Tomorrow People

Open Source consultancy LinuxIT shares insight into Linux-based enterprise communications

Blog post   •   Jul 24, 2012 11:13 BST

Let's talk: how to help your team share more with Linux-based communication tools

Communication and collaboration are crucial to business success; and can be improved when supported by Open Source enterprise unified communications and collaboration platforms. No matter where they are, teams and individuals can work together closely with tools like Linux-based instant messaging, email, document and knowledge management systems and mobile applications. Employees can improve their productivity and performance within teams or between departments. Open Source software solutions work; particularly with the help of professional IT services organisations like LinuxIT.

“Open Source software leverages the community to validate and enhance these solutions, and Open Standards make integration and interoperability easier to achieve between systems than with proprietary software”, says Mike Curtis, Executive Director - Service Delivery at Linux consulting expert LinuxIT. He adds that Open Source software also reduces the total costs of acquisition and the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of the tools, and it allows for increases in storage capacity.

Everyone has heard of proprietary platforms like Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft SharePoint, but there are Open Source alternatives. Zimbra, which provides Open Source email and calendar groupware software, is an example.

Before implementing your Open Source communications and collaboration tools, speak to expert Open Source software consultants about how you can make sure the solution you choose meets the evolving business needs of your organisation.

“More and more users are accessing applications from a non-Windows platform and devices other than a PC, like smartphones or tablet PCs. Organisations need to ensure that there is a consistent user experience across Windows and non-Windows platforms to support a variety of devices”, says Curtis.

But what about collaboration tools like Alfresco: are they secure? Don’t worry; Open Source software is no more risky than its closed source counterpart. Much depends on how tools like Alfresco are used, though, so it’s important that security is not overlooked. This includes everything from preventing staff from stealing information to stopping hacking attacks. Safeguards should be put in place, such as tight security policies within an organisation’s employment contracts. Employees need to know what is defined as acceptable usage and what isn’t. So it’s important to carry out a security health check with the help of our experts.

Zimbra can integrate with other platforms that support Open Standards. “Zimbra currently has a Salesforce Zimlet in its gallery and supports any email clients that use POP, IMAP, Carddav and Caldav”, says Curtis. He adds that Zimbra supports security features like complex passwords, password expiration and encryption of communications and data. It’s also important to inform your employees that access to certain systems and their passwords are logged.

To begin planning your Open Source enterprise communications and collaboration platform, Curtis offers five top tips:

  1. Gather your specific requirements so you don’t over spend; you should only pay for the features you need.

  2. Make sure that the application provides a consistent online and offline user experience across all Open Source and proprietary solution platforms to reduce support calls.

  3. Make sure that it is a robust and elastic collaboration platform that can be easily scaled up or down as the organisation grows.

  4. Plan and test the migration of data and skills to determine what needs to be changed and whether any training is required.

  5. Phase the roll-out of the Linux-based communications and collaboration tools and platform.  

Find more ideas about migrating to Open Source platforms by reading our eGuide, ‘Smooth sailing: how to ensure an easy crossing to a Linux operating system’.

Guest Post: Simon Mitchell is the executive director of LinuxIT, a UK-based Open Source specialist. He creates and delivers sales strategy heading up the field and internal sales, renewals and sales administration teams. You can read more of Simon's articles about open source software by subscribing to the LinuxIT blog here. You can also find him on Google+ and Twitter.