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Options For Good (Not Expensive) Office Backbone For a Small Startup 204

Posted by timothy
from the office-with-small-o-is-fine dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I recently joined a startup, we have about 10 people altogether in various roles / responsibilities, and I handle most of the system / IT responsibilities (when I'm not in my primary role, which is software development). When trying to price licenses, I'm finding Microsoft offerings require quite a bit of upfront cost, so I'm trying the alternative solutions. LibreOffice and Google Docs work fine for the most part (we also have some MS Office users); however I'm having trouble getting a good / cheap / free solution to email, contacts, calendaring and user management in general. We have some Mac users, Windows users, need desktop clients for most of these uses as well — and there doesn't seem to be a solution that satisfies these myriad combinations." (Read more, below.)
Our submitter continues: iCloud doesn't natively support non @me.com addresses (workarounds seem prone to breakage so far), Windows Live Mail doesn't support Google's CalDAV, there doesn't seem to be anything that can provide a company-wide Contacts support, etc. Ideally I can deploy a solution that has the following: Sharing calendar (or look at other people's calendar), Company-wide Contacts Address Book, Add new employee / consultants and take them offline too (in terms of user permissions, access), Clients available on Windows, OSX, possibly mobile, which support the calendaring / meeting invites / contacts list set up. Maybe I'm just out of my depths here — can Slashdot provide some direction as to what I can look at? Or is a Hosted Exchange the cheapest option? Disclaimer: I did come from a company that uses Exchange / Outlook — but the costs seem high."
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Options For Good (Not Expensive) Office Backbone For a Small Startup

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  • by rsmith84 (2540216) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @10:36AM (#40087707)
    What's the global consensus? Is everyone open to outside-the-box solutions? Or do they want the "comfort" and "warm fuzzy feeling" of Microsoft familiarity?
    • You should be modded up to 11 because THAT is it in a nutshell. Sure you can go cheap, even free, but you ARE going to have a bit of a learning curve and users will have to learn new things as well. If they aren't willing to do this then honestly you really don't have a choice, because if they want it "just like Exchange" well then your only choice is exchange friend, it would be like saying "We want it to be just like photoshop" and then expecting you to pull it off with something like Corel Draw. it just ain't gonna happen unless you have support from on high and the users are willing to learn along with you.

      As far as an answer to the question Google apps and Zimbra I've heard good things about but since i know longer do corp I can't tell you how close they are to Exchange. Sadly the best answer I'd found is no longer available, Xandros Server was $500 flat and no user CALs and to the users it felt a hell of a lot like Exchange, they had even bought licenses to a lot of the MSServer APIs so it would function as a member server in a domain. it was about as plug and play with MSFT software as I had ever seen but although their website still exists its just a zombie, the company has been dead since 09.

      • by jimicus (737525)

        Google Apps isn't bad; they give you a plugin for Outlook which works quite nicely.

      • by sjames (1099)

        There is truth in that, but this is a 10 person startup. 10 Whole people. If they're going to demand enterprise style IT, perhaps working at a startup isn't for them.

        • It's funny. I've done enterprise IT for a good long while. About 13 years. And now I do startups. And the thing that really shocked me was that even the little guys have "enterprise-style" needs. It's kind of funny, really. And the way enterprise IT vendors work, they lock out the little guys. I'm quite suspicious that there is a good market out there for bringing enterprise-level capabilities to small business.
        • by mu51c10rd (187182)

          Ever work for a plce leaving the startup phase? When that 10 person startup becomes 50 people...there is a collection of random operating systems, applications, and software installed that the larger base now expects to work together. I recommend the hosted Exchange option...it scales nicely if that startup gets large. Google Apps is nice and all, until you get larger and have departments who like their resource scheduling and active sync functionality of Exchange. Migrations are a pain...so I recommend pla

          • by sjames (1099)

            If they spend all their bux on software licenses more appropriate to the enterprise, the only transition they will have to worry about is the one from startup to firesale.

    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      The users will just say "Microsoft Office" or "Lotus Notes" and those have already been struckout as too costly. QUOTE: "good / cheap / free solution to email, contacts, calendaring and user management in general?"

      Mozilla seaMonkey has all of those. Or you could try the individually separate programs of Firefox, Thunderbird, et cetera. Or maybe OPERA which has not only those functions but also online support for storage.

