Spotlight on open source for business: Adam Williams on OpenGroupware.org

A developer from the OpenGroupware.org community explains that this Open Source groupware project is more than the sum of its parts

OpenGroupware.org is relatively unknown outside the Open Source developer scene, yet it's one of the oldest projects around: This groupware has origins dating back to 1996.

OpenGroupware.org is also one of the most expansive communities in Open Source. It serves as an umbrella organization for several inter-related projects. The major ones include:

The OpenGroupware.org groupware server ("OGo") is a feature-rich groupware server designed for Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs). OGo has the features required to satisfy power users and the extensibility for developers to create applications, such as CRM and workflow, using OGo as a groupware platform.

Scalable OGo ("SOGo") focuses on delivering basic groupware functionality and applications, like simple calendars and address books, for up to 20,000 users. SOGo supports Mozilla Thunderbird and Calendar.

SOPE is an Objective-C application framework and Web application server. JOPE is a re-implementation of many of the ideas of SOPE in Java. Both OGo and SOGo are built on SOPE.

There are about 30 core members actively involved in the overall OpenGroupware.org community. Some of these individuals who work on OGo -- and most on SOGo -- do so as full-time developers. (An enterprise distribution of OGo is sold under the name SKYRiX.)

We spoke with Adam Williams to enlighten us on this scene. Williams contributes to several OpenGroupware.org projects, and he works as a groupware consultant through his own business, Whitemice Consulting.

What is the exact nature of the behind-the-scenes relationship between SKYRiX and OpenGroupware.org? It looks to be similar to Sun's StarOffice with its open source counterpart, OpenOffice.org, but what are the significant differences?

OpenOffice.org is a much larger community than the OpenGroupware.org community, and Sun is a much larger company than SKYRiX, so the projects cannot meaningfully be compared. SKYRiX is a small company which works together with a few other companies on the development of OGo [OpenGroupware.org].

OGo is a very open project and SKYRiX places very few restrictions on OGo's development. Contributors to OGo do not need to assign copyrights to SKYRiX. The most active members of the OGo community are not employed by SKYRiX, although a few occasionally do paid work for SKYRiX customers.

What is the state of the groupware market today? Other than for OpenGroupware.org being an open source alternative, how does your organization see it fitting into this market?

The FOSS marketplace is crowded. In part, this results from the nebulous definition: "groupware" can be defined quite differently, and different kinds of organizations have different needs.

This is represented even within the OpenGroupware.org project itself. Scalable OGo [SOGo] is designed to provide, to very large groups, the basic functionality that most end users expect from a groupware solution. This means the same functionality that they would have when using Microsoft Outlook with Exchange: address books and shared calendars. SOGo also provides straight-forward mobile device support.

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