Bridging Enterprise Gaps

Ximian rolls out Connector for Exchange, Red Carpet CorporateConnect.

Open-source software company Ximian Inc. last week released two products to help integrate Linux into the enterprise, Ximian Connector for Microsofts Corp.s Exchange and Red Carpet CorporateConnect.

Connector is a proprietary product that bridges Linux desktops and Exchange back ends. Red Carpet CorporateConnect is a Web-based service that gives customers centralized software maintenance and version management for Linux workgroups and servers.

Connector is a client extension to the Ximian Evolution groupware suite that allows Linux and Unix users to manage personal information and collaborate with Windows-based co-workers using Exchange 2000, said Nat Friedman, co-founder and vice president of product development for Ximian, of Boston.

"With Ximian Connector installed, Ximian Evolution will function as a Microsoft Exchange 2000 client, enabling users to manage their e-mail, personal calendars, group schedules, address books and tasks lists using existing Exchange 2000 servers," Friedman said.

Friedman insisted that the company is not moving away from its open-source roots and remains committed to developing its open-source desktop.

"But, at the same time, we are a business, and many of our corporate customers have been asking for a solution like this," Friedman said. "Our business plan has always been to provide a mix of free and proprietary software, solutions and services."

Ximians move to include proprietary components follows similar moves by ArsDigita Corp., of Cambridge, Mass., which sells proprietary modules to its once fully open-source, Web-based e-commerce software.

Corporate users such as Robert Cole, a systems administrator for pharmaceutical company Zila Inc., of Phoenix, have been evaluating Evolution. Cole said Connector is an important product because his companys e-mail comes through Exchange. "This is something Im really interested in," he said.

"Ximian Connector ... is the missing piece of the puzzle for our development staff using Linux workstations," said Andrew Lozier, vice president of Next Dimension Inc., in Windsor, Ontario.

Connector is available for leading Linux distributions such as Red Hat, Mandrake, SuSE and Debian for $69 for a single user, $599 for a 10-user pack and $1,499 for a 25-user pack. Evolution is available from the Ximian Web site or on a CD as part of the Ximian Desktop Standard Edition and Desktop Professional Edition.

Red Carpet CorporateConnect provides multiplatform support and updating of systems running a broad range of Linux distributions, including Red Hat, SuSE, Mandrake, Debian and Yellow Dog. Red Carpet Corporate- Connect lets administrators configure and distribute software selections, manage users and create group profiles of target machines for installations and updates.

Red Carpet CorporateConnect, available now, is priced at $150 per system per year on a subscription basis, with an initial setup fee of $2,500.