LinuxPR: Illinois Company releases "The Little Blue Box" Email ServerApr 20, 2001, 22:30 (0 Talkback[s])
[ Thanks to Wahoo McDaniels for this link. ]
The scene plays out in offices all around the world. The phone rings and it is one of your employees or coworkers calling you to let you know that once again, an important email from the west coast seems to have vanished into the vapor that the Internet all too often appears to be. The usual questions run through your head. Did it get sent to the wrong email address? Did your ISP get the new accounts you requested set up in time? Was your ISP down again? Is your DSL or T1 connection still up? You grumble to yourself, 'I hate email.' But you know the truth is your business has trouble living without it. Email is as essential to a business today as a fax machine or a cell phone.
Speaking to the press this morning, Liz Heart PR officer of Little Blue Box announced, "Welcome to the world of The Little Blue Box (LLB). The LLB was designed by a group of Linux/Internet hackers to solve the issues confronted on a daily basis by small businesses around the world. These issues include: low cost, complete functionality, simplicity in ease of use and reliability. Our goal is nothing less than having our appliance replace the need for the Microsoft Exchange Server in the small business environment. And mind you, to do it with a appliance that has a price threshold starting at $689."
With the Version 1.0 build, we are about 75%-80% down that path. 1.0 addresses the basic Email needs of the small business. Version 1.1, due out shortly, will jump significantly to matching most of the functionality of Exchange used by most small businesses today; including work lists, Jabber Instant Messaging, some aspects of unified messaging and a very good calendar server. Our 2.0 version is our long-term goal (no date set) that will address the issue of a unified contact database.
The server falls into the category of a 'headless toaster'. It is about as simple as you can get as it is fully functional when you take it out of the shipping box. You plug it into power, you plug it into the local LAN, and it works.
There are two user interfaces included with the system. The first is a custom created interface that is simple enough for a secretary with basic computer skills to be creating, modifying and removing email users from the server; in under 10 minutes. The second user interface is a version of WebMin, for use by experienced administrators. This second interface allows the admin to use the appliance for other functions such as a intranet web server.
Where we leave Microsoft Exchange panting a proverbial cloud of dust, is in the level of ongoing support available, and the user license issue.
For a $200.00 a year subscription, we will provide secondary MX services, as well as an automated RPM service that will update the system software on a quarterly basis. $200.00 a year prevents email from disappearing into the vapor if a T1 goes down, or God forbid the server goes down. Email is always routed onto the server of our ISP partner. That same $200.00 a year keeps the OS and server-ware current.
In terms of that license, it is all Open Source and Open Standards base. Any FREE email or IM client can be used with the system. The number of users is bandwidth and hardware centric, not based on a license. So, if you need the ability to actually have 11 people access your server at the same moment, you save something like $20,000 on license fees Microsoft would charge for the 100 User Exchange license.
We want everyone aware that the OS (Linux) and all the software on the appliance are 100% Open Source. What makes this product unique is the way we build the OS and server-ware for a niche product use. Our price performance level can ONLY be done because of the fact that Open Source has allowed us the ability to design this product with specific functionality in mind, and with free code too boot. We hope that this will set an example of the power of Open Source on the current IT business model.
We are also being very forthright in our desire NOT to become a major hardware manufacturer. At an entry price of $689.00 on a none-embedded system, everyone can calculate out just how little we are making on the system. Our long-term niche is to provide our MX and RPM service, and NOT sell hardware. We are letting it be known to all manufacturers of Linux systems that we will be happy to give them free license to our build. There are few conditions. We do not own the OS and software anyway, so manufacturer's could just go get it themselves. However, because we are offering this to them free, we have already had several inquiries.