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Open Source Exchange Teams With Red Hat, Novell - InternetNews.
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Open Source Exchange Teams With Red Hat, Novell

Open-Xchange Inc., maker of an open source version of Microsoft's Exchange server software, will bundle its open source collaboration platform with Novell/SUSE Linux and Red Hat Linux distributions.

The platform, called Open-Xchange Server 5 (OX), is an open source-licensed collaboration suite that offers a typical array of collaboration features, including e-mail, calendar, contacts, appointments, tasks and others. All are accessible either via a Web client or a fat client, including Outlook, Palm and KDE Kontact.

The deal represents another open source competitive threat to Microsoft, whose Exchange server product is widely deployed as an e-mail and collaboration system for enterprises large and small.

Open-Xchange, which recently received intellectual property, trademarks, and branding rights in a transfer from Olpe, Germany-based Netline Internet Service, claimed that by "decoupling" its solution from a single solution, namely Novell, it would be able to offer greater flexibility and choice. Open-Xchange will now offer OX with Novell's SUSE Linux.

The new distribution arrangements come as Novell announced plans to discontinue its own OX-based product, SUSE Linux Openexchange Server (SLOX), which was distributed in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

According to the companies, the agreement "clarifies the relationship between the two open source partners and allows Open-Xchange to offer OX for distributions beyond Novell."

"For the last few years, Novell has had a licensing agreement with Open-Xchange/Netline to resell that company's collaboration software branded as SUSE Linux Openexchange Server (SLOX)," Novell spokesperson Kevan Barney told internetnews.com. "As of Dec. 31 this year, SUSE LINUX Openexchange Server will no longer be sold. This primarily affects Novell EMEA, since Novell hasn't actively sold SLOX in North America or the rest of the world."

Novell recently launched its own open source collaboration project development called "Hula."

"The vision of Hula, which is obviously just in development now, is to develop best-of-breed e-mail and calendaring," Barney said. "Its innovation can't help but benefit collaboration software users of all types."

Hoberg discounted Hula as a fully featured open source collaboration option. "Hula is a simple mail program lacking the sophisticated features and functions of OX," he said.

Under the terms of the agreement with Red Hat, OX is now certified on Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server and Application Server platforms. Open-Xchange, based in Tarrytown, N.Y., will now also offer OX bundled with Red Hat to both new and existing customers who want to upgrade from Novell's SLOX platform.

Red Hat will also provide undisclosed "open source technology and services" that will be distributed along with Open-Xchange products.

According to Frank Hoberg, CEO of Open-Xchange, these announcements give OX significant distribution and support channels with solid companies that should give customers a great deal of peace of mind, making it easier to choose an open source solution.

Illuminata analyst Gordon Haff said the partnerships with both Red Hat and Novell would be positive for Open-Xchange. But he also saw a bit of a mismatch.

"Most users will go with a product like Open-Xchange because they want to save money compared to Microsoft's version," Haff told internetnews.com.

"Yet, they go with Red Hat or SUSE's Enterprise Linux because they want the security of a fully supported and certified distribution. I'm not sure how broadly the potential customer sets will overlap."