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Open-source poised to compete with Exchange, Domino

The open-source community has a new tool in the messaging and collaboration software arena.

Software code contributed to the open-source community drew enormous interest last week when, after just one day, more than 2 million curious visitors came to the site of a new project that seeks to create open messaging and collaboration software.

The project, called, was launched late last week after a 7-year-old German software vendor, Skyrix Software AG, contributed Skyrix 4.1 groupware server software to the open-source community.

The software will be used to create a groupware server that integrates with open-source office suite products and any other groupware clients on all major platforms; it will also provide access through XML-based interfaces and APIs, according to the company's mission statement. The software is intended to compete directly with Microsoft Exchange and IBM Lotus Domino.

Few analysts have had a chance to study the platform, but most concur that its success will depend on's ability to attract partners and on the vibrancy of the community. "How active will they be?" said Stacey Quandt, an analyst at Forrester Research, in Cambridge, Mass., noting that Samba, Apache and Linux all have active communities.

That's true, said Chris Hernberger, an advocate, but "we have our dance and, basically, everyone is invited to the dance."

The open-source community already had many of the software components necessary to compete with Microsoft, but there was no server back end that would create a fully functional groupware system, said Gary Frederick, the project lead for the organization.

Until Skyrix contributed the software, was "looking for solutions and discussing what we would want," Frederick said.

It already has some software. Sun Microsystems Inc. donated Java calendaring software, called Glow, which complements the office suite.

"[] will work with anyone who wants to work with us," Frederick said. "Our goal is to enable users of OpenOffice to use groupware that is standards based with published interfaces."

So what happens now? "The world is looking at it," Frederick said. "The other open-source projects are looking at [] to see how it can work with their software."

Skyrix's focus now will shift from solely offering support for its existing product line to a business model that is more customer oriented, observers said.


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