have already worked with the labels in Google to see how well I can manage such e-mail all flying in (since Google mail doesn’t have folders, this is an important step).
  • Using Companionlink, running on my home computer (which stays on most of the time), to synchronize my calendar, tasks, and contacts with Google
  • Verified that meetings proposed by Groupwise to me and ones that I propose from Google work (way to go, iCal standard)

Once the phone arrives, I just log into the created Google account and I should be set.

This should be interesting.  Though I figure this post is pretty boring…

the GroupWise to Google Experiment (Part 1)

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.”