If your company uses Exchange you might have noticed the license for Exchange now requires a CAL for each user who accesses the Exchange server. In a large enterprise this can become quite costly. Fortunately there is an alternative. The eGroupware suite is a free, open source groupware suite that allows users to manage contacts, email, projects, to-do lists, and much more. Sound familiar? It should because it is very much like Exchange, only eGroupware offers more. The eGroupware suite can used via web interface or from supported groupware clients such as Kontact, Evolution, or Outlook. And eGroupware is not just suited for small businesses. The eGroupware suite is suitable from small to enterprise-level businesses. But is it right for you? Let's break it down and find out.
What eGroupware DOES have
The feature list of eGroupware looks like this:
Calendar (including support for groups, resources, and contacts)
Contact manager (support for both SQL or LDAP)
Integrated IMAP mail client
Infolog (tasks and notes)
Resource and inventory management
Web based authoring system
On demand support from Stylite
What eGroupware does NOT have
Support from Microsoft
The installation of eGroupware is what will stop many users from deploying eGroupware. The first requirement is to have a LAMP server up and running. Once that is up you'll need to download the correct file. You can install eGroupware from source or from a binary file such as an rpm file. After you have installed the system you need to point your browser to http://DOMAIN_OR_IP/egroupware/setup/index.php and finish up the installation. At this point you will be given instructions regarding what is missing from your installation in order to continue.
Of course that is a rather minimal installation description, but it gives you an understanding of how the system is installed.
Who Would eGroupware Best Fit?
The eGroupware suite would best fit any business or enterprise who is looking for a cost-effective replacement for Exchange and is willing to put the time into installation. eGroupware is also perfect for any situation looking for an Exchange-like groupware that offers more features and better reliability.
Who Would eGroupware Not Fit?
The obvious answer to that is an enterprise with an IT staff having zero knowledge of Linux. However, it must be noted that eGroupware can be installed on an IIS server so this isn't necessarily a credible factor. The real factor that could hinder adoption of eGroupware is if your enterprise is Microsoft-only. If your company has already spent the budget on Exchange servers and licenses they will be less likely to agree on adopting an all together different technology. Those licenses, however, will expire so this would be an ideal time to create a testing environment for eGroupware so that, when the time comes, you will have plenty to show the powers that be how well a free, open source solution can be.
eGroupware is one of those tools that will quickly become one of your favorites even if only because of the cost savings it offers. But don't think the only reason to adopt eGroupware is cost. eGroupware is as powerful and as flexible as anything Microsoft can offer in the groupware category.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.