Novell Dumps the Hula Project

Conspiracy theorists of the Open Source community unite; Novell has just dropped official support for Hula shortly after announcing their agreement with Microsoft. For those unfamiliar with Hula, here's a snippet from the original press release just over 18 months ago:
BOSTON (LinuxWorld Conference& Expo 2005) — Feb. 15, 2005 — Novell today announced the formation of Hula, a new community project to create an open source collaboration server. The server will provide innovative calendar and mail functionality, filling a major void among open source offerings. Hula will be based on code taken from Novell's NetMail collaboration server product, an award-winning, proven technology foundation with an installed base of more than 4 million users.
Novell has donated the core components of NetMail to provide a starting point for the Hula project. Hula today includes standards-based e-mail, calendaring and address book functionality that can scale to 250,000 registered users on a single PC with 50,000 simultaneously connected users. Novell's contribution of such a significant product into open source – more than 200,000 lines of source code – demonstrates Novell's continuing commitment to promoting open source as well as the company's deepening involvement in helping to lead key community initiatives.

So do I think Novell ditching their Exchange replacement is directly related to the Microsoft deal? Realistically, probably not. I know it's hard for some to believe, but it's not always about Microsoft. The truth is, the project never really seemed to gain much traction. It's a shame, because an Open Source Exchange replacement is a critical missing piece right now. I can't emphasize this enough. Many shops I see use Windows (and in some cases end up ditching Linux in an effort to have only one server platform) solely because of Exchange. It's also a shame because Hula showed some promise. While I thought it was odd that they chose to rewrite some of the services instead of just using something tried and true like Postfix, some of the features Hula promised looked very nice. Luckily the project lives on and in the Open Source spirit I hope someone picks it up. Without a corporate sponsor though, it's unlikely a project like this will get much enterprise uptake. Luckily Zimbra just keeps getting better and better every time I look at it. With SOX compliance promised soon, Zimbra could be well positioned to give Exchange a run for its money.
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