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Novell Turns ICE Into Kablink

Some names just aren't "cool" enough for open source. Case in point: Novell's ICEcore collaboration project, which is now known as Kablink.

The newly-renamed project is being expanded with workflow capabilities that Novell hopes will expand business usage.

The Kablink project is Novell's effort to grow the market for open source collaboration solutions, and chip away at the hold that Microsoft's Sharepoint commands among small business users.

"With the addition of workflow, which is such a major piece of functionality, we wanted to have an exciting name to go with it," Brent McConnell, project leader at Kablink told InternetNews.com. "And we didn't feel that ICEcore had that excitement or dynamic nature that we wanted the project to convey so we're changing the name."

Novell acquired the ICEcore project as part of the acquisition of vendor SiteScape in February of this year. While the ICEcore project (now Kablink) is open source, it serves as the basis for Novell's Teaming + Conferencing commercial solution. McConnell explained that the new workflow code actually came from the Teaming server project as a code donation.

McConnell noted, however, that usually the way the Kablink relationship with the commercial Teaming + Conferencing solution works is that Kablink is the foundation of the commercial product. Novell takes the Kablink development tree and adds some additional enterprise features such as backup and recovery.

"We have a system inside of Kablink that allows developers to create business objects and these business objects model data," McConnell explained. "Then with the model of the data you can pass it views for forms and displaying the business model. So you can model a business object and then add collaboration items for that object."

With the Kablink release, workflow capability is being added to the ICEcore collaboration features. A business user can now create a business workflow for a process -- be it approval, development or otherwise and attach that workflow to the business objects.

"We think our offering is unique; there are point solutions that have workflow embedded in them but the kind of social networking collaboration that we do, I don't know anyone that has a workflow component that can do the things that we can," McConnell claimed. "There are customers that have designed ISO 9000 processes with this, so it's a nifty thing to have, especially in an open source project."

On a broader scale, Novell is hopeful that Kablink will also widen open source adoption in the collaboration marketspace overall.

"I could see us hopefully taking some [Microsoft] Sharepoint market share and migrate it to an open source community," McConnell said. "We want to get involved in user groups and small companies that are dabbling in collaboration and haven't made up their mind yet."

McConnell argued that a key thing that Novell brings with Kablink is the fact that as an organization grows its usage, they could pick up maintenance and support which is a key factor.

"I've been in open source a long time and you just don't see a tone of companies running open source solutions that aren't supported by somebody," McConnell said. "What we want to do is gain market share in areas where people are comfortable working with an open source solution and it fits their budget."

Though open source is not a new thing at this point and is popular among enterprises, McConnell commented that there are still a lot of people that don't understand open source and are confused by its terms of usage.

"I think one of the most important things we can do is showcase the business value that we bring to our users," McConnell said. "Then help them through education to understand that open source really is ok to use and there are things you have to abide by but that's the same with a commercial license as well."