    • The problem with solutions other the MS Office is that you will have issues with interacting with people outside your company.

      Just do the partner thing and go with a barebones MS Office (PP, Word, Excel).

      The other stuff can be handled using GMail or an internal IMAP server etc.

      • I'm in the same position in a small business (so we're no longer a start-up after 10+ years), and after trying the "free" software route for a while I went back to all MS. 90% of the people you hire come "pre-trained" in your typical Office applications, and the savings in training cost (my time and their time) easily pays for the licenses.
        • I'm in the same position in a small business (so we're no longer a start-up after 10+ years), and after trying the "free" software route for a while I went back to all MS. 90% of the people you hire come "pre-trained" in your typical Office applications, and the savings in training cost (my time and their time) easily pays for the licenses.

          It probably depends on a lot of factors like location and the product/service, but I would think in today's job market you could just hire people who are more familiar with non-Microsoft products to avoid the training issue completely. Unfortunately the submitter already works with several other people so it might already be too late for that.

      • by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @11:51AM (#40088959) Homepage

        "The problem with solutions other the MS Office is that you will have issues with interacting with people outside your company."

        This old lie again.

        No you dont. WE have been on Open Office/Libre Office for over 3 years now here and have ZERO problems "interacting with people outside your company". WE can save as office format and read office format.

        In fact we have less problems than one of our customers who is still on Office 2003.

        • Yet...

          The amount of problems you get really depends on what you are sending and what your customer needs.
          I had experience mostly in terms of Calendar Sharing. Some of it has been fixed. but I randomly got that Calendar Invite that only work in Outlook.

          But these problems are smaller now then when I had the bulk of the issues, mostly due to the popularity on Non-Microsoft Cell phones, where you can say I am not using a Microsoft product and not look like you are cheeping out your organization.

          • by msobkow (48369)

            I'd like to know what perverse little-used function people are talking about, because I and many people I know have used OpenOffice/LibreOffice for years with zero problems. The first release of OpenOffice had some formatting issues, but those were ironed out by the first dot release.

            As with the GP, I have seen far more problems with people stuck on Office 2K3 or Office 2K than I have with OpenOffice/LibreOffice.

            Oh, wait! Maybe you're one of the people who embeds sound effects in a PowerPoint to the

        • by hawguy (1600213) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @01:13PM (#40090407)

          "The problem with solutions other the MS Office is that you will have issues with interacting with people outside your company."

          This old lie again.

          No you dont. WE have been on Open Office/Libre Office for over 3 years now here and have ZERO problems "interacting with people outside your company". WE can save as office format and read office format.

          In fact we have less problems than one of our customers who is still on Office 2003.

          You must have pretty lightweight document/spreadsheet needs when sharing documents externally. I use Libreoffice at home but regularly need to remote desktop into a Windows machine at work to use MS Office because Libreoffice doesn't always work well with Office documents and spreadsheets. Word Docs aren't always formatted correctly and if I want to print it at home, I need to fix it up, or if I make edits and send it to someone else, they'll sometimes need to fix up the doc. Likewise, many spreadsheets don't even work at all with Libreoffice (for example, I can't complete an expense report spreadsheet required by our Finance Department because none of the macros work). We send and receive documents from external agencies, and I just can't see using LibreOffice to save a document when I don't know what it's going to look like on the other end.

          Here's some of the challenges LibreOffice has with MS Office docs:

          http://help.libreoffice.org/Common/About_Converting_Microsoft_Office_Documents [libreoffice.org]

          If your entire office is on LibreOffice, I can see it working well within the office, but once you start sharing documents with external partners, I'm really surprised you've had zero problems.

          • by coolmadsi (823103)

            Word Docs aren't always formatted correctly and if I want to print it at home, I need to fix it up, or if I make edits and send it to someone else, they'll sometimes need to fix up the doc.

            Is this a problem limited to Libre/Open Office, or just Word Docs in general? I have heard about formatting issues when opening a .doc file in a different Office version to the one it was written in.

            Out of interest, would sharing documents as PDFs externally be better, or do documents usually need editing externally as well? What about rich text format (.rtf) - editable and opens well enough in Word and Libre/Open Office (last time I checked, anyway). I'm unsure of the limitation of this compared to .doc a

          • by WebCowboy (196209)

            If your entire office is on LibreOffice, I can see it working well within the office, but once you start sharing documents with external partners, I'm really surprised you've had zero problems.

