- ✓Highly scalable
- ✓Multi-platform support
- ✓Well-integrated collaboration features
- ✕Third-party service required for wireless collaboration
- ✕Complex licensing model
Gordano was one of the first developers to offer an Exchange alternative — a product called NTMail, introduced way back in 1994 when the company was known as Internet Shopper. The company and product have both been renamed, and what’s now called GMS (the Gordano Messaging Suite) is regularly updated to keep pace with Microsoft developments.
One of the key features of GMS is its scalability, based on a core SMTP engine capable of processing thousands of messages per hour using fairly modest hardware. Support for distributed processing adds extra scalability and a degree of redundancy, with the ability to host GMS on Windows, Linux and Unix systems another key selling point.
Web-based management is standard on all platforms, the browser-based interface requiring Java to work properly. It's far from the prettiest we've come across, but does the job of providing access to all the tools needed to set up and manage multiple email domains. A fair amount of technical knowledge is assumed, however, and it can take a while to get to grips with the various options and work out how best to configure them.
The AJAX-driven webmail client is much nicer, with the option of a traditional Outlook theme together with a fair amount of drag-and-drop support — for example, to move messages from one folder to another. Web users also get an extra in the form of 'gizmos' to link directly from messages to a variety of web services. For example, you can call up Google Maps by clicking on a postcode, or read foreign-language messages by calling on Google Translate.
Basic SharePoint-like document management features have also been added in the latest release (GMS v17), enabling users to upload documents to the host server for collaborative working.
As with other Exchange-alternatives, an Outlook plug-in is available to get the all-important Exchange effect. This can be used with all recent versions of Outlook, giving access to both the message store and all the collaboration features apart from the new document-management options, which are only available using webmail. Installation takes just a few seconds and the experience is very authentic, right down checking free/busy time when scheduling meetings.
Support for mobile users is also available in GMS, but it's not quite as extensive or seamless as with some of the other products. A cut-down web interface is provided, which can be used by mobile browsers. There's also built-in support for a technology called IMAP idle, enabling the Gordano server to notify devices with this option (mainly Windows Mobile and Blackberry) when new mail is received. However, for full access to the collaboration features, Gordano has teamed with a company called eAgency to use its Nice Office service, providing wireless synchronisation to users of both Outlook and GMS WebMail. The Nice Office option is, however, only available at an extra cost. Support for Exchange Active Sync is also planned, but isn’t currently part of the product.
As the name implies, the Gordano Messaging Suite is a modular product with lots of options, which can prove a little baffling when it comes to working out what you need and how best to licence it. On the plus side, however, new client access licenses (CALs) are now available and in smaller increments than before (minimum of 5) to address the needs of smaller companies looking for a complete solution.
The GMS CALs come in two flavours: standard and premium. The premium licence (£18.33 per user/year, based on 100 users with discounts for larger numbers) adds antivirus and extra anti-spam protection to the core messaging and collaboration features delivered by the standard CAL (£9.33 per user/year). Updates and support are also included, with just a few optional extras you may want to add, such as GMS Archiver for message archiving and compliance.