For companies looking for a groupware solution that taps
Microsoft Corp.'s Outlook on the desktop, Stalker Software Inc.'s
CommuniGate Pro 4.1 delivers a comparable experience to Microsoft's
CommuniGate Pro 4.1, which began
shipping in July, delivers robust groupware support via a Groupware
Connector for Microsoft Outlook 98, Outlook 2000 and Outlook 2002. In eWEEK
Labs' tests, CommuniGate Pro and the connector delivered a comparable
groupware experience to Outlook and Exchange, with some minor holes.
CommuniGate Pro 4.1
CommuniGate Pro 4.1 from Stalker Software (www.stalker.com) matches Microsoft
Exchange groupware functionality with broader server hardware and operating
system support. Groupware Connector gives companies a way to provide
Microsoft Outlook users with nearly full groupware functionality without
running Exchange at the back end. Priced at $499 for a server with a 50-user
license, CommuniGate Pro is a good investment for sites that can afford it.
However, adding groupware, per-user Exchange client access and features such
as clustering greatly increases its cost.
|KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS|
PRO: Supports almost the full range of Outlook/Exchange groupware
functions; easy to manage; broad hardware and server operating system
support; good security features. |
CON: Doesn't support Outlook forms; Web-based management interface
is too uniform across functions.
EVALUATION SHORT LIST|
IBM's Lotus Software division's Lotus
Domino 6 and Lotus Domino Access for Microsoft Outlook
Microsoft's Exchange 2003
CommuniGate Pro will give an organization some advantages in platform
choice over Exchange and can cost considerably less than Exchange when
purchased in volume.
CommuniGate Pro starts at an affordable $499 for a server with a 50-user
license with basic Post Office Protocol/ IMAP connections. Adding groupware
costs extra, however, with the Groupware Connector ranging from $20 to
$47.96 per concurrent user, depending on volume. Per-user Exchange client
access licenses cost $67. The CommuniGate Pro clustering server costs
$99,999. This is considerably more expensive than the $3,999 Exchange 2003
In tests, we used CommuniGate with Outlook to perform almost all the same
groupware functions that we could perform when connected to an Exchange
server. We could create and manage groups, discussions and shared folders
and could perform group calendar and scheduling functions.
In addition to sharing folders, we could also share tasks. On the
calendar and schedule side, we could schedule and reschedule events and
respond to invitations. We could perform all these functions from the Web
mail client as well.
Making group calendaring and scheduling functions available did require
going through additional steps, however. We had to download Microsoft's Web
Publishing Wizard and publish each user's free/busy schedule, which is
located in their individual directories on the CommuniGate Pro server.
CommuniGate Pro doesn't support Outlook's forms feature, so we could not
create and manage forms as we could with an Exchange server. The connector
works only on Windows versions of Outlook.
We liked the systems management and security features we found in
CommuniGate Pro. The connector can be installed remotely from the server
and, most importantly, is self-updating. This will be beneficial in keeping
up with changes that occur in Microsoft's MAPI (Messaging API)
communications between Outlook and Exchange. The connector is a DLL that
maps MAPI calls in Outlook to the IMAP store in the CommuniGate Pro
The server management console is Web-based, and although we generally
found the console easy to use, the consistency of the user interface across
all functions of the console could be a bit confusing. The inclusion of a
few more visual clues within the console would have helped prevent losing
track of exactly where in the console we were.
We liked the broad range of security features available, within the
connector and those inherent to the product. The connector supports Secure
Sockets Layer/ Transport Layer Security as well as secure
Some of the more granular security features include the ability to
require that users access Web mail only from a fixed IP address. This would
enable an IT organization to ensure that users with kiosk access to e-mail
are checking only their e-mail from an assigned workstation. CommuniGate Pro
also supports LDAP directories.
CommuniGate Pro supports a broad range of server hardware, including
x86-based systems, Apple Computer Inc.'s PowerPC-based servers, IBM's S/390
and AS/400, and Sun Microsystems Inc.'s SPARC-based systems. Server
operating system support is also broad and includes FreeBSD, HP/UX, IBM
OS/400, Linux, Mac OS X and Solaris.
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Technical Analyst Michael Caton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.