SuSE Linux unveils business groupware server product

Enterprise collaboration capabilities have come to SuSE Linux AG, as the company recently unveiled SuSE Linux Openexchange Server, which includes a full range of communications and groupware features.

In a recent announcement, the Germany-based company said the product will include the SuSE Linux Enterprise Server operating system as well as an established e-mail server and extensive groupware functions.

The product includes integrated Web-mail clients, a central appointment and address management system and project management and task-planning tools. Also included are a centrally controlled document management tool and group-based discussion forums for project teams.

SuSE Linux Openexchange Server, which will be available in mid-November, will work with all common browsers, according to the company. Users will be able to access the communications services from anywhere in the world using a computer with any common operating system and an Internet connection.

Data synchronization features for Palm and Pocket PC devices are also included. Users of Microsoft Outlook will also be able to synchronize and edit appointments, tasks and addresses using SuSE Linux Openexchange Server.

Pricing for the product begins at US$1,249, which includes a licence for 10 groupware clients and an unlimited number of e-mail clients. The company said its server is priced between 59 per cent to 64 per cent lower than a comparable Microsoft Exchange-based system. Customers using SuSE Linux eMail Server 3.x and the SuSE Maintenance Service can upgrade to the new product under their maintenance agreements.

Dan Kusnetzky, an analyst at IDC in Framingham, Mass., said the new product could help Linux become established in the business collaboration marketplace. According to IDC figures, collaboration, including e-mail and messaging, is the number two use in Microsoft Windows business workloads, with file and print serving in the top spot.

The new server product’s ability to replace Microsoft Exchange as the collaboration server in the enterprise “would be persuasive for at least some people to try it,” Kusnetzky said.

“I think this is a good announcement for SuSE,” he said.

The new server application provides most of the features in Exchange and would allow the Microsoft Outlook client software to work with the SuSE product and think it was talking with Exchange, he said. “The idea is it would allow Linux to be introduced into a Windows environment and an Exchange environment with little disruption,” Kusnetzky said. “Taken together, that would allow SuSE to attack [the market]” and give the company a more complete product lineup.

SuSE Linux Openexchange Server includes:

-SuSE Linux Enterprise Server operating system

-integrated Web-mail clients

-central appointment and address management system

-project-management and task-planning tools

-centrally controlled document management tool

-support for e-mail and directory standards including OpenLDAP, IMAP and POP