            It seems that the requirement to share complex documents with external recipients in Microsoft Office format is rapidly declining in my experience. In my work I am more and more discouraged to share word documents for example--it is preferred that those be kept internally and that they be put into PDF format to be sent out. The same goes for spreadsheets in many cases too. When such documents ARE widely distributed they tend to be fairly crude or simplistic--Excel spreadsheets that are basically checklis

    • Don't forget your customer needs. A lot of these tools are 99% Microsoft office compatible... That means 3 to 4 time a year you will have some issue that will require Microsoft to fix the issue, or the data that you give to your customer just doesn't load right for them.

      Telling them that they should try this free software put extra burden on your customers and that isn't good. I am not saying go all out with a Microsoft Solution... But I am stating you should understand the abilities and infrastructure you

      • by cayenne8 (626475)

        Telling them that they should try this free software put extra burden on your customers and that isn't good. I am not saying go all out with a Microsoft Solution... But I am stating you should understand the abilities and infrastructure your customers use. As a consideration.

        Well, starting out...have maybe ONE MS computer, with legal copies of office..etc...to use when the opensource you use won't work with that odd document that you just can't open or use with an opensource solution. I'm guessing for a s

    • by Vancorps (746090)

      One thing not mentioned is that Microsoft offers hosted Exchange and Office which is significantly easier to afford and maintains that warm fuzzy a lot of people have with the environment. Of course the first question as always is, what platform are most people familiar with already? Odds are they should be the target otherwise you spend a lot of time retraining which may be completely unnecessary.

      In terms of a start-up, if you have a funding source they will see it as a reasonable expenditure and feel mor

    • by darrylo (97569)

      The easiest is to just go with some hosting solution, as maintaining your own server is going to be a lot of work (upgrades, backups, security issues, etc., etc.).

      For hosted solutions, I'd look into either google apps or microsoft's office365. Office365 (maybe $72/user/year) might not be quite as cheap as google's offering ($50/user/year), but it seems to be a surprisingly viable alternative to google apps. The only possible issue that I've found with office365 is that password aging is turned on. Not on

  • zimbra (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @10:37AM (#40087719)

    Zimbra I believe does most if not all of what you are looking for.

  • More Google (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Have you considered Google Apps? It is free for up to 10 users. You can use Thunderbird with a couple of plugins to handle the desktop client or just have your people use the web apps which are very good.

  • Google for Business? (Score:4, Informative)

    by MatrixCubed (583402) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @10:39AM (#40087785) Homepage
    http://www.google.com/enterprise/apps/business/pricing.html [google.com] At $5/user/month, it's decently priced.
  • by HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @10:40AM (#40087805)
    Become a Partner. You get pretty much all of their software for 10 desktops and a couple of servers for less than $500 a year.
    • by Gwala (309968) <.ten.alawg. .ta. .mada.> on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @10:41AM (#40087847) Homepage

      Yep - the magic words to google are "Microsoft Action Pack Subscription" - for startups it's great. Tons of useful software for cheap. You may also qualify for BizSpark which is even better (and cheaper - although $500 isnt too bad.)

    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      I'm amazed how many people are saying Microsoft. In essence you're saying Open Source solutions shouldn't even exist, because they are a non-starter. No wonder Intel and MS continues to hold a monopoly over the OS and Apps and computer platform since ~1988.

      • I don't think he's saying that Open-Source alternatives are a non-starter.. there's Zimbra and others available that are serviceable, I've been using a commercial mail app (SmarterMail) for windows for several years now. The fact is, I have yet to see a solution that integrates as well with a client app as Exchange + Outlook. Especially in terms of collaboration between users, managing other's calendars/tasks, etc. It isn't *my* first choice, but it's a really compelling one. The hosted Office 365 solut
      • Would you also be amazed to discover that Microsoft holds a monopoly because its products are better than the competition's?

        • by cpu6502 (1960974)

          >>>Would you also be amazed to discover that Microsoft holds a monopoly because its products are better than the competition's?

