LAS VEGAS—At its annual users forum here this week, The SCO Group Inc. quietly rolled out the SCO Office Appliance Program—one reflection of the companys push to lure new customers.
The program for resellers and their business customers revolves around a new device for quickly installing an OS, a mail server and backup capabilities.
SCO announced the program during the opening session of the conference and demonstrated the appliance at a product expo but gave it less fanfare than it devoted to a future virtual server codenamed Project Fusion and some new partnerships with open source database vendors. “We didnt even issue a press release about [the appliance program], although maybe we should have,” a SCO spokesperson said.
But a number of resellers and multiplatform IT distributors said that, sooner or later, theyll take part in the program by deploying the device among SCO customers—and maybe even among MS Exchange users unhappy over licensing fees or Linux users longing for fancier mail features.
In a somewhat unusual step, SCO isnt selling the appliance itself. Instead, under the new program, the vendor will supply the necessary software scripts to VARs and distributors, along with training in how to build the installation gadget and use it with their customers.
With the device in hand, a VAR can set up and configure SCO Office Mail Server, Microlite Corp.s backup software and an OS for a customer in as little as 10 minutes—a process that otherwise takes several hours, according to John Boland, a tech support specialist for SCO.
SCO initially devised the solution, which is based on Microlites restore technology, as an answer for UK-based VARs asking for a way to “de-skill” installation of SCO Office Mail Server. “This way, they can use less expensive staff for the job,” according to Boland.
Some attendees see another aspect to the device that can save money for resellers and users. If VARs ship the appliance to customers, IT administrators might be able to handle the installation themselves. Others said they think the program could boost usage of the SCO environment as an alternative to MS Office and Linux-based mail solutions.
“[The new SCO appliance] offers a lot more capabilities than what you get in [Linux] SendMail, for example,” said Deepak Thadani, president of Sys Integrators, a Queens, N.Y.-based reseller. “You also get anti-spam, anti-virus and backup, all rolled into one.”
D. Barry Weir, an accounting software reseller in Anaheim, Calif., predicted that easier installation might ultimately make SCO mail customers out of current Microsoft users who are reluctant to pay hefty licensing fees.
SCO Office Mail Server can either replace or supplement Microsoft Exchange, said Erik W. Hughes, SCOs senior director of product management and strategic alliances, speaking to the VARs and distributors during the opening session.
SCO produces software connectors to Microsoft Outlook, the mail client in the Exchange environment. The connectors provide mapping and synchronization of users mail. Connector 3, an upgrade to the current Connector 2.5, is now in the works.
Team I Systems Inc., the first North American company to build the installation device, put together a prototype last week that was demonstrated at this weeks SCO Forum. Debbie Dora, Team Is president, told Ziff Davis Internet that her distributorship plans to include the device in a bundle for resellers.
DTR Business Systems Inc. is another distributor that will offer the appliance, according to Rene E. Beltran, DTRs executive vice president. DTR distributes products across SCO and other operating environments, including Windows and Linux.
Don McKeny, CEO of DTR affiliate Mardon Healthcare Information Systems, in Mesa, Ariz., said hes looking forward to deploying the SCO Office Mail Server appliance among his health care customers, once DTRs devices are ready.