Novell pulls plug on Hula collaboration server project

Novell ends efforts to build an open source collaborative mail platform just months from a first release

The future of Hula, the open-source collaboration server project initiated by Novell, is in jeopardy since Novell pulled staff and funding from the project, according to a Hula newsgroup posting.

The Hula team examined the opportunities for the project and concluded that it wasn't worth the investment, Peter Teichman, a Novell employee assigned to work on Hula, wrote in the posting on Tuesday. He and others who worked on Hula will take new jobs at Novell.

Teichman and other contributors appear to hold out some hope that the initiative won't completely end. "We still really care about Hula ... but I think we're going to need someone from the community to take a leadership role and continue to move things forward," Teichman wrote.

Hula is likely just a few months away from a first release, he said.

Some of his comments, however, hint that perhaps Novell heard some of the criticism that Hula garnered when it was first announced.

Hula, introduced in early 2005, was to be a collaborative calendar and mail server based on open Internet protocols such as SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) and IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol). At the time, some experts wondered whether the market needed another mail server.

In his posting, Teichman wrote that in his opinion, the work the Hula team has done on the Web interface is the most interesting and noted that while the Hula mail server is strong, "nearly every organization we've talked to already has a mail infrastructure. Bringing Hula in for the Webmail means duplicating their SMTP, IMAP and POP [Post Office Protocol] setup," he wrote.

However, some developers involved with the creation of Hula responded to the news on the mailing list with hope that the project will continue because they see a need for an open-source integrated mail platform.

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