A screenshot of Microsoft Exchange taken from the Microsoft website

5 Popular Email and Collaboration Software Tools for Web Hosts

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No matter what industry sector they fall into, almost any small and medium-businesses requires an efficient email and collaboration software to manage the administrative side of its business. This is an opportunity for web hosts to offer advanced email and collaboration software as a value-added service beyond basic email. Below is a list of five different email and collaboration tools that web hosts can offer their customers.

Microsoft Exchange

A screenshot of Microsoft Exchange taken from the Microsoft website

Customers: As the go-to email and collaboration software for many SMBs, Microsoft Exchange‘s features vary depending on the hosting provider and plan. These features include mail, calendar and contact functions on the PC, phone and Internet, multi-layered anti-spam filtering with continuous updates, and a range of storage options to allow for larger and more reliable mailboxes. Exchange Online is the Microsoft-hosted, Office 365 version of Exchange. For $4 per user per month, customers receive 25 GB mailboxes without having to manage the server themselves. The data is entirely hosted in geographically-distributed data centers with continuous backup and data recovery, anti-virus and spam filters, automatic patching, an easy to use web interface, and 24-hour live phone support.

Web Hosts: Microsoft Exchange offers many benefits for web hosts, including more storage options so they can provide users low cost large mailboxes, calendar sharing that gives end-users the ability to share information with colleagues, email archiving, eDiscovery Search, retention policies, and legal hold to more effectively preserve and discover data, security policies to protect customers, and a range of deployment options including Exchange Server on-premises, Exchange Online in the cloud, and hybrid deployment options.

Open-Xchange

A screenshot of Open-Xchange's web interface taken from the Open-Xchange website

Customers: Open-Xchange offers two different versions for business use. Open-Xchange Server Edition is designed for integration into existing IT infrastructures, where businesses can continue to use email and management services. Open-Xchange Server Edition supports Enterprise Linux distributions Debian 4 and 5, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11, Red Ht Enterprise Linux 5, as well as Univention Corporate Server. The Advanced Server Edition is a pre-configured groupware that includes an integrated operating system and is offered as a single server for small businesses and multi server for organizations with multiple locations.

Web Hosts: Open-Xchange Hosting Edition allows web hosts to offer complete business email, file sharing, contact and calendar management as a software-as-a-service solution. The tool has been growing in popularity over the years and is distinguished by its multi-tenancy, optimized use of hardware resources, and maximum scalability and performance. Web hosts can replace an old webmail solution with the AJAX-based business-class solution without changing their existing email server infrastructure, upsell directly in the Open-Xchange user interface, and enter the cloud application market at flat rate prices without financial risk.

Google Apps

A screenshot of Google Apps for Business taken from the Google website

Customers: As one of the more popular cloud email/collaboration tools available in the market, Google Apps for Business offers a wide range of messaging and collaboration apps designed specifically for business-critical needs. Priced at $5/user/month, the tool offers nearly 100 percent uptime guarantee, 25GB of email storage per employee, Blackberry and Microsoft Outlook interoperability, mobile email, calendar and IM access, complete security, full administrative and data control, and other support choices.

Web Hosts: As a Google Apps reseller, Google provides web hosts with technical training and reseller support, sales tools and training, marketing programs, collateral, and tools, reseller discount off the annual list price for Google Apps for Business, reseller logo branding, solution provider community forums, integration into the front-line customer support flow, console to create and manage customer accounts,  and opportunities for other performance-based benefits.

SmarterTools

A screenshot of SmarterMail 9.x's interface taken from the SmarterTools website

Customers: SmarterMail is a Windows-based mail collaboration server is designed to help businesses connect with customers, employees, and partners using some of the more popular email clients like Microsoft Outlook for Windows or Mac, as well as a range of mobile devices. The tool offers many different enterprise-class collaboration features including email, contacts, calendars, tasks and notes.

Web Hosts: SmarterTools offers three different options for web hosts looking to offer its products. Becoming a bundle provider enables those web hosts that want to bundle SmarterTools products within their current services without incurring costs. By becoming a reseller, web hosts can purchase SmarterTools software licenses and support at a discounted price and resell them at a profit. Finally, the lease-reseller option is designed for larger web hosts that already lease software and/or server space, and will receive software licenses at discounted monthly rates.

Zimbra

A screenshot of Zimbra's web interface taken from the Zimbra website

Customers: As a popular open-source alternative to Exchange, Zimbra Collaboration Server offers email and calendar functions, file sharing, tasks, contacts, social media, document management and simplified administrative controls all in a webmail user-intuitive interface built with AJAX web technology. The software, which can be deployed on Windows, Linux and Mac server hardware, also provides mobility and syncs to desktop client applications.

Web Hosts: Zimbra Collaboration Server is designed for multi-tenancy and re-branding. Web hosts can provide many additional feature options, assist with migrations, and provide integrations with other hosted applications of their choice. Other benefits include advanced compatibility with existing desktop email clients, over-the-air sync to smartphones, and better server scalability and more efficient administration.

Talk Back: Which email and collaboration software are you currently offering your customers? Are you satisfied with it or are you considering moving to another email and collaboration provider? Let us know in the comments section.

About the Author

Justin Lee has been a staff analyst with theWHIR since 2004. He writes about a range of web hosting and IT-related issues facing the industry on the WHIR website, as well the print version of the WHIR magazine. Follow him on Twitter @Justin_theWHIR.

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4 Comments

  1. David Warner

    Great article in regards to email and collaboration tools. On premise RHUB online collaboration appliances are very well integrated with Outlook and audio conferencing integration, wherein, when you send out invitation emails via Outlook for scheduled meetings, the system will automatically mark your calendar and have an option for your attendees to mark their calendars. The system also allows you to specify the audio conference call numbers and access code.

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  2. If your looking for advanced webmail features - be sure to also include Atmail in your evaluation. With open PHP source code and with complete backend, frontend and WebAdmin services, Atmail is a complete communications platform. From the Atmail website you can try the WebClient online or download the source to evaluate on your own server.

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  3. Marianna Mills

    I quickly assessed the capabilities of these systems, and I think this system could be useful to many companies. We also liked the free version http://www.teamwox.com and rich functionality and we would like to start working with him. Does anyone know how to export tasks from one system and import it into another?

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  4. SmarterMail from SmarterTools is definitely a recommended mail server for web host for it's stability, performance and administration. The built-in antispam engine if being configured properly can help web host or mail server administrator to filter off 97% of spam mails. With the integration of Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync to the mail server, users can now sync their emails through iPhone, iPad, SmartPhone and any tab which support the Microsoft ActiveSync technology. Enjoy 10% discount savings and FREE SSL certificate when you buy your SmarterMail license from Tweakservers @ http://www.tweakservers.com/products/mail-servers/smartermail/

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