Server, Part 2

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Print this article Print


Desktop-as-a-Service Designed for Any Cloud ? Nutanix Frame

Unified communications software vendor Unison looks to outdo Microsoft's Office Communications Server in features, price and channel support.

The server covers all of the communications bases and offers an array of capabilities, such as:

  • IP PBX:  Call center-class IP-PBX built in, with patented scaling technology
  • Directory/Contacts: LDAP with global, departmental and personal address books
  • E-Mail/E-Mail Security: High-performance e-mail server with anti-virus and anti-spam built in
  • Instant Messaging: Integrated XMPP-based instant message and presence server
  • Calendar Server: Advanced CalDAV-based calendaring with group scheduling
  • Control Panel: A single administrative control application for corporate directory, telephone, e-mail and other features.

Arguably, the most important consideration here is that all of those features require only a single server and are all preintegrated to work with each other using a single management console. That should reduce deployment time and maintenance chores significantly, not to mention that initial deployment costs would be much lower than competitive solutions.

While Unison Server does cover the basics quite well, there is room for improvement. For example, the product does not offer support or integration for desktop videoconferencing solutions, a capability that is getting more and more important. In addition, administrators will find that support for Active Directory is limited; the product relies on LDAP instead. Active Directory support (beyond just LDAP synchronization) could speed up installation and simplify management much more.

Support for Skype would be a welcome feature for small businesses, many of which are considering the cost savings offered by Skype’s business VOIP services. The server does not offer a Web client either; seeing support for something akin to Microsoft’s OWA (Outlook Web Access) could make the product very suitable for traveling workers.

Currently, Unison Server only supports Unison’s proprietary "fat" client, which is available for Windows and Ubuntu; there is no Mac support at this time. The product offers very limited support for mobile devices (or PDAs) and their related server products, such as GOOD messaging and BlackBerry Enterprise Server. A savvy integrator could rig something up to overcome that problem by using POP e-mail or IMAP integration. The lack of PDA support extends to calendaring also. Perhaps Unison could consider setting up synchronization with Google’s calendar service (or one of the other hosted calendars) to overcome that problem.

Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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