Introduction

Companies, groups and any persons involved in a given project or task need a way of communicating and getting reports from one another. This is where groupware applications come fully into the picture. It can be really hard or even impossible without these tools in place for your staff or group to share and work or collaborate together.

Collaborative software or groupware is an application designed to help people engaged in a common task achieve it better and in a neater fashion. This article looks at the various groupware applications that you will easily find being used. It shares what they are, their features in a nutshell and why you should consider using them. Let us begin..

“It’s so hard to forget pain, but it’s even harder to remember sweetness. We have no scar to show for happiness. We learn so little from peace.”
Chuck Palahniuk, Diary

1. Zimbra

Zimbra Collaboration Suite (ZCS) is a collaborative software suite that includes an email server, a web client, calendar, chat, and many other tools. It is a groupware application that has gained a lot of popularity due to the features it provides in an OpenSource way. There are two versions, a Community Edition (Opensource and a Network Edition (Enterprise). The community edition is good enough to handle most if not all of your needs. On the other hand, the Network Edition has other features that you might fancy. Overall, here are the features that Zimbra Collaboration Suite offers.

Features: Source (zimbra.org/features/zimbra-collaboration)

Lower-Overhead Management

  • Native Hierarchical Storage Management or Information Lifecycle Management (HSM / ILP)
  • Multi-domain support and administration on a single node
  • Online single mailbox restore to point-in-time
  • Online mailbox moves (and backups)
  • Rich, zero footprint, AJAX-based administrator interface (cross browser/OS)
  • Dashboards for real-time system activity
  • Comprehensive command-line tools
  • SOAP APIs for every administrative action

Compatibility with Existing Infrastructure

  • Web services – Full API for easy Bi-directional integration with enterprise applications like CRM, ERP, etc…
  • Client – Outlook, Mobile, IMAP, POP, iCalendar, RSS, etc.
  • Directory – Active Directory/LDAP integration, provisioning support
  • Messaging Server – Co-existence and migration tools (including Microsoft Exchange)

Security

  • Web security model – Single sign-on, TLS/SSL, no VPN required
  • Secured attachment opening and HTML rendering
  • SpamAssassin and ClamAV included
  • Compatibility with existing anti-spam/anti-virus (via Postfix & amavisd-new)

Open solution

  • Open source
  • Open formats – One MIME message per file means Zimbra storage is not opaque to sys. admin. or operating system utilities

Freedom of Client Choice

  • Browser – Zimbra Ajax client
  • PC Client – Outlook (Online, Offline, Cached Mode), Apple Mail and iCal, Eudora, Evolution, Thunderbird/Sunbird, RSS, etc.
  • Mobile – Wireless devices “over the air” synchronization: Blackberry (via partner solutions), Palm, Nokia, Motorola, Good, PocketPC, etc.

Self-Organizing Mailboxes

  • Powerful, fast search (including messages and attachments)
  • Saved searches across folders
  • Conversation views across folders
  • Filters

Comprehensive Calendaring

  • Group scheduling with free/busy management and controls
  • Multiple calendars per user
  • Calendar delegation and sharing
  • Multi-calendar views
  • Subscribe to external calendars in .ics format

Extensible model for linking message content to external web services and applications (expressable via hover-over and/or click)

  • Intranet – ERP, CRM, Support, Finance, HR, VoIP phone, etc.
  • Internet – Google/Yahoo Maps, Skype, Travel, Package Tracking, etc.

Efficient context switching

  • Quickly view/create calendar appointments while in mail
  • Quickly create/edit contacts while in mail
  • Quickly view sender’s website while in mail
  • Any Place, Any Machine
  • Rich, zero footprint, AJAX-based end-user interface (cross browser/OS)
  • Security sans VPN
  • Secure, read-only access to attachments without special-purpose client software

Installation: Install Zimbra Mail Server on Ubuntu 18.04

2. Kolab

Kolab Groupware is a Free and Open Source collaboration platform that affords its users with shared email, notes, calendaring, tagging, and tasks. It is secure, scalable, reliable, flexible and full-featured. Kolab Groupware is the glue between the various pieces of software you would choose to Do-It-Yourself (DIY) your own mail server, and adds to that collaboration capabilities, mobile phone synchronization, native integration in to desktop operating system platforms such as Mac OS X, Linux and Windows – in a ready-to-go, integrated offering with a uniquely uniform look and feel. At the heart of Kolab is the chance and affordability to communicate with ease and reliability. As an organization, Kolab allows you to handle email fast and efficiently at any scale.