          Yes.
          I don't see how IE is any better than Firefox, seaMonkey, or Opera. Or Lotus Notes better than Thunderbird. I don't see how Office is any better than OpenOffice.org or LibreOffice. I don't see how WMP is any better than VLC Player or Winamp. I don't see how MS Torrent... oh wait they don't have that... well I use uTorrent.

          About the only Microsoft product I use at ho

      • by Dan541 (1032000)

        Because Open Source solutions just don't cut it. Intel and Microsoft are successful by providing the best quality products.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      if he's really a small startup, there's no reason why he shouldn't get the stuff for free from MS, so he should join bizspark. a free sub for two years(and you'll get to keep the sw now too after the two years, at least that's what they told us), possibly even free swag(they were giving away windows phones last winter for example..). there's some free azure time thrown in now too..

      http://www.microsoft.com/bizspark/SoftwareAndTools/ [microsoft.com]

    • by Builder (103701)

      Your sig... Care to expand ?

      I can't even find my original of that LP any more :(

  • by DaMattster (977781) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @10:41AM (#40087843)
    I would recommend checking out Sogo. [www.sogo.nu] This would provide a good groupware solution. In their upcoming version, 2.0, it will have some goodies like Exchange Server emulation so it will integrate well with those using Outlook. For collaboration, you can check out Alfresco. [alfresco.org] As for a common identity management solution therein lies the trick. If you are brave, you can check out using Samba4 and configure all of your clients to authenticate against their version of Active Directory. The Samba [samba.org] wiki has some good instructions on that. I know that there is an open source software package that helps integrate Linux with Active Directory but I cannot remember its name. It does get packaged with Ubuntu, however. Hope this helps some .....
  • If you meet the requirements, why don't you do BizSpark [microsoft.com]?

    Pretty sure Google Apps for Business also meets your requirements, but it's around $50 per year per user.

  • When facing that much cross-platform usage, Id go with Google Docs/Calander/Chat/Gmail for simplicity and ease of use. Its somewhat feature-light, but would provide the broad base and low cost you are looking for. It probably will never be Great, but it may be Good Enough, at least until the startup grows enough to make larger, more expensive packages worth it.
  • I didn't see you mention Google Apps [google.com]. My company (500'ish people) are all on Google Apps and I really like it. Plus its free for up to 10 users, so you could at least give it a test drive. It integrates email, calendar, docs, and contacts all into one package (with names shared between each).

  • Google Docs (Score:4, Insightful)

    by C_Kode (102755) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @10:43AM (#40087875) Journal

    You said Google Docs works fine for the most part, but the Gmail / Calendaring portion doesn't work?

    We are a startup (about 25 employees) and Google Docs works fine for Email and Calendaring.

    • by aaarrrgggh (9205)

      Completely agree. We're at 25-30 people now, but gmail was what saved us in our early years. We actually bought a Windows Server SMB edition, but never got around to installing it. We used a NAS box for the first 366 days until it crapped out on us. (Lesson-- after 90 days we should have bought a redundant NAS to work with cashflow...)

      Today we have to reconsider if gmail is worth the price, and we have proper file servers with redundant snapshots and all that fun stuff. But when $15 matters, gmail is t

  • by Bourdain (683477) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @10:44AM (#40087883)
    ...in terms of real cost, my guess is that even if you buy whatever licenses you need/want from Microsoft for whatever software you have a need for, it won't really be that expensive compared to irritating your users (also, just use hosted exchange as $10/month/user should be a non-issue).

    Before making any decisions, I'd consider asking your admittedly tiny user base what software/suites they need/want instead of just making blind purchasing decisions
    • This can't be stressed enough. Pay a premium for the highest level of service and support you can get. I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but if you actually have money (as opposed to ten guys bootstrapping the business on cheetos and tap water) it will cost you less than the time you spend to get it done, and it WILL NOT BE YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to keep it running smoothly. Never underestimate the time it takes to manage such a system if it's not your core function.

      Think of it this way - your billing rate

    • *This*, IT loves to be penny wise and pound foolish.

      Software is cheap. All software is practically free. If your employees are bringing in $100-$200 an hour then if the infrastructure costs $200 per employee it's .1% of their revenue. If it costs then 1 minute per *WEEK* then the difference between a free and $100 program pays for itself over the course of a year.

