Apple needs to get cracking on a real groupware solution for Mac OS X

“If you need the kind of groupware functionality you get from the Exchange ecosystem, there’s really nothing for you on Mac OS X, and that’s a real problem for Apple which is trying to gain traction in the Enterprise,” John Welch writes for Datamation. “Groupware is a mission-critical need in corporate America. The ability to have your email, contacts, events, scheduling and tasks all working together is no longer a luxury of the Fortune 500. While things like iCal, and Web client-only systems may work for a select few, in a modern enterprise it’s not going to play. Things like delegation, public folders, real handheld support, instant messaging integration and the rest are not ‘highfalutin’ options anymore. They’re basic functions that an enterprise needs to coordinate the functions of its people.”

“And every time Apple has to throw up its hands when asked about groupware and admit that its only calendaring solution is .Mac, they lose a lot of credibility outside of the server room,” Welch writes. “Groupware is one of the biggest holes in Apple’s Enterprise offerings. There’s nothing out there that runs on Mac OS X that you can use to replace Exchange, or Domino, or Groupwise. Apple offers a solid email solution, and a good directory service, but that’s it. There’s no calendaring, and if you aren’t on Mac OS X 10.4 Server, good luck with using network address books. That’s just not going to cut it.”

“Now, as a Mac writer, it probably borders on heresy for me to be using Exchange, or to be as happy with it as I generally am. ‘John, why aren’t you using something that runs on Mac OS X?’ Well, I’d like to, but at the moment, there aren’t any mature groupware servers that run on Mac OS X that support enterprise groupware’s range of needs. Note… I said mature. There are some products that come close for a subset of those features,” Welch writes. “I know a lot of companies that regularly evaluate competitors to Exchange, but other than Domino, GroupWise or possibly Oracle Collaboration suite, there really aren’t any. And on Mac OS X, there are none. The opportunity is there. It’s rich, and it’s waiting for someone to ‘Think Different.’ It’s only a matter of time before someone does, and it would be silly if the first enterprise-ready groupware solution on Mac OS X didn’t come from Apple.”

Full article, highly recommended, here.

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52 Comments

  1. Sure, we need another proprietary groupware product that works only with Apple. Dumb, dumb, dumb. What we need is Apple to get behind an open source project. But I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Apple is too afraid to support OpenOffice.org, for fear of Microsoft retaliating. So I wouldn’t expect Apple to support a competing product to Exchange.

  2. Apple obviously has targeted the consumer space rather than the corporate space. Maybe that’s why they don’t have an enterprise solution comparable to Exchange? Mayybe they don’t see enough money to be made in it to justify the time and expense of engineering a top notch groupware solution.

    Besides, there is such a prejudice against Apple in the corporate IT world that even if they had such a solution available, chances are that most of these IT monkeys would still just ignore them anyway.

  3. I’m sure it is a considerable investment for Apple to meet the demands for interoperability with Exchange. As it is OS X mail can work with exchange servers (I’ve tried it), but all the rest will take time to achieve. I believe Apple are slowly plugging away at this and with each new release adding more and more compatability with windows and exchange.

    I would imagine Apple would far rather have groups switch to a different system but the problem is that too much investment has been made to warrant dumping old systems for something new. I agree that the best way of getting attention is to build in compatabiility and make the alternative significantly cheaper than exchange. Apple have certainly scored on that for their servers and MAc OS X server. The systems just needa few more years to mature and become feature rich.

  4. I can’t imagine Apple supporting OpenOffice.org for more reasons than the terrible UI and bloated architecture.

    Apple needs to do alot to show they are enterprise-friendly, but this takes time. Apple is making huge changes and you can’t expect them to do everything at once.

    I have a crazy idea. Why not use Microsoft products? Today Apple needs client penetration. Server penetration comes after that. For now Office for Mac does just about everything doesn’t it? It’s even better than the Mac version. It’s missing Project though. I think Microsoft could get this stuff out to the market faster than Apple who would be starting from scratch.

    Microsoft is in a better position of providing enterprise software than Apple right now. We should be bugging them.

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