Kolab’s Features. Source (https://kolabenterprise.com/explore/business)

  • Opensource: Kolab is built on open-source software, the safest and most secure products available today.
  • Built to be integrated with storage, directory service, mail delivery systems and other assets that may already be in place.
  • Filter email into folders based on your pre-defined criteria giving you a leg up on identifying and reading what matters first.
  • Its powerful email, contact management, and file storage services are the foundations of this.
  • Contacts: Contacts are an organization’s social network. Kolab provides the tools to collect, organize and share contact information efficiently.
  • Files: Save and share files from wherever you are with Kolab’s integrated file cloud service.
  • E-Mail: Kolab allows organizations to handle their email fast and efficiently at any scale.
  • With its focus on being a collaboration platform, Kolab excels at helping people share goals and information with each other.
  • Security: Kolab has been engineered from the ground up for security and reliability in order to meet those requirements.

Installation: Install Kolab on Ubuntu 18.04

3. SOGo

Released under the GNU GPL/LGPL v2 and above, SOGo is a fully supported and trusted groupware server with a focus on scalability and open standards. What SOGo does is the ability to share calendars, address books and e-mail using an open source, cross-platform environment. It provides a rich AJAX-based Web interface and supports multiple native clients through the use of standard protocols such as CalDAV (an Internet standard allowing a client to access scheduling information on a remote server.), CardDAV (an address book client/server protocol designed to allow users to access and share contact data on a server) and GroupDAV, as well as Microsoft ActiveSync. This groupware application offers multiple ways to access calendaring and messaging data. Your users can either use a web browser, Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird, Apple iCal, or a mobile device to access the same information (sogo.nu, 2019).

Features of SOGo: Source (sogo.nu, 2019)

  • SOGo provides native Microsoft ActiveSync support: Mobile devices such as Apple iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry 10 can fully synchronize emails, contacts, events, and tasks with SOGo.
  • Sharing: Share your mail, calendars and address books with other users. Define specific rights to each person or group of persons.
  • Reminders: Set alarms to important events and get alerted directly from your browser.
  • Delegation: Delegate access to your mail account or delegate an invitation to another person.
  • Export/Import: Export calendars or import events from a vCalendar file. Export contacts to LDIF or import cards from a LDIF of vCard file. Export a mailbox to zip archive.
  • Password Policy: Define a variety of password control mechanisms, including password aging, account time-outs, mandatory password resets, acceptable password content, and even grace logins.
  • Caching: SOGo uses Memcached to cache results of your authentication sources and storage database, lightning the load on the resources.
  • Customizable: Ease of maintenance, evolution, and customization using a template-driven approach.
  • Components reusability: SOGo uses existing IMAP, SMTP, database and LDAP services. When not available, best breed ones can be used from the Open Source community such as Cyrus IMAP Server, Dovecot, OpenLDAP, Postfix, MySQL, and PostgreSQL.

To read more, visit sogo.nu

4. Horde

Horde Groupware is a free, enterprise-ready, browser-based collaboration suite. Users can manage and share calendars, contacts, tasks, notes, files, and bookmarks with the standards compliant components from the Horde Project. Horde Groupware bundles the separately available applications Kronolith, Turba, Nag Mnemo, Gollem, and Trean (www.horde.org, 2019).

Features of Horde Groupware: Source (www.horde.org, 2019)

  • Dynamic, basic and mobile interfaces
  • Public and shared resources (calendars, address books, task lists and notepads)
  • Unlimited resources per user
  • Translated into 41 languages including right-to-left scripts and full unicode support
  • Global tagging system
  • Customizable portal screen including applets for weather, quotes, etc.
  • Online help system
  • Import and export of groupware data from other applications
  • Synchronization with PDAs, mobile phones, groupware clients
  • Integrated user management, group support and permissions system
  • User preferences with global default values
  • Strong integration, e.g. address book lookups in meeting planning, task due dates in calendar
  • Platform independent, works on any web server with PHP support, i.e. Linux, Windows, Solaris, Mac OS X Server
  • Abstract database support, e.g. for MySQL, PostgreSQL, SQLite
  • Integration into external clients like Apple Calendar, Mozilla Lightning/Sunbird, Microsoft Outlook
  • CalDAV, iCalendar and iTip support
  • Alarms with email notifications
  • Simple and advanced search forms

More on Horde can be found at https://www.horde.org

Thank you for reading through and we hope you have decided on the best Collaboration tool for your organization. Wishing you the best.

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