  • by Neil_Brown (1568845) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @10:45AM (#40087911) Homepage

    I've only used mine (and that's a Snow Leopard Server, not Lion) at home, but it would seem to support a lot of what you are asking for, including, I believe, workgroup management for Windows users. You'd need to find clients which would talk to the various server-side applications, and I'm afraid I've no experience of that.

    Again from memory, and I may be wrong, my recollection is that Lion Server does not require client licences, so, once you've bought the box, and installed the software, you can connect as many people as it will handle, which might help keep costs down.

    • Perhaps I should have said: calendaring uses CalDAV, and the address book uses CardDAV — whether or not there are Outlook connectors / addons for these, I don't know, but there appear to be at least some Windows-based clients for each (Cal [calconnect.org], Card [calconnect.org]). Although whether your userbase would want to use these rather than Outlook is perhaps more questionable.

  • by blahbooboo (839709) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @10:46AM (#40087927)

    Just use Google Apps. Provides email, calendaring, etc all integrated and very inexpensive.

  • This program is designed for small business/startups. Check it out, gives you internal use of almost the entire Microsoft lineup. http://www.microsoft.com/oem/en/community/mpn/pages/microsoft_action_pack.aspx [microsoft.com]
  • Have you had a look at Zarafa [zarafa.com]? It's an open source replacement for exchange which handles email, calendaring and contacts. If you ran a server with this then your co-workers could connect with their favourite mail client/calender app, or use the webclient. It also supports Z-push which works like active sync for use with android and windows mobile devices.

    I have an instance of it running on a custom built mythbuntu PVR at home to provide me with something other than google calendar to use with my android.

    Th

    • by darrylo (97569)

      Zarafa doesn't seem too bad, but I think it's positively stone age when it comes to mail filtering. Zimbra is much better in this, as is google apps or a hosted exchange solution (like office365).

  • we have about 10 people

    You're not sure how many people work at your company?

  • I just moved a smaller business (about 40 people) to zentyal. http://www.zentyal.org/ [zentyal.org] includes all sorts of features, like a PDC if you want one, ldap for user management, vpn, groupware (uses zarafa, which is excellent) and many, many other features.

  • Definitely ask your users what they want to use. However, they're all going to say something different. You won't be able to make them all happy and certainly not for cheap/free. You may just have to pick one solution that everyone can live with and standardize the network in that solution. "Oh, you can't use $OTHER_DEVICE with our free solution? Well, you can either buy a copy yourself or use the solution we all agreed on." Supporting many different platforms is difficult and can be expensive.

  • 10 people you shouldn't be thinking about managing your own servers. just pay for google docs or office 365.

    from what i heard office is a lot better than google docs, but i never used it

  • Cloud Hosting not only saves your money with licenses and hardware, but you also save money with backing up your data. Our company doesn't use Cloud Hosting, and it gets very expensive with all the equipment we have to maintain and license. We also have to maintain DR servers in-case of catastrophic failure. But the drawback to Cloud Hosting is raw processing/network speed, unless you can afford a very high speed Fiber WAN.
  • Have you checked out Horde [horde.org]? I think it does everything you're asking, except the desktop client.

    The needing of a desktop client is, I think, your toughest requirement. If you can let that one go, it's easy.

  • I know people hate this stuff... it's microsoft and thus evil... but if you want a user friendly, feature rich, small business email server... It's honestly pretty good.

    I'm sure there are free linux alternatives... if you want go with one of them. I'm sure they're great too. I have a lot of experience with exchange and outlook. They're really good at what they do. And while it probably won't scale to google gmail levels it's actually very good even in enterprises.

    Do what you like but I like exchange.

  • If you want Exchange, it's worth looking at SBS - it's pretty much all you'd need, and it works fine with mobile. Not sure about how OSX would play on the domain though.

  • I just set up office365 for my Dad's small business. It costs $6/user/month if you just want email and online editing of word+excel+ppt, or $20/user/month if you want desktop versions of the software as well. (Both offer free trials). That's not a big upfront cost at all!

  • by vanye (7120) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @12:09PM (#40089259)

    As a founder of two startups we're been here multiple times. Here's what I've found.

    Google (email and docs) works okay for very early stage (engineering only - no sales/marketing people - little need to communicate outside of the company).

