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The upgrade-protection blues

Jan 22, 20043 mins
Enterprise Applications

* What do you get for your "upgrade protection"?

Last week I talked about the new Nterprise Branch Office offering from Novell. No sooner was the newsletter in your in-box than one longtime reader dashed off a note to tell me about a problem he was having concerning NBO 2.

Let’s call this reader “Jim” (not his real name). Jim wanted to tell me about a client of his. According to Jim, “My customer purchased NetWare 6.5 with upgrade protection.  We were specifically interested as to whether or not the upgrade protection applied to the bundled NBO v1.02.” Jim asked the distributor, a Novell marketing person and Novell’s licensing people whether NBO was indeed covered. I’ll let Jim continue in his own words.

“So when NBO v2 was released my customer contacted her Novell Customer Care representative who said NO, only the NetWare 6.5 product not the bundled NBO v1.02 was covered by upgrade protection.  We explained that this was not what we were told on more than one occasion by Novell employees and our distributor.  He wouldn’t budge.”

This sounds remarkably like the experience of many of you with NetWare 6.0 and iFolder. You may remember that iFolder, which shipped as part of NetWare 6.0, was widely hailed (especially by me) as a really neat application. So much so, in fact, that Novell released it as a standalone product, much enhanced over the one in NetWare 6. People who bought “upgrade protection” for NetWare 6 were, I think, rightly upset that they weren’t entitled to the improved iFolder unless they paid full price for it.

If that doesn’t strike a cord with you, you might be more familiar with the Small Business Suite (SBS) flap (or, rather “flaps”). One of the many benefits of SBS is that in addition to a fully-functional NetWare, it also includes lots of other goodies, such as GroupWise, Novell’s e-mail/calendaring/groupware system. But even if you buy SBS with “upgrade protection,” you aren’t entitled to GroupWise upgrades. You have to wait for SBS itself to be upgraded. You’re entitled to that – but with no guarantee that GroupWise will be included.

Recognizing that there could be a public relations problem with NBO 2, Novell is offering a limited promotion to entice you to buy it. Here’s what Jim had to say about that:

 “We noticed the promo on the NBO v2 Web page at Novell that proclaimed you could upgrade to NBO v2 by purchasing an upgrade license and upgrade protection for the price of just the upgrade protection.  To my customer this would mean another $600-$700 expense.”

That seemed reasonable (well, not as reasonable as “free”, but not exorbitant either). So Jim and his customer tried to order the promo package.  “We checked with our distributor about this promo,” said Jim, “They did not even have a SKU [i.e., item number] for it.”

Novell is trying to make this right. When last I heard from Jim, Novell the distributor and the customer had just about worked out the logistics of ordering the package.

The moral to be learned is that “upgrade protection” applies only to a particular and specific product. If you have NetWare upgrade protection, you’re entitled to the next release of NetWare. And only the next release of NetWare. Caveat emptor!