Open Source Groupware Opens to Macs, iPhone
Open-Xchange, an open source groupware system that some VARs host for customers, has opened its arms to Apple. Indeed, Mac and iPhone users can now access documents stored on Open-Xchange servers. But there’s a bigger story here, folks: The continued, seemingly ironic blending of Apple and open source.
The VAR Guy has mentioned the irony multiple times: Whether you’re at an open source conference or just hanging out at Starbucks, it’s easy to spot MacBook users who are running open source operating systems and applications.
How can a closed planet (Apple) blend so frequently with the open source universe? Perhaps it’s the fact that some open source fanatics respect Apple’s commitment to hardware and software design. Heck, even The VAR Guy runs Mac OS X and Ubuntu side-by-side in his home office.
Groupware Opens to Apple
According to Open-Xchange:
OXtender for Mobile Web, which enables all mobile devices connected to the Mac — like iPhones, iPods and cell phones from other manufacturers, as well as software from third-party ISVs that support iSync — to have access to Open-Xchange data.
Now, data and groupware information stored on Open-Xchange can be accessed on Macs, or via the AJAX-based web interface, or by using Microsoft Outlook on PCs, or virtually any smartphone.
Admittedly, Open-Xchange isn’t the only open source email and groupware system that supports Apple environments. Zimbra and Thunderbird — among other options that The VAR Guy doesn’t have time to sort and list — certainly offer Mac support.
To be sure, there are recurring revenue opportunities for VARs that want to embrace open source (or closed source) groupware. In the traditional hosted email world, companies like Intermedia offer hosted Exchange Server to VARs and MSPs that want to generate recurring revenue.
And let’s be honest: Exchange remains the de facto email and groupware standard for most enterprises. It’s a safe bet most CIOs aren’t familiar with potential open source alternatives to Exchange.
Still, open source email is carving out a channel niche for itself, where some VARs are hosting Open-Xchange or Zimbra on their own.