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Xandros acquires open-source e-mail vendor Scalix
Jul. 18, 2007

Analysis -- Xandros CEO Andy Typaldos told that his Ottawa-based Linux desktop and server company has acquired privately owned open-source e-mail and calendaring provider Scalix under terms that were undisclosed.

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Xandros took over the San Mateo, Calif., company starting the week of July 9, Typaldos said. Scalix President and CEO Glenn Winokur will stay through the transition only and become a member of the Xandros advisory board. Vice president of finance Walter Lim will also leave the company; the sales support staff and the staff of engineers—a total of about 13 people—will all stay on with Xandros, Typaldos said.

Xandros, a well-regarded, full-featured Linux distribution, was founded in 2001 by the late Dr. Frederick (Rick) Berenstein, and also has offices in New York, Frankfurt and Sao Paulo. With the acquisition, the privately owned company will have nearly 100 employees, Typaldos said.

Scalix, founded by Julie Hanna Farris in 2002, has more than 1 million mailboxes deployed worldwide, and over 675 corporate customers deployed in 55 countries, the spokesperson said.

"The deal with Xandros went fairly quickly, as far as these things go," Winokur told "We had already been partners, with Scalix integrated into Xandros ... Xandros' engineering power is going to continue to benefit the work we have done."

Winokur, who said he hasn't yet formulated plans for a new job, said that the main message he wanted to get across to Scalix customers was that, "nothing is really going to change. The interoperability of Scalix on Xandros, Red Hat, SUSE Linux and other distributions will remain exactly the same."

Scalix has three versions of its OpenMail-based e-mail suite: Enterprise Edition, Small Business Edition and Community Edition.

Enterprise Edition is aimed at enterprises of all sizes, including Fortune 1000 companies, a spokesperson said. Small Business Edition provides a single-server solution for small and midsize businesses, and the company's freely downloadable Community Edition is designed for cost-conscious organizations who need basic e-mail and calendaring.

Scalix has recorded more than 130,000 Community Edition downloads and has about 5,300 active members in its community forum.

"We were really looking to build up our 'solution stack,' you might say," Typaldos told "We started with the [Xandros] desktop, now we have both the SMB and enterprise servers, and the management tools to run them all. The idea is to have a solution set that is rich and already functional with everything we do."

If you're building an end-to-end solution, Typaldos said, "one of the most important components—in addition to the desktop server and management tools—is e-mail. Having an e-mail server would be a huge benefit to have in an end-to-end solutions stack. In the [open-source] market right now, the leader has been Scalix."

Xandros worked about a year ago to integrate the Scalix e-mail server into its desktop and server so that it has the same look and feel as the rest of the desktop, Typaldos said.

"So now, we will have already integrated the products, and now we're looking to add significant dimensions to it," Typaldos said. "We're talking now to all of Scalix's partners and customers, and the ones we've spoken with think it's a great idea, because all of a sudden you now have tighter integration between e-mail, server and the underlying servers and operating systems."

The acquisition brings one of the most important elements of the stack all under one roof, Typaldos said.

"We're increasing the ability of Scalix to deliver more features and capability because now it's part of a much larger engineering team. So it's good for Scalix and their customers; it's good for the employees; and it's very good for Xandros because it fulfills our vision of being and end-to-end solutions company," Typaldos said.

Scalix recently signed a partnership agreement with Xandros competitor Red Hat Linux to join that company's Red Hat Exchange sales channel and VAR distribution organization, but Typaldos said that wouldn't affect Xandros—at least in the short term.

"Scalix is an independent brand, and will be a subsidiary of Xandros. It will continue to support Red Hat and all the other [Linux] platforms," Typaldos said. "Particularly since our management tools are already oriented to supporting other platforms, anything we do [new] with Scalix is going to essentially be available at the same time for every platform."

Scalix has offices and distribution partners in North America, Europe and the Pacific Rim and sells its products directly and through Linux resellers worldwide. Scalix has a busy reseller channel with more than 250 VARs that sell, deploy and support the Scalix enterprise messaging platform, working directly with Scalix or through Scalix master distributors.

It is rare for a Linux-only company to acquire another company. Red Hat's acquisition of open-source database maker JBoss in April 2006 was the last major acquisition by a Linux company.

Xandros has made other news recently. On June 4, the company signed a set of broad collaboration agreements with Microsoft that include an intellectual property assurance under which Microsoft will provide patent covenants for Xandros customers.

These covenants, which are almost identical to the patent agreement and covenant not to sue that Microsoft signed with Novell last November, will ensure that the Xandros Linux technologies that customers use are compliant with Microsoft's intellectual property.

--Chris Preimesberger

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