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Kerio Launches Cloud Collaboration For SMBs

Workspace offers Web-based collaboration, file sharing, and document management tools based in part on social media principles.

Kerio Technologies Workspace
(click image for larger view)
Kerio Technologies Workspace
Kerio Technologies on Tuesday announced Workspace, a Web-based file-sharing and collaboration platform for small and midsize businesses.

Workspace enables users to create, upload, share, and edit files online, allowing for co-authoring and co-editing without version control issues. Files are opened and edited in the user's native applications without downloads. Administrators can set and manage user rights, such as read-only or selective document access.

Among other features, the software includes a mashup tool for embedding and editing video and other media in a document. A Facebook-esque news feed displays updates to files and other activity relevant to specific users. Social media principles fueled both functionality and Kerio's desire for a tool that non-technical workers could grasp easily without intensive training or background in file sharing, content management, or development code.

"It's essentially a product that does not require a manual," Dusan Vitek, Kerio's vice president of worldwide marketing, said in an interview. "Just like none of us probably read a manual for Facebook when we first tried to use it, the concept for Kerio Workspace is identical."

Though it traces its roots to the security field, Kerio's lineup has evolved over time to include email and IP PBX platforms as well. All of its products are aimed at the SMB segment, which Kerio defines as firms with between five and 500 employees or users. According to Vitek, the decision build Workspace -- which joins a competitive field of similar services, including marquee names such as Google Apps, Microsoft's SharePoint, and Box.net -- was driven largely by the company's own internal operations and its desire for an alternative to the existing options in the marketplace.

"Quite simply, it was our own need," Vitek said. "We ran SharePoint internally, and that experience was painful. We found the product to be completely unsatisfactory for the needs of an SMB company like ourselves."

Kerio in effect served as its own guinea pig for Workspace, deploying the software internally before releasing it publicly. According the Vitek, adoption across the company was nearly immediate from the first prototype. Based in San Jose, Calif., Kerio has 170 employees spread across six offices worldwide. Workspace is priced at $30 per user with a five-user minimum. That's a perpetual license, but ongoing software maintenance after one year will cost $9 per user, per year. Kerio touts Workspace's agnosticism across Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms, and its relative application independence.

"Kerio has a long history of developing cross-platform solutions," Vitek said. "Workspace is no different."

That said, it's interesting to note the company's approach -- at least at launch -- to mobile optimization. Workspace will appear much the same on larger tablet screens as it does in a browser. But when it came to smaller smartphone resolutions, Kerio had eyes only for Apple's iPhone.

"For mobile access, we've built a specific interface just for the iPhone," Vitek said.

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