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Ipswitch Collaboration Suite

Ipswitch Collaboration Suite (ICS) offers an easy-to-use email and collaboration solution for small-to-midsized businesses (SMBs). Most organizations will want to choose between ICS Standard Edition or ICS Premium Edition, both of which offer email, Instant Messaging (IM), and a WorkgroupShare server that provides group-calendaring capabilities.

Installation was easy but awkward: Each tool had its own Setup program. Administration also seemed piecemeal, using three management tools that didn't provide as much integration as I'd have liked. Calendaring required the installation of the clientsetup.exe program on each client system.

The product's email capabilities were robust and easy to use, handling all the major duties you'd expect, plus providing a Web mail interface and antispam and antivirus technologies. Because ICS stores incoming email in simple disk files, email backup was easy, requiring nothing more than a simple file copy. The IM server provided instant, synchronized communications between clients; a built-in spell-checker; and the ability to save IM transcripts. The WorkgroupShare function integrates completely with Microsoft Outlook calendaring, letting users share Outlook data, use calendars, and schedule meetings. Unfortunately, you have to manage the email and calendaring administration utilities separately. However, ICS does have an option to import users from Active Directory (AD).

Ipswitch Collaboration Suite
Contact: Ipswitch * 781-676-5700 or 800-793-4825
Price: Standard edition starts at $1295 for 25 seats; premium edition starts at $1495 for 25 seats
Pros: Easy to use; provides full email and calendaring capabilities
Cons: Separate installation steps and management components for email, IM, and calendaring
Rating: 4 out of 5
Recommendation: A good choice for SMBs that want the email and calendaring capabilities (but not the complexity) of Exchange.
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