Friday, September 24, 2021

Open Source Takes on Exchange

OpenOffice.org gained a sister organization and Microsoft gained another open source competitor Thursday with the coming
out party for OpenGroupware.org, an open source project developing
groupware server software which competes with Microsoft’s Exchange Server.

Microsoft is already facing competition for its Office suite from the open
source OpenOffice.org (OOo) development project and community, and the new
OpenGroupware.org offering rounds out its competitive angle with a
server-side attack.

OpenGroupware.org (OGo) provides server components for full office
collaboration with the OpenOffice.org suite as well as other Linux and
Windows groupware projects. The OGo software runs on Linux and Solaris.

“Just to be perfectly clear, this is an MS Exchange replacement,” said Gary
Federick, leader of the OpenOffice.org Groupware Project. “OGo is important
because it’s the missing link in the open source software stack. It’s the
end of a decade-long effort to map all the key infrastructure and standard
desktop applications to free software. OGo offers users a free solution for
collaboration and document management that, despite being free of charge,
will far surpass the quality and level of collaboration found on Windows
through integration of MS Office, Exchange Server and Sharepoint. Today
marks the completion of the ‘Open Stack.'”

The OGo software is based on the contribution of the SKYRiX 4.1 Groupware
Server code. Developed by German ISP MDlink GmbH in 1994 as reference
server software, the company later melded it with the LSOffice application
server it began developing in 1996 to extend its Internet offerings with a
collaboration platform useable over the Internet. The company renamed the
product SKYRiX 3, and formed a new company, SKYRIX Software, a specialist
in Linux groupware, in 2000 to focus on the product. Developed over the
past seven years, OGo said the code is a well-established, mature product.

The product itself consists of about 600,000 lines of object oriented C
code and about 100,000 lines of reusable Web components, according to OGo.

“We are extremely excited to form OpenGroupware.org and to collaborate with
OpenOffice.org to serve the open source community worldwide,” said Jens
Enders, president and CEO of SKYRIX Software. “By configuring the
OpenGroupware.org server together [after install] with the OpenOffice.org
suite and other leading groupware clients, our customers will be able to
implement a comprehensive and integrated collaboration environment wholly
composed of free software.”

The new organization said its software provides document sharing
capabilities for OpenOffice.org documents that will allow users of
Microsoft Outlook, Ximian Evolution, Mozilla Calendar, OpenOffice.org’s
Glow (its Groupware Project’s client product), Apple’s iCal and other
standards-based groupware clients to collaborate. The software will allow
users to share calendar, address book and email information, communicate
through instant messaging, share folders, exchange documents, track
changes, share a whiteboard, and browse the Web — all at the same time.
Most importantly, the group said, this can be done on open standards
without paying or managing licensing fees.

OGo said it has broad support for XML-based APIs, including: an XML-RPC
‘Web service’ API, support for SunONE XML-based WCAP, support for
HTTPMail/MS Exchange-based WebDAV, and support for iCalendar files in XML
notation (according to the XCal drafts).

The server software uses a WebDAV-accessible relational database management
system. It is licensed under the open source dual licenses: the Lesser
General Public License (LGPL) and the General Public License (GPL). Its
libraries and components are licensed under the GPL.

“The release of OGo means the OpenOffice.org suite is ready for the
enterprise complete with full-featured and mature groupware solutions,”
said Stu Green, managing director of open source consultancy Open Source
Professional Services. “These capabilities once and for all show how free
software betters proprietary solutions that require licensing payments on
both the client and server sides. Also, OGo provides multiple file format
filters for creating, storing and sharing data in an open and flexible
fashion. It’s possible now to completely avoid proprietary file formats and
non-standard XML throughout the desktop stack and infrastructure. Licensing
fees and license management are gone. And with OOo and OGo, no remote
activation is required.”

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