By Michael Caton  |  Posted 2006-09-11 Print this article Print

On the user side, Scalix has made a number of improvements that were immediately apparent during eWeek Labs tests. The biggest improvements can be found in the Web mail interface, where the use of AJAX (Asynchronous Java Script and XML) brings additional information on meetings, contacts and e-mails to the foreground when the cursor is positioned over an object such as the calendar date. The net gain is being able to see more information and to act on it without having to open an object.

In general, we found that Scalix provides a very good Web mail client experience. The Web mail interface renders in a new browser window when the user logs in, so pop-up blocking must be turned off in the browser. (Scalix Community Edition supports Microsofts Internet Explorer and the Mozilla Foundations Firefox.) The interface is generally clean and well-balanced, providing a minimal tool set and presenting the most important information (namely, e-mail and upcoming calendar events).

Click here to read a review of Scalix Server 9.2.1.
Users have access to server-side rules, as well as the out-of-office assistant and signature files. The calendar options and interface for scheduling meetings are well-designed. We particularly liked that we could pick from the address book and designate contacts attendance at meetings as either optional or mandatory.

Outlook integration has also improved in this release through the addition of SmartCache, a technology that essentially delivers the same kind of caching benefits available to Exchange Server 2003 and Outlook 2003 users. For example, with SmartCache enabled, the server maintains a local copy of the users mailbox on the client so the user can continue to work even in the event of a network interruption. We liked this feature because it doesnt require Outlook 2003. (It also works with Windows 2000 and Windows XP.) Administrators have to enable the feature for users through the administrator console. SmartCache also requires a premium license for the product.

While the Web mail client is very good and will allow users to do basic tasks, the Outlook client is mandatory for users who want advanced features. For example, we had to use the Outlook client to delegate access to e-mail, calendars, and public and private folders.

Scalix also offers a connector for the Linux-based Evolution client, which supports client- and server-side rules, access to public folders, and free/busy lookup for group calendars and scheduling.

The search capabilities, which are based on the open-source Lucene, have been improved in this release. While we found it difficult to gauge search speed in the beta, Scalix did seem better able to find data across the mailbox.

Going mobile

For the truly mobile user, Scalix provides a very lightweight Web-based client rather than the push-based solutions available from Research In Motions BlackBerry or Microsofts Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 2.

On the one hand, this makes it possible to check mail from a wide variety of devices, including set-top boxes and any mobile devices with a Web browser. Users can basically view, forward and respond to messages as the device permits.

The downside is that the mobile Web client doesnt offer the sophisticated and tight integration with e-mail clients found on wireless smart phones, such as the BlackBerry or Windows Mobile-based devices. Users of the Scalix Web client also will need a more consistent connection than with push-based solutions.

From an administrative standpoint, managing Scalix is a straightforward affair. The management console is Web- based and also requires disabling pop-up blocking. The interface is relatively Spartan, providing tools to manage users, groups and resources, such as conference rooms. The interface also provides a view to Scalixs queues and services.

While Scalix does support Active Directory integration in the Business and Enterprise editions via an MMC (Microsoft Management Console) plug-in, administrators also can set password policies through rules in the administrative console. We liked that we also could control user actions through rules. For example, we could control the frequency with which users could send out-of-office messages.

Administrators also have good control over user mailbox quotas, with the ability to warn users that they are about to—or have—exceeded their allotted space. The quota system supports both universal quotas and individual exception quotas.

Scalix officials said they are working to extend the server management interface through a new API based on SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol).

Next page: Evaluation Shortlist: Related Products.


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