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I'm going to be putting together a server in the next few months for a small law office (4 attorneys, 2 staff). The server will be used to tie together 4 separate law offices on one centralized system. It's going to be Debian powered, and I'm looking for some thoughts on software.
One thing I'm looking into is a groupware platform, preferably on the free end of things. I'd really like to deploy something with networked calendars, group calendars, centralized contact management, etc. Email is a bit different. Everyone has their own email account through another system (e.g. Gmail or something similar), so I probably won't be making extensive use of a dedicated email system. However, any email system that is part of the groupware would likely be put to use locally in some way, so we do need to be able to access it.
Everyone but me is running Windows on their computer. So, any groupware solution would have to have a cross-platform client, be accessible via a web browser, or be accessible through multiple clients (e.g. Outlook users on Windows could access information from it, as well as Kontact/Evolution users on Linux). I'd also like (if possible) to be able to sync calendar information to and from PDA's. Whether that's Palm PDA's or others directly from the groupware or by syncing the groupware to, say, Outlook and syncing the PDA from there, whatever.
I've looked around at a few possible solutions: eGroupware , Citadel, Kolab, and OpenGroupware. Unfortunately, I haven't found many reviews of these so I don't know how well they work. Anyone here with suggestions (based upon my description of what I'm looking for), reviews of any of these groupware solutions, or any other input would be greatly appreciated.
The Palm sync is likely to be the hardest requirement to meet - you may find that few or none of the Open Source solutions will do this effectively. Outlook is basically an Exchange client, doesn't cooperate well with IMAP mail servers, and is generally hassle to maintain, so if you are able to dispose of it at any point, do.
"Groupware" is collaborative software. Most people usually just use shared mail and calendaring, but more sophisticated systems like Groupwise and IBM Workplace (successor to Lotus Notes) can handle document sharing and act as the basis for business workflows of all kinds.
Most Open Source groupware applications are currently Web-based and have various limitations with client support etc. which prevent them from being strong competitors to proprietary systems. Novell's Hula and OSAF's Chandler/Cosmo are much stronger, but unfortunately both are still in development and are not yet ready for production use.
You're preaching to the choir on Outlook. I hate it with a passion, but one of the firms uses it for calendaring. I figure that I could phase them out of it if I implimented a server solution that was compatible with many clients, not just Outlook, and so gave them a choice going forward.
I'd assumed that any syncing duties would probably have to be performed on the client end. The primary solution that I'm looking at right now is Kolab. It claims client compatibility for Kontact (for me, the sole Linux user), Outlook (for the one firm that uses it), and Aethera. OpenXchange is currently in the running as well, since it appears to be Outlook compatible (with a plugin).
Our main function right now will be for calendaring. Everyone needs to know what everyone else is doing. I'll likely be doing a limited email server as well. Not really for primary email, but just something local for fax notification (if I install HylaFax) and things of that nature. Since we're tying 4 separate offices together, though, any solution that I install needs to be as broadly compatible as possible. Otherwise, people will just end up not using it.
Calendaring is hard ATM, because the CalDAV standard isn't yet supported by much. Mozilla will support it on the client end (the Lightning and Sunbird apps), as will Evolution, and the Hula project has committed to supporting it with their server.
In other words, it will all be wonderful in a year's time . Until then it's probably a case of picking the least worst option.
My post consists of a review of an enterprise Domino -> PDA bridge and a question about replacements for that product:
I am presently using a Sybase/iAnywhere/ExtendedSystems/OneBridge (Windows based) server to connect my enterprise Lotus Domino servers to (8) Palm Treo 700P's via Verizon EvDO. When it works smoothly this is a viable system for maintaining bi-directional auto-sync between mail, calendar, task, contact, and memo applets on the Treo and DB's on the Lotus Notes server. The problem is maintaining smooth operations in this system. There are several seperate failure issues with various clients (about half) in this (very standardized) environment. We have been working relentlessly with Sybase to rectify the problems with less than satisfactory results. As the product name suggests it has IMHO become an "OverExtendedSystems' product based on the number of rapid acquisitions it has been through.
We plan on expanding this system and presently it's not good enough to support that expansion. I'm looking to replace the OneBridge bridge server with a different mobile-server-PDA-bridge-system. I want it to be more robust and bullet-proof than what's in place presently. It needs to support a range of popular PDA's. I WOULD LOVE IT if the this server were Linux based as I am presently converting my entire enterprise over to *nix.
Does anyone have any suggestions for me on products that would fill this requirement in the Linux world? We would e xpect to pay license for support &c.
Given the nature of your setup, I guess that the most important question is really what your Lotus support will accept. The current generation of PDAs and smart phones seem to be quite proprietary, so your options are probably fairly restricted.
I Think We're Referring to Two Different Support Groups
I was speaking to a maintenance agreement with the supplier of the bridge server. My relationship with Lotus Support is good. Their big question to me lately has been, "Why aren't you doing this in Linux yet?" I'm starting to peruse the, "mSuite," by CommonTime. What I'm looking for are leads on what's available to be added to my evaluation. I don't want to miss any qualified candidates for this part of my system.
My relationship with Lotus Support is good. Their big question to me lately has been, "Why aren't you doing this in Linux yet?"
That's good to hear. I had assumed that they would either have a strong preference for particular products running on particular distributions, or would simply tell you to use a favoured proprietary solution on Windows.
Until the end of this month Motorola is giving away a GoodTechnology Mobile Messaging Starter Pack (read: Free Server & 5-CALs) until the 30th of this month; 20070630! A very sweet way to get going, ". . . on the free end of things!"
Here's the URL: http://www.good.com/getgood/free/free.html
It seems to have boiled down to a race between CommonTime's mSuite for Domino and Motorola/GoodTechnology's GoodMobileMessaging. At least CommonTime has a Linux roadmap. Is there really no Enterprise strength Linux offering for a shop that's trying to transition itself off of Windows and onto Linux without traumatizing the business? It has to be manageable to a person who's understaffed and has been driving Win for too long.