Alt-N Technologies threw its hat into the groupware ring Tuesday when it unveiled MDaemon Groupware Edition, an offering it will pit against Microsoft Exchange.
Alt-N plans to release MDaemon Groupware Edition later this quarter.
MDaemon Groupware Edition will be an an extended version of Alt-N's IMAP/POP3 mail server. It will support full integration with the group sharing functions of Microsoft's Outlook client.
"We believe MDaemon Groupware Edition is the first complete Windows-based replacement for Exchange Server," Arvel Hathcock, Alt-N chief executive officer said. "Outlook is very popular, and any competitor to Exchange must support Outlook's groupware functions. We are doing this with our new e-mail server product."
MDaemon Groupware Edition addresses these cost, complexity, operating system, and sharing issues, according to Hathcock. "By adding the Outlook sharing connection, MDaemon Groupware Edition makes the full set of Outlook features available without the expense and difficulties of Exchange."
The groupware product integrates with Outlook via a plugin installed on each workstation. The plugin enables Outlook clients to share account folders, calendars, to-do lists, journals and contacts, as well any other Outlook-specific items.
The plugin tunnels the user's account data between an Outlook client and shareable server-side IMAP folders for the account. The shareable IMAP folders contain the Outlook proprietary data, which is normally accessible only through Exchange. Because the IMAP folders are shareable, other users with accounts on the server can access the proprietary content through their Outlook clients, depending on what folder sharing permissions the account holder sets.
On the client machines, Outlook stores its account data in PST files, the normal storage format for Outlook data. The MDaemon Groupware plugin synchronizes the information between the PST file and the shareable IMAP folders.
Alt-N and Bynari co-developed the technology behind MDaemon Groupware Edition. Bynari also offers a Linux-based product for enterprises looking use Outlook's sharing capabilities with an open source e-mail server.
In addition to Outlook, both Bynari's and Alt-N's servers work with all industry standard POP and IMAP e-mail clients.
Alt-N believes that the timing of MDaemon Groupware Edition's release will prove fortuitous, as Microsoft is requiring Exchange Server users to change operating system software. "The next version of Exchange Server is slated to require an operating system upgrade to .Net Server," Hathcock notes.
"While we did not necessarily plan it this way, this move by Microsoft gives Alt-N an opportunity to present MDaemon Groupware Edition as a very cost-effective alternative to Exchange Server. Our product is much easier to administer and runs effectively on modestly priced hardware and operating systems," he concludes.
Alt-N will face competition from other messaging server vendors, however. In the past month, several companies have announced groupware offerings. Stalker Software released CommuniGate Pro Groupware, a plugin that integrates with Outlook in a manner similar to that of MDaemon Groupware Edition, earlier this month. MiraPoint opted to make its collaborative offering propriety when it added a group calendaring module to the Mirapoint Messaging Server. In addition, Sendmail, Inc. released Sendmail Calendar Server back in April.