When Novell introduced GroupWise 2012 this week, some pundits said nobody cares about the new release. The VAR Guy respectfully disagrees. Perhaps Novell GroupWise 2012 won't set the world on fire. But the upgrade's arrival represents a key vote of confidence from Attachmate (Novell's parent) to the GroupWise community -- including some channel partners. Here's why.

When Attachmate acquired Novell and SUSE Linux in early 2011, some critics wondered if Attachmate would begin shutting down selected legacy products -- including GroupWise.

Sure, GroupWise enjoyed some strong momentum in the 1990s. But it struggled over the past decade as Microsoft Exchange Server and cloud-based email services came on strong. Heck, even the State of Utah -- home of Novell -- is leaping from GroupWise to Google Apps for Government. Tempus Nova, a Google Apps channel partner, is driving the migration.

Still, Attachmate CEO Jeff Hawn has vowed to grow Novell's legacy business -- particularly ZenWorks and GroupWise. At the same time, Attachmate has repositioned SUSE as its own division and strengthened a SUSE relationship with Dell.

Fast forward to the present and Novell GroupWise 2012 is now available with iPad, Skype, SMS, click-to-call and Novell Vibe support. Vibe is a fledgling team collaboration platform. GroupWise 2012, at $143 per user license, is available direct from Novell or through online partner stores like CDW, Insight, Softchoice or Softmart.

GroupWise 2012, Partners and Cloud Computing?

Alas, Attachmate did not mention true channel partners -- VARs and integrators -- in the GroupWise 2012 announcement. Nor has Novell announced a cloud strategy for GroupWise 2012 -- a glaring omission as thousands of small, midsize and large organizations shift email to hosting providers.

Side note: A Novell partner called HostedEM, short for Hosted Enterprise Mail, offers hosted GroupWise -- though The VAR Guy doesn't know if the cloud service has been upgraded to GroupWise 2012.

Either way, The VAR Guy considers GroupWise 2012 an Olive Branch from Attachmate to the GroupWise partner and customer community -- which weren't shown much love over the past decade.

Can partners still make a buck selling and supporting GroupWise? That remains to be seen.