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Enterprise Groupware Products

Finally, we compared list prices. Microsoft's licensing is cheapest at $67 for each Client Access License. Novell's GroupWise is less expensive than Domino when purchased in smaller quantities (500 licenses) and slightly more expensive for greater quantities (5,000 licenses). IBM's pricing was the highest of the three, approximately $42 more per license than Microsoft's product at smaller quantities. Maintenance contracts and other discounts could affect the cost per license (see the features chart on page 64 for a pricing breakdown).

Our Editor's Choice award went to IBM's Lotus Domino 6.5. Domino has the easiest user administration interface, and it includes more built-in functionality than its competitors. Domino's application development is standards-based and multiplatform, and the client software is infinitely configurable. Although the Domino software lets you develop on a production server, that's not a good idea.

Microsoft finished close on IBM's heels. Exchange is capable of building a top-notch collaborative environment--but you must be willing to invest in the half-dozen applications necessary to fully implement it and to purchase the right hardware to run it on.

Novell's GroupWise seems to be playing catch-up in a number of areas. For example, its application tools are nearly nonexistent. And though GroupWise is mature, the client isn't as refined as the other two.

Not surprisingly, all three packages are outstanding groupware platforms. This threesome has been around long enough that basic features, such as e-mail and calendaring, are old hat. We did find several important differences, though, that will affect how people use and modify the products. For instance, in application development, only Domino comes with a built-in programming platform and all the tools needed to develop customized applications right out of the box. Exchange offers the popular .Net development suite, and Novell provides a basic package for tweaking functionality. A number of third-party packages, including Advansys' Formativ, are available for further enhancing GroupWise.

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