By Michael Caton  |  Posted 2006-04-24 Print this article Print

Open-Xchange Server 5 is derived from the open-source Open-Xchange 0.8 release, adding a rich set of features through a series of add-ons called OXtenders. These extensions allow the product to work with Outlook and to synchronize with Palm OS-based devices.

The Outlook OXtender is a plug-in for Microsoft Outlook that allowed us to configure Open-Xchange server and Outlook clients to communicate relatively seamlessly.

Since Outlook plug-ins are specific to e-mail servers—for instance, Sun and Scalix each have Outlook plug-ins specific to their servers—feature availability and execution can be different. For example, we liked that the Outlook OXtender allowed us to configure mail filter rules, even though the interface is a little raw.

Open-Xchange launches a partner program in an effort to promote its latest set of applications. Click here to read more. During tests, Outlook OXtender proved easy to deploy, with the ability to self-update.

We would have liked better integration with the existing Outlook folder structure, however: The OXtender creates a specific Open-Xchange in-box instead of using the existing one, for example. One nice feature is the ability for users to include a personal profile that can update the servers address book, including information such as phone numbers and address.

Open-Xchange provides a good framework for broader collaboration through the project management and content management tools available through the Web interface. The project management tool would be well-suited for companies that have light team-based project duties, as the application tracks tasks and milestones as well as provides for time and financial budgeting. We liked that we could add custom fields as needed to any project.

Integration between the Web interface and Outlook isnt entirely seamless: If companies choose to use the Outlook OXtender as the primary way to access e-mail and calendars, many of the broader collaborative capabilities could end up being ignored or forgotten by users.

There are plenty of e-mail-based notifications of tasks and projects, however, pulling users back into the Web interface from Outlook. Tasks assigned in the task management and project management applications also can be forwarded to Outlook users in the iCal format. Open-Xchange only supports running the server on SUSE and Red Hat Linux distros.

Next Page: Evaluation Shortlist.


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