Zarafa Groupware, ClearOS Linux Get Integrated
Deploying a fully open-source groupware suite on a Linux server became a little easier recently with the release of ClearOS version 6.3, which sports full integration with the Zarafa Collaboration Platform. Here’s the scoop, and how it affects the open-source channel.
Based on CentOS (which is itself derived from Red Hat Enterprise Linux), ClearOS is a commercial Linux distribution designed for small and medium-sized organizations. It’s backed by the ClearFoundation, which sells support services for the platform, and is available in two flavors: ClearOS Community and ClearOS Professional.
Zarafa, meanwhile, develops an open-source groupware suite intended to provide an alternative to Microsoft’s Exchange server. The VAR Guy himself has pointed to Zarafa as among the open-source world’s top fifty companies. More recently, we’ve emphasized Zarafa’s key importance in offering the open-source channel a full replacement for Exchange, which has traditionally been one of the main sticking-points for organizations considering switching from proprietary to open-source IT infrastructures.
Zarafa and ClearOS
Zarafa’s integration into the latest version of ClearOS doesn’t come totally out of the blue. Zarafa began partnering with the developers behind ClearOS earlier this year. Nor is Zarafa investing all of its efforts to increase its deployability in ClearOS; just last month, it made available VMware images that serve the same purpose.
ClearOS 6.3, however, opens up new territory for both the distribution and Zarafa by placing the latter at the center of a Linux server operating system designed to be ready for a production environment out-of-the-box, and with commercial support services available. As such, the release provides a new opportunity for organizations to deploy a Microsoft-free communications suite without having to do much of the building themselves.
The Zarafa platform now included in ClearOS, however, may not be for everyone. ClearOS’s focus on ease-of-use means that it provides its own set of specific solutions for other common challenges, like integration with Microsoft Active Directory, leaving organizations with arguably less freedom to pick and choose which software modules to deploy than some of the more bare-bones Linux distributions would provide.
But that, of course, is why Zarafa’s continuing efforts to create other options for easily deploying the groupware suite — such as the VMware images mentioned above — are important. And for users seeking a simple and complete drop-in solution for powering their servers, ClearOS with Zarafa constitutes an attractive option.
And in any case, no matter how organizations choose to deploy Zarafa, its expanding availability is good news for the open-source ecosystem more generally. Expect to see continued partnerships around this product going forward.