Interview with Horst Fuhrmann, CEO of SKyPRO



Interview with Horst Fuhrmann, CEO of SKyPRO


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 successful choice?

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 today's world.

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 market space.

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 Mail.

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 platforms.

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: or call +41 41 741 47 70; our US office is in Sunnyvale CA, Email to 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 versions.

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 collaborations hub.

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 date.

Gert: quick question, quick and short answer please.

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 24h.

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 clearly Christian.

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 appreciated.

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