The future of open-source collaboration server project Hula is in jeopardy thanks to initiator Novell ending its funding and pulling out staff.

The Hula team examined opportunities for the project and concluded that it wasn't worth the investment, said Peter Teichman, a Novell employee assigned to work on Hula. 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 though. "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 Novell may heard some of the criticism that Hula received when first announced. Introduced in early 2005, Hula was to be a collaborative calendar and mail server based on open Internet protocols such as SMTP and IMAP. 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 organisation we've talked to already has a mail infrastructure. Bringing Hula in for the Webmail means duplicating their SMTP, IMAP and POP 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.