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Making Message Transitions Easier

Companies tied to messaging and E-mail systems on Unix-based servers have a new option for migrating those systems to Linux running on less-expensive x86 servers.

Companies tied to messaging and E-mail systems on Unix-based servers have a new option for migrating those systems to Linux running on less-expensive x86 servers. Startup Scalix Corp. on Monday introduced its new Server, Connect for Microsoft Outlook, and Web Access software as a way to provide companies with all the Microsoft-based messaging features they're comfortable with without having to implement Microsoft in their back-end systems.

Scalix designed its Server around Hewlett-Packard's Unix-based OpenMail application, which HP no longer sells. This gives the new company the ability to sell a product built upon a mature technology. Scalix CEO Julie Farris says that, based upon her company's study of the messaging market, a business with a Unix-based E-mail server will spend half as much to move to Linux servers running Scalix as it would to move to Microsoft Exchange Server. All three of Scalix's apps together will cost companies about $50 per user.

"We're not evangelizing Linux," Farris says. "There's a growing population of CIOs saying that they're making a move toward Linux and adopting an open-systems philosophy. For that segment of the population, we want to be the messaging piece."

Connect for Microsoft Outlook is designed to provide users with access to Outlook functions, including advanced E-mail, calendaring and scheduling, offline synchronization, contact management, shared public folders, and support for delegation. The Web Access piece, written in XML and DHTML, gives users the ability to access their E-mail from any Web browser.

Rob Enderle, research fellow with Forrester Research, predicts there will be a niche market for Scalix's Linux-based messaging software. "Up to now, there have been companies using Unix for their messaging systems on the back end that have said, 'Microsoft isn't for us,'" he says. "This is for a Unix shop that wants to continue to operate like a Unix shop."

Neither Enderle nor Farris believes that the SCO Group's allegations that Unix vendors, most notably IBM, have tainted Linux illegally with misappropriated Unix System V code will slow the market's interest in Linux. SCO Group's actions don't really provide a hurdle for Scalix because Scalix can deal directly with SCO for permission to sell its Linux-based product, if it comes to that, Enderle says. Meanwhile, Farris says she's not concerned with SCO Group's multibillion-dollar lawsuit against IBM. "Not because I think it's going to go away," she says. "I actually think we'll be dealing with this for a while. But I believe SCO is a dissenting voice in the overall movement. Companies are still very bullish [about Linux] and will be until someone tells them to cease and desist."

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