SUSE Linux Openexchange Server 4.1s Web-based groupware capabilities are so good, your company might be able to use the Web interface exclusively. By doing this, you would avoid the cost and time of installing Microsoft Outlook and a plug-in on every employees desktop. Thats a distinct advantage over competing products in this roundup, such as CommuniGate and MailSite, neither of which has a viable Web-based groupware interface. Whats more, installing and administering Openexchange is far easier than with Microsoft Exchange or Novell GroupWise.
Openexchange is not without its limitations, however. The lack of a spell-checker in the Web client is a major omission. And larger or growing companies may be deterred by the absence of features like delegated administration.
Openexchange runs on Linux, but that alone shouldnt steer away administrators more accustomed to Windows. SUSE includes United Linux as an integral part of the Openexchange package (the servers price of $1,249 includes the underlying OS license), and the operating system is loaded and configured almost transparently at setup.
The Web-based administration interface puts most tasks and settings within easy reach, though some configuration, such as that for the included open-source antivirus scanner, requires you to edit text configuration files manually. While this is not overly difficult, it does imply a learning curve for administrators new to Linux. Similarly, the servers included Sieve filtering for antispam scanning requires you to construct rules manually.
Openexchanges Web-based client is excellent, even though it lacks slick interface extras, such as the DHTML in Lotus Domino Web Access or the drag-and-drop youll find in Microsofts Outlook Web Access. When you log on, a portallike convenient summary of your personal information appears on a welcome page.
In addition to e-mail and groupware essentials like scheduling and shared contacts, Openexchange includes discussion forums, shared folders, project and task tracking, document versioning, shared bookmarks, and a pinboard for posting companywide notices. Openexchange lets you set granular permissions on items and link arbitrary items together to construct a simple Web-based knowledge management system.
Like CommuniGate Pro and MailSite, Openexchange includes an Outlook plug-in that lets you access groupware capabilities from within Outlook. But that means configuring each desktop in your organization individually, paying for Outlook licenses, and using only the groupware capabilities that Outlook supports—rather than the extra ones available via the platform-independent Web interface.
Openexchange includes a fax gateway, as well as an instant-messaging system of dubious usefulness, since it works only for Openexchange users within your company and cant interoperate with public IM networks. The server can also use SUSEs Samba interoperability programs to act as a file server for Windows clients.
For smaller companies that want Web-based groupware without installation and configuration headaches, or those seeking to adopt or expand a Linux-centric server environment, Openexchange deserves close consideration.
For more on this product, and reviews of other mail servers, click here.