SuSE goes after Exchange

Trying to cut deeper into the market share of Microsoft Corp.’s Exchange Server e-mail system, SuSE Inc.’s Linux on Wednesday is rolling out a version of Openexchange that features improved server support for Windows Outlook users.

For the first time, Version 4.1 of the product allows Outlook users to access calendar and contact information as well as access documents stored in Openexchange Server, company officials said. One of the new features includes an alert to let Outlook users know when they have conflicts among their appointments.

“With this release we think we are offering business users more stability and security of their open source data, additional groupware and messaging functions, and much better speed and efficiency in electronic communications,” said Juergen Geck, SuSE’s chief technology officer.

Another new capability in Version 4.1 is its Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning (WebDAV) interface. The interface is designed to allow for the exchange of data sets from enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management and project management applications with the SuSE Linux Openexchange server, company executives explained.

With this capability, for instance, users can carry out tasks such as integrating project deadlines and a range of tasks into appointment and task management tools, which eliminates the need to maintain multiple calendars, they said.

SuSE officials hope the new version will further encourage corporate users to migrate many of the their communications services to Linux, which they believe will then be less expensive to maintain compared to comparable Windows services and applications. Some users think it may be worth the look.

“We are heavily invested in a number of different Windows-based communication programs, but if something like this can knock a lot of the maintenance costs out of our communications servers and clients, then we are interested,” said Christopher Carter, a systems engineer with a large Houston-based medical supplier.

SuSE has added another feature, called Public Folders, which reportedly enables the team management of appointments, contacts, and a variety of tasks. The product makes any changes made immediately available to everyone who is part of a team, a company spokesperson said.

The company has included the application DyCE Instant Messenger from the company go4teams, which is intended to supply quicker and more effective communications among team members scattered around at multiple locations. The product also makes it possible to hold online conferences in chat sessions where ideas and information can be shared.

Available Nov. 17, Version 4.1 can be purchased directly from the company or through its network of business partners. The product includes one year of system maintenance and installation support under the company’s Linux Maintenance Program.

The product will carry a suggested retail price of US$1,240 and includes a base license for 10 client systems and an unlimited number of e-mail clients.