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Collax Hits North American SMB Shores

Collax Business Server Targets the SMB Space

  • August 16, 2006
  • By Brian Proffitt

In a LinuxWorld that seems very dedicated to interoperability and virtualization topics, one unique product announcement thus far has been the US launch of the Collax Business Server Tuesday.

Already well-established in the European market, the small- to medium-sized business server is kicking off in the US and Canadian markets today, trying to fill a niche that many in the industry feel needs filling right away: a viable alternative to Microsoft Small Business Server.

What Collax brings to the SMB table is a streamlined set of applications that focus on the tools that SMBs need most. Instead of providing end-users with multiple versions of a given service--say, an e-mail server--the Collax Business Server product will just have one mail application onboard. This approach ties into the company's "Simply Linux" tagline, and is apparent throughout all of Collax's products: one application per service, all across the board.

The net result of this is a server that only has 230 applications available, as opposed to other distros that may have thousands of applications to choose from. Doing it this way "reduces the complexity of setting up and maintaining Linux," according to Olaf Jacobi, CEO.

Thus far, this approach has proven to be successful in Europe, and with today's announcement, Collax will be trying their plan in the US and Canada, positioning themselves directly up against Microsoft Small Business Server.

But will what plays well in Europe play well on this side of the pond? If anything, Jacobi said, Collax should see more success in North America. "The press and analysts here are much more interested in the SMB space than in Europe."

Part of Collax's commercial model has been to leverage value-added reseller (VARs) who typically deal with Microsoft solutions. It is a plan they hope to repeat here. Resellers, the Collax team has observed, prefer to have alternative products to sell to their customers, regardless of any brand loyalty to Microsoft.

Besides, according to Paula Hunter, VP of North America Marketing, any VAR that has been around more than 10 years and has been commercially successful will have sold non-Microsoft solutions anyway. Those VARs will be very inclined to try a viable solution. Other, newer VARs will see the Collax solution being offered by the competition for larger margins and will want to work with Collax as well.

Hunter, who came to Collax earlier this year, has been most impressed with the depth of Collax's business acumen. "This is a very young company with a very mature business process."

That, Jacobi says, is a key to Collax's potential success. But what it really boils down to is that the market is very ready for a product like the Collax Business Server.

"The question is no longer 'why Linux,'" Jacobi concluded. "Now it's 'why not'?"

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