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Open Groupware.org completes Office productivity software set

'MS Exchange replacement'

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The Open Groupware.org (OGo) project, a sister organisation to OpenOffice.org, has announced the formation of an international development community and an initial release of Open Source groupware server software, writes Martin Langham of Bloor Research.

After the arrival of Open Source content management software, (see "Open Source Content Management Arrives"), it was obviously only a matter of time before groupware became available as open source. This software completes the open source portfolio of key infrastructure and standard desktop applications.

The seed technology for the OpenGroupware.org project comes from SKYRiX software AG. SKYRiX 4.1 Groupware Server code provides a good starting point with facilities for:

  • Project and document management including version control and support for a hierarchical organisation of objects and documents.
  • Fully integrated e-mail system with email filters and search.
  • Shared calendars including times zone support, notification via e-mail and the ability to capture conversation notes.

OGo provides a mixture of Exchange and SharePoint Portal Server functions. It focuses on groupware and collaboration instead of messaging, i.e. OGo will not provide its own email and Instant Messaging servers but rather use existing ones such as Cyrus and Jabber. Open groupware.org does plan to provide a full set of collaboration facilities such as shared white boards and co-browsing of Web pages.

Making the announcement, Gary Frederick, Leader of the OpenOffice.org Groupware Project said: "Just to be perfectly clear, this is an MS Exchange replacement. The Open Groupware.org software is important because it's the missing link in the open source software stack. It's the end of a decade-long effort to 'map' all the key infrastructure and standard desktop applications to free software. Open Groupware.org software offers users a free solution for collaboration and document management that, despite being free of charge, will far surpass the quality and level of collaboration found on Windows (through integration of MS Office, Exchange Server and SharePoint). Today marks the completion of 'OpenStack'"

Given the importance of integration and open standards to collaboration software, this product looks like a winner. Open Groupware.org will provide access to all functionality and data with Open XML based interfaces and APIs. The OpenGroupware.org software aims to provide document sharing functions for OpenOffice.org-based documents and support clients such as Microsoft Outlook, Ximian Evolution, Mozilla Calendar, Apple Computer's iCal, and OpenOffice.org's product known as OOo Glow.

So, with Oracle already emphasising its low cost of ownership, the competition in the email and collaboration sector heats up some more as we wait for the release of Microsoft Exchange 2003. Whether these initiatives make an impression on Microsoft's market share depends on an organisations' price sensitivity and their willingness to take the risk of changing their email system.

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