Novell's Vibe enterprise social networking suite debuts

The suite has a variety of social networking features similar to those offered by Facebook and Twitter

Novell has released to worldwide general availability its Web-hosted Vibe Cloud enterprise social collaboration suite, which adapts for workplace use a variety of social networking features made popular in consumer-oriented sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Originally announced in November 2009 and in beta testing since late 2010, Vibe joins an increasingly crowded field of similar enterprise social networking and collaboration suites from vendors like Microsoft, Google, IBM, Cisco, Jive, Socialtext, Yammer, Box.net and others.

Vibe lets employees create individual profiles with the contact and expertise information, as well as with activity streams and notifications of actions, like the posting of comments or the editing of shared documents.

Vibe also features IM chat functionality, groups, blogs, wikis, real-time collaborative editing and file sharing. For IT administrators, it has a central management console for establishing and enforcing security and usage policies and parameters.

Companies interested in Vibe can set up a free, limited account with basic functionality in order to try it out with their employees, and then upgrade to the full-featured enterprise version, which costs US$84 per user per year.

About 15,000 end users in a variety of companies participated in the beta testing period, said Andy Fox, Novell's vice president of products.

While Fox acknowledges that the CIOs and IT managers have many options for enterprise social networking platforms, he trusts that Vibe will be a relevant player not only because of its feature set but also thanks to Novell's established position in enterprise messaging and collaboration with products like GroupWise.

In fact, Novell is busy working to merge the code bases of Vibe Cloud and its older on-premise sibling Vibe OnPrem, previously called Teaming, he said.

Also in the pipeline is compatibility between Vibe Cloud and Microsoft Office, so that files can be exported to and imported from the Microsoft productivity suite, he said.

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