    As we got closer to launch and hired more outbound people we moved to using Hosted Exchange (Intermedia.net). Outlook is the driving force here, I have code to write and don't want to spend my expensive time fixing email/calendar/desktop support issues.

    For Office applications we joined the Microsoft ISV program where we get 10 licenses for all their office products for about $400 per year. That also includes MSDN access so engineering can use Visual Studio.

    Engineering does not use Office, all internal engineering documents are on the hosted Wiki (Atlassian) - but the hosted Exchange comes with an Outlook license so developers use that. I will neither help or hinder the use of anything else.

    Everyone uses Windows on their laptop - using VMware Workstation to run the Linux VMs used for development.

    We run the entire business on hosted services (Intermedia, Atlassian, JungleDisk (backup) and VirtualPBX). Our monthly bill is ~$600 for a 25 person startup - core engineering is now about half the company.

    We have ~60 servers - but all are for dev and test, there is no "IT overhead"

    The issue is not that you can't make it something else work - but why ? Unless you're developing an office or email software its just not a good use of your expensive (unique) resources. The goal of your company should be to efficiently sell more of your products to people that are likely using Microsoft products (at least the decision makers). So for maximum interoperability and profession appearance use the products your customers are using.

    (I use a Mac, but I cannot use it for anything for external communication (PowerPoint, Word etc) - somethings just look different to the Windows version (fonts, text positioning etc). Not all the time, but enough to make it unusable from a professional appearance point of view.

  • Seems like Microsoft has created a product to fit the exact scenario you are in with Office 365. They provide hosted Exchange, Sharepoint (and Lync if you like it enough to use it). As I recall, it's about $100/user/year If you can live with web based everything or about $250/user/year if you want the full Office Professional desktop suite as well.
    • by darrylo (97569)

      A small business office365 account is $6/user/month or $72/user/year (up to 50 users). If you're willing to go email/calendars only, it's $4/user/month.

  • Zimbra fits your roll perfectly. It's able to scale to the levels of the University I work at, so I'm sure it could handle a 10 man team.

    It also supports ActiveSync pushing so it can automatically send appointments to your iPad/iPhone/Android device etc. It also web browser based so no need for a stand alone email client (but you could still use one if you wish).

    Also, you can view other peoples Calendars, etc.. and push invites to those people (which my boss does.. she'll push out maintenance calls etc to a

  • Take a look at Office 365. The small business plan costs $6 per user per month. It provides email, a web browser Office suite, an external web site, intranet sites, etc. For those users that need Office client installations, you can add Office Professional Plus for $15 per user per month (or $12 if you have the enterprise plan). I've been told that you don't need to add Office Professional Plus for everyone. You can reduce your costs by choosing who gets it and who doesn't. It's easy. The Office suit
  • What is really heartening to me, by the way, is how our own users are embracing alternatives -- in fact, we are moving to iPads and Android tablets after years of buying standard Dell and Gateway laptops with MS Office installed. I still use a laptop, but I run OpenSuse Linux on it and LibreOffice is plenty good enough for everything that I do in my job (engineering management).

    Now, just a few years ago, if I'd tried to get anyone to try anything other than XP or Vista with MS Office, they would have compla

  • Is to use the mail system included with most web hosting deals, the always give multiple options (IMAP, POP3, Etc) plus lots of extras. Then use T-bird, Firefox, Libra Office, Ubuntu for your desktop/laptop and pick up at least one of the many 2+ terabyte NAS devices tat can be had for less than $300 (backup & user files).

  • 10 people

    user management

    What is wrong in this picture? Or, to be more blunt, what are the real intentions of posting this question here?

  • Are you the "grab as much money from investors and run" kind of startup? Then it doesn't matter.

    If you are the "we want to build a sustainable business" kind of startup, then please as fast as you can, get rid of the cancer of "Office" software. Those packages probably are the biggest productivity robber you can have.
    Then make sure you have all your data in open, preferably text-based formats.

    Believe me, in a few years you'll be thanking me when either smarter start-ups with automation compete with you, or

  • Have you tried Bedework [jasig.org]?

    Bedework is an open-source enterprise calendar system that supports public, personal, and group calendaring. It is designed to conform to current calendaring standards [jasig.org] with a goal of attaining strong interoperability between other calendaring systems and clients. Bedework is built with an emphasis on higher education, though it can be (and is) used by many commercial enterprises.

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