When it comes to small business collaboration and communication, getting everyone in your company on the same page doesn't can be a challenge and an expensive one at that. Small companies might want Microsoft Exchange capability, but both the cost and the complexity of the messaging solution often places Exchange far out of reach.
Fortunately other options exist from open-source alternatives to hosted versions of Exchange that can lower your collaboration costs. Gordano, a small business headquartered in Clevedon, England, aims to provide businesses with a client/server-based suite of products that provides a range of messaging and collaboration capabilities. The Gordano Messaging Suite (GMS), now available in version 11.01, offers e-mail, Instant Messaging, archiving, list services, anti-virus and anti-spam protection and shared calendaring and scheduling.
A 39-Second Alternative Gordano positions the multi-platform GMS as easier-to-use and less expensive than Microsoft Exchange. John Stanners, Gordano's managing director said that while Exchange is notoriously difficult for small businesses to install, configure and maintain, GMS was designed to take away the pain both emotional and fiscal of shared e-mail and collaboration.
"The GMS software downloads in 39 seconds," he said. "The wizard-based installation lets you check-box the modules you want. You get all the functionality in a single install at a priced geared toward small business."
Geared for companies with at least 25 people, licensing packages start at 25 and go on up into the thousands. You pick and choose from the suite's gaggle of modules to meet your company's specific needs.
Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 Standard Edition software costs $699 and then you need to buy a client access license (CAL) for each person ($67 per person). For 25 people, the Exchange portion that works out to $2,374, or $95 per person.
Stanners said a 25-person GMS set up running GMS Mail, GMS WebMail GMS Collaboration and GMS Web Organizer modules costs $2,092, which works out to $84 per person.
Pick A Module, Any Module
GMS offers a selection of modules that handle various messaging tasks. Here's a list of what's available:
GMS WebMail: A Web mail client that offers a number of interface options. GMS WebMail offers a familiar interface similar to a traditional POP client. GMS Web Organizer offers shared calendaring, tasks and notes and interoperability with Outlook, in conjunction with GMS Collaboration Server.
GMS Collaboration Server: A fully functional cross-platform alternative to Microsoft Exchange. Provides full integration of Microsoft Outlook into the GMS and multiple client access: share folders, calendars, contacts, notes, journals, address books (personal and global) and tasks. Lets you view and manage calendars and task from a variety of clients, including Apple iCal, Mozilla Calendar, KDE Kontact, Bloomba and GMS WebMail.
GMS Anti-virus and GMS Anti-spam: Integrated virus and spam protection via bi-directional scanning and disinfection. GMS Anti-spam Update Service provides automatic updates for Bayesian, Restricted word and Scored Restricted word filters.
GMS Instant Messenger: Offers presence and contact options via either Windows or Java-based clients. Integrate the Windows GMS IM client into Outlook or use as stand-alone. Provides SSL encryption; check, archive and retrieve transcripts of IM sessions in the same way as e-mail and SMS messages to assist with regulatory compliance.
GMS Mobile Gateway: Provides two-way SMS correspondence between mobile devices and the GMS mail server. Send and receive SMS messages using Outlook.
GMS Communication Server: CRM tool set that provides three main services: Newsletter distribution, Targeted Custom mail-outs and Discussion Lists.
GMS Archiver: Provides on-site and off-site archiving for all incoming and outgoing e-mail traffic. Search for and retrieve stored messages using various parameters, including: title, attachment type, size etc. Helps companies that need to comply with regulatory standards such as Sarbanes-Oxley.
New in Version 11.01
In this newest release, Gordano has added features it says makes the message server more secure. Stanners said that in addition to scanning messages as they arrive on the server, GMS also scans when anyone retrieves a message from the server. The system scans attachments including those made to calendar events, tasks and notes.
The company said that the extra scanning extends the anti-virus protection to the period between the time a new virus is discovered when the virus definition file update becomes available.
"Even if a virus somehow manages to make it into an employee's mailbox before new virus definitions become available, the second scan performed when the person accesses the message makes the threat more likely to be caught," said Stanners. "The extra scanning closes all the backdoors so viruses can't access your messaging servers. Hosted e-mail can't do that," he added.
The other main security feature includes support for Sender Policy Framework (SPF), an authentication mechanism that makes it impossible for spammers to forge the "From:" field in e-mail.
Trial By Fire
Gordano offers a free 28-day trial for GMS, and you can take advantage of it anonymously if you choose. If you opt to provide your business information, Gordano will provide you with support during the trial period.
"This is a full working copy," said Stanners. "If you try it and then buy it, we send you a key code to activate the program and you won't any of the configuration you set up during the trial."
Gordano also offers toll-free technical support 24 x 7. "Small businesses don't always have an IT person to help them," said Stanner. "We offer a one-vendor advantage and easy accountability," he said. "Buying GMS is a one-stop shopping with all of your help coming from a single source."
Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com
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