The communications bundle combines the previously stand-alone IMail e-mail server and Ipswitch Instant Messaging server, and adds shared calendaring capabilities, as well as anti-spam filters and anti-virus technology.
The suite is aimed at small and midsize businesses looking for an Exchange alternative.
With the introduction of Ipswitch Collaboration Suite, Ipswitch will no longer sell Ipswitch IMail Server and Ipswitch Instant Messaging as stand-alone products. They will be supported for one year. Future messaging enhancements, such as additional calendaring capabilities, will be made to the suite.
Ipswitch claims the Collaboration Suite is in response to increasing customer demand for integrated e-mail and instant messaging, along with shared calendaring capabilities that integrate with Microsoft Outlook clients already in place on many users' desktops.
Yet, the feedback from IMail users seems to contradict this. Customer feedback sent to ServerWatch and Instant Messaging Planet painted a different picture. Users cried foul about lack of communication on IMail's end of life and the price spike. One reader noted, "Ipswitch did not inform its user base that ICS would replace IMail. It was billed as 'an add on.' They continued to sell IMail and yearly Service Agreements, which include all major upgrades to IMail right up until Oct 25. ... They replaced a popular Windows e-mail server with an all-in-one product. Pricing went from $900 to nearly $10,000."
Users were even more vocal in an IMail forum.
The IM component of the suite offers a closed IM ecosystem. All messages are encrypted for an extra level of security and, if desired, the server can be placed behind the company firewall to stop conversations from passing across public networks. Conversations can also be archived.
The final component of the Ipswitch Collaboration Suite is server-based shared calendaring and free/busy features that integrate with the Outlook client and enable users to view available and busy blocks of time and schedule meetings.
Tying together the Ipswitch Collaboration Suite are a number of security features, such as built-in spam filtering and anti-virus capabilities. Anti-spam features include Bayesian statistical filtering to assign a probability of a message being spam; real-time blackhole lists to flag domain names and IP addresses of known spammers; connection filtering to perform reverse DNS checks and verify domains; white lists of trusted e-mail or IP addresses; and inbound/outbound rules to copy, bounce, delete, or redirect spam. Two levels of anti-virus protection are also available. The premium version uses Symantec CarrierScan, and the standard edition uses SOFTWIN BitDefender technology. Both provide local and virtual domain scanning. Anti-virus functionality is fully integrated, and all e-mail is scanned before delivery.
The Ipswitch Collaboration Suite is available immediately from Ipswitch and its partners for $1,295 for a 25-user license. A 100-user license is $2,495, and a 250-user license is $4,495. A license for a unlimited users is $8,995.