I had the opportunity to have an interview with Horst Fuhrmann, CEO
of SKyPRO, a company focussed on GroupWise, home base in
Switzerland, the small country in the heart of Western Europe.
Gert: Tnx Horst for taking time for this
interview. SKyPRO has a history that i am curious about. Help me
out. Where and what made you start a GroupWise shop.
Horst: SKyPRO is a Novell shop for as long as we
can think back. In 2007 when we were changing our phone system and
were looking for soft phone clients and other unified communication
solutions. Since we could not find any solutions that would fit our
needs we started looking into it. Almost 5 years later I think it's
safe to say that the GroupWise market knows that SKyPRO is the
company that produces integrated communication solutions for the
best collaboration platform, for Novell GroupWise.
Gert: When did you decide to jump to the US
market? How does it look now?
Horst: We know that Novell has significant part of
their customer base in North America. In order to serve this market
and also to have close ties to their headquarters we opened SKyPRO
USA in the Silicon Valley in 2009. We have a growing customer base.
We see strong interest from education and government verticals in
the North American market.
Gert: You started a support group in the Ukraine.
How did that idea come alive and why do you think it is a
Horst: When we started our development in Ukraine,
based on personal local ties there, we also started looking into
the possibility to establish a Ukrainian support team. As of today
we have successfully built our software development and support
teams in the Ukraine, this keeps us extremely competitive in
Gert: You have been a Open horizons partner for a
long time and are embracing GWAVACon as well. Is there a difference
between the two as I think OH is focussed on events, for everyone,
and GWAVACon is for Novell and GWAVA.
Horst: If GWAVACon really would be for Novell and
GWAVA only, we would not have been there for the last 5 years. I
think the events are somewhat quite similar. However Open Horizons
events seem to have a more local approach which makes it a perfect
addition to GWAVACon and Brainshare. And the OH events or more
focused on the technology and trainings whereas GWAVACon has the
focus on showing solutions and novelties around GroupWise and it's
Gert: What are the key products for SKyPRO this
year and next year? What has been your "hors(t) to bet on for sure"
Horst: SKyPRO has three main products: GWTalk,
SKySMS and FaxGwise. They all are being improved constantly they
still have a long list of features that we would like to include.
We want to move faster than our competition. We think that GWTalk
is a product with a great future. We also move towards cloud
offerings and finally our goal is to unite all three solutions into
one platform using one interface integrated with GroupWise, so the
"horse" I bet on is SKyPRO…
Gert: FaxGwise, is a simple solution with great
results and customers are positive about it. Who created the
program and what is the next step for fax users? Is there going to
be FaxFacebook ?
Horst: We bought FaxGwise from a German company
called Vivex about three years ago. Since then we created multiple
new releases, and turned it into our currently best selling
solution. We have version 6 on the starting line to be launched
very soon. There are many new features and improvements like the
possibility to cluster multiple fax servers for performance and
reliability improvements as well as the option to use Fax over IP,
allowing complete virtualization of your fax server and FaxGwise
will work for Novell GroupWise, Microsoft Exchange and Google
Gert: The SKyPRO software is small and yet stable,
how does the test team or development group go through the process
of starting to delivering software that runs on all solutions?
Horst: Quality control : We have a set of
established procedure that we are very strictly applying to all
developments. We create daily builds of our software products and
have a team of testers that immediately start testing the software.
We want to catch every bug and/or problem as early as possible. We
have weekly build that are tested in all details with all functions
and platforms. As soon as we have a release candidate we go into
closed Beta testing.
Additionally we are continually hiring new developers and learn
them how a western company is organized and works process and
results oriented. After 5 years of hard work, we now have an
excellent and incredibly competent development team at our
disposal. Our plans are to support very soon all major
Gert: Where is the office in Swithzerland and in
the US? How can we reach you the easiest way? Send a SKySMS ;^)
Horst: Our Swiss office is in Cham Email me
directly: email@example.com or call +41 41 741 47 70; our US
office is in Sunnyvale CA, Email to Christian.firstname.lastname@example.org
or call +1 408 419 1980. Additionally if you download, install and
use GWTalk you will see me online and can send me an instant
message or even call me. Ad of course we support communicating via
SMS. At (almost) any time you can send me an SMS using GWTalk or
your mobile phone to +41 79 622 8001.
Gert: What do you see of a great option for GW
2012 ? Do you support GW 2012 SP1 yet?
Horst: GroupWise 2012 has significantly improved
their web-access functionality especially if you use an iOS device.
Our solutions are compatible with the latest GroupWise
Gert: GWCheck and SKyPRO are convinced partners of
each others solutions, approach of the GW community and keeping the
customer aware of all GW possibilities there are to find, whether
in books, in tools, in ideas and Email Policies.
What do you see as the strongest SKyPRO solution for GW 2012?
Horst: GWTalk, by integrating social media, VoIP,
Skype, text messaging, instant messaging and additional functions
into GroupWise. It actually allows you to use all these new digi
turns GroupWise into a central and compliant communications and
What do you do approaching the GW community, who do you partner
with for that and what are the replies of the customers that visit
those places where you are?
Horst: SKyPRO sponsors and exhibits at all mayor
GroupWise related events and communities. We work with experts from
the Novell and the GroupWise community as well as strong resellers
and distributors within specific markets. Everyone who visited
SKyPRO at an exhibition and enjoyed our chocolate is considered a
friend. We contact them directly or through the partners they
already are working with.
Keeping the customer aware of all GW possibilities is quite some
work, hence GWCheck is specialized in that. Where can we extend
that and how do we make the customer aware of this?
Horst: GWCheck does very good work for the GW
community. I personally see facebook as a very important way for
people to get information about a company, its products and the
people that work there. It is a very personal and direct approach.
Since GroupWise has a very strong community I think that the usage
of social media is a perfect way to keep the community up to
Gert: quick question, quick and short answer
coffee, tea or other drink, for breakfast?
Horst: Coffee and coke during the day, Champagne
on the weekends, vodka on holidays ;-)
Early starting in the office or late at night at home working on
ideas, etc. ?
Horst: Both! Working whenever suitable and practical … sometimes
I am a workaholic or no such thing ?
Horst: I work hard and I enjoy it, but I
certainly also know how to enjoy myself
Favorite language ?
Horst: Russian … I hate and I love this language.
It is very complicated and I will never be able to really speak it
correctly. But being able to understand and speak it opened my
personal event horizon unbelievably. I currently getting a glimpse
of the mysterious Russian soul - "загадочная русская душа" !
At home I think about work, or no, I rest my case ?
Horst: My work is my company and I never shut off
100%, this is simply not possible for me!
Favorite time out, theatre, movie, walking etc. ?
Horst: Watching a good new movie like "Skyfall",
sitting together after hours with good friends and sports like
running, bicycling and weight lifting.
Back to the interview or QnA, as I call it.
Gert: Who is more visible for SKyPRO, Horst,
Christian, the people at the stand at events?
Horst: In EMEA it's me, Anja, Anny, Antoinette and
sometimes Anton from our Ukrainian office. In North America it's
Gert: Anything else that comes to mind?
Horst: I can only thank you Gert, for doing such a
great service to the GroupWise community. It is being highly
Gert: Where do we see you this year?
Horst: This year I'll be working in the Ukraine
and Switzerland, but I really hope to see many familiar faces at
BrainShare in February 2013.
TNX, have a great day and talk soon.
© GWCheck november 2012