Originally based on the long defunct HP OpenMail product, Scalix released the source code for its core Scalix Collaboration Platform technology in 2006 and the following year was acquired by Canadian firm Xandros. The company now offers commercial Enterprise and Small Business versions of its product plus a free Community Edition delivering support for a single server with up to 10, so-called, Premium users, able to access all of the collaboration features.
Scalix claims to have over a million users of its Collaboration Platform, based around a principle Linux server component. The main platforms are Red Hat and SUSE Linux Enterprise, plus CentOS, Fedora and openSUSE although the last three aren’t officially supported for production use. As with Open-Xchange, AJAX technology has been used to create a graphical management interface and you can use any LDAP directory server, with Active Directory integration also possible.
AJAX has also been used to develop the inevitable browser-based client. Called Scalix Web Access (an homage to Outlook Web Access perhaps?) this delivers a customisable Outlook-like GUI with full access to all the collaboration features. In addition Scalix provides native support for Microsoft MAPI, enabling the same functionality to be delivered to Outlook users via a plug-in – Scalix Connect for Microsoft Outlook.
Like the Open-Xchange plug-in, Scalix Connect is proprietary rather than open source, but is nonetheless included in the free Community Edition. It also differs considerably from what Open-Xchange has to offer in that it handles both groupware functionality and messaging.
The Scalix plug-in can be used with any version of Outlook from 2000 onwards, which is important as according to a recent Yankee Group survey around 20 per cent of companies still use old versions. It also delivers a very complete Exchange experience with, for example, a unified folder hierarchy with a single Inbox and push notification of new messages, calendar changes and so on.
Just about anything possible using Exchange can also be done by the Scalix alternative. That includes basics such as support for a global address book, public and shared folders, plus native Outlook delegation facilities, including the ability to track changes made by delegated users. More importantly Outlook users get off-line access to their data plus all the calendaring and scheduling facilities associated with Exchange, including the ability to check free/busy time and track meeting requests.
Naturally there are the odd features here and there that aren’t replicated, such as message recall and MSN messenger integration. Otherwise it’s a very complete implementation with, in the latest release, enhancements to the use of SSL to enable remote users to connect to the server directly rather than over a VPN link.