Linux-based Unison server to challenge Microsoft Unified Communications Platform

A group of former execs from a Microsoft messaging hosting partner are going to launch a Linux-based unified communications platform that will compete directly against Microsoft.Unison, a two-year-old developer based in New York, plans to release into beta testing the Linux server and Windows client code at CeBIT 2008 on March 4.

A group of former execs from a Microsoft messaging hosting partner are going to launch a Linux-based unified communications platform that will compete directly against Microsoft.

Unison, a two-year-old developer based in New York, plans to release into beta testing the Linux server and Windows client code at CeBIT 2008 on March 4. The finished server, Windows client and forthcoming Linux client, will ship later this year, execs said.

The platform combines PBX, email, contact, calendar, contacts, instant messaging and directory and presence iservices onto a single Linux server and will compete directly against Microsoft’s Unified Communications platform, CMO Rurik Bradbury said.

Unison is based on many top open source components – including Mozilla’s Thunderbird client, MySQL, Jabber Instant Messaging and Clam AV. Unison will offer a free community version of its SMB platform as well as a commercial version whose price has not yet been released. Support will be optional.

Many of the top execs – including CMO Rurik Bradbury – came from Intermedia, a top NY-based Microsoft hosting partner focused on Microsoft’s communications technologies.

Bradbury said the Unison product, which has been under development for two years, addresses shortfalls of the Microsoft platform and offers significant savings in deployment costs. For example, all of the components are integrated into a single server – including the PBX and telephony system with the e-mail system (see UI below) – vastly reducing deployment and maintenance costs, Bradbury maintains.

Unison UI

Another cost saving: the installation and deployment will require an IT administrator with Linux experience but won’t require a specialist or solution provider to provide integration services for the components, as the Microsoft platform requires, Bradbury maintains.

Microsoft launched its long awaited Unified Communications platform in October. The platform consist of the Office Communications Server 2007, with integrated VoIP, video, IM, conferencing and presence; the Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 with e-mail, contact, calendar and directory services, and the Office Communicator 2007 client. It also offers two other components – a speech server and RoundTable conferencing phone with a 360 degree camera – as optional components.

Unison is launching its namesake UC platform at CeBIT 2008 in Germany and promises to have the server and client components available globally by the end of 2008. The server, aimed at as many as 2300 users, will be sold through North American, European and Asian channels. An enterprise version is under development.

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