The Germans are coming, with open source and SaaS

Customers won't know they're using GPL code or Linux or anything of the sort. They will be buying enhanced email from their ISP, and their evaluation will be based on 1&1's ability to deliver, not Open-Xchange software.

A German Web host hopes to use the GPL to take over the U.S. market.

1&1 Internet has grown mainly through acquisitions into Europe's largest Web hosting company. Not everyone likes it but it is also growing in the U.S. with a new center in Lenaxa, Kansas.

The story is an agreement with Open-Xchange to offer hosted collaboration, under the GPL, to business customers through 1&1. Open-Xchange is based on AJAX, offering e-mail, document storage, calendaring and collaboration. It's a Software as a Service (Saas) play.

The deal may have been greased by the fact the open source project has an office in Nuremberg. (The parent of 1&1 is based near Koblenz.) It has being announced in Europe as 1&1 MailXchange, an enhanced business e-mail service with calendaring functions.

Customers won't know they're using GPL code or Linux or anything of the sort. They will be buying enhanced email from their ISP, and their evaluation will be based on 1&1's ability to deliver, not Open-Xchange software.

But this may be the proprietary world's biggest worry, that hosted Linux applications, which already scale, could come and eat their lunch. Everyone's talking about Google Apps, but I'm looking more closely at 1&1.

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