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Ximian Connector, a client-based product, serves as an extension to the company's Evolution suite of groupware products that enables Linux and Unix users to better manage personal information as well as to collaborate with Windows-based colleagues using Exchange 2000.
Through the Connector, Evolution will function as an Exchange 2000 client, thereby allowing users to manage e-mail, calendars, group schedules, and address books using their current Exchange 2000 servers.
"The challenge in connecting decentralised Linux workgroups with the larger Windows-based enterprises has been a barrier for Linux desktops to make inroads into the corporate world. I think this product is designed to break that down," said Robert Mahowald, a senior analyst at IDC.
Some users like the pairing of Ximian's open-source technologies with the proprietary products that are popular among many Fortune 1,000 companies such as Exchange, a trend that continues to grow among many open-source developers.
"Ximian Connector is the missing piece of the puzzle for our development staff using Linux workstations. It enables us to more quickly and affordably integrate users of Evolution on Linux with our corporate messaging and scheduling standard, which is Microsoft Exchange," said Andrew Lozier, vice-president of Next Dimension, which provides outsourced application development, hosting, and network integration
CorporateConnect, which can run a number of different Linux flavours including those from Red Hat, SuSE Linux, MandrakeSoft and Yellow Dog lets administrators update systems automatically or on demand using Linux operating systems distributors as well as application developers.
The service allows administrators to create and manage their own private "channels" for their company's software standards and internal applications. In so doing, users can significantly reduce the cost of ownership and support because it essentially simplifies the process of system maintenance and updating by IT managers and system administrators.
"Just as Ximian Connector lets companies more affordably enable Linux interoperability with existing systems, CorporateConnector can reduce costs through a more streamlined software management," David Patrick, president and chief executive of Ximian, said.
The Corporate Connector features a Web-based administration console allowing administrators to configure and distribute software from a single location as well as manage groups' users and create group profiles of target machines for installations and upgrades, a company spokesman said.
CorporateConnect is available immediately and costs $150 (£105) per systems per year and carries an initial set-up fee of $2,500 (£1,753). The Ximian Connector for Microsoft Exchange costs $69 and comes with 30 days of Web-based technical support. Users can also spend $599 for a 10 pack or $1,449 for a 25 pack.