602LAN SUITE Groupware, Sharpening the Swiss Army Knife
602LAN SUITE Groupware: Messaging server with collaboration features, firewall/proxy, and Outlook support. Sometimes a Swiss Army Knife is the the best tool for the job. 602LAN SUITE Groupware is a messaging server loaded up with collaboration features, firewall/proxy, and Outlook support. Is version 5 sharp enough for you?
Years of televised infomercials have developed a healthy skepticism in many of us when we hear the promise "but wait, there's more!" With its name alone, 602LAN SUITE Groupware seems to be bundling a lot of buzzwords. This combination e-mail server/proxy/firewall is an unusual feature set compared to more narrowly focused products, but sometimes a Swiss Army Knife is just the right tool for the job(s).
The 602LAN SUITE server software is a 90MB download that installs into a 150MB initial footprint. The standard Windows install wizard lets you choose between an existing IIS server for the LAN SUITE's Web and e-mail interface, or a bundled server included with the product. Once setup is complete, 602LAN SUITE is configured via the Web-based administration interface.
Redesigned for version 5, the administrative interface is slick and accessible. Although 602LAN SUITE combines a variety of somewhat unrelated services, it is easy to jump between configuring e-mail or the proxy server or the firewall thanks to a clean layout and logical configuration pages. Still, some of these configuration items can be technical, and the software doesn't handhold with wizards.
Broadly speaking, 602LAN SUITE includes an: e-mail server, anti-spam and anti-virus filters, network content filter, Web server, proxy server, NAT server (plus DHCP), LDAP server, FTP server and fax server. Although it supports many server functions, some of 602LAN SUITE's servers are more limited in configuration options than they might be in stand-alone products. For example, although the FTP server accepts connections from existing user accounts to the collaborative document storage, you cannot configure it to provide access to custom directories, define user privileges or create usage quotas as you would be able to with a typical third-party FTP server.
Similarly, the NAT and DHCP servers are also more streamlined (read: simple) than their stand-alone counterparts. All of which is by design. 602LAN SUITE is built to be a turnkey server that provides most basic network functions out of the box without a lot of fuss. Its central, and most sophisticated, module is its e-mail server, which is clearly intended to compete directly with Microsoft Exchange.
Like Exchange, 602LAN SUITE's mail server supports POP and IMAP (of course), plus shared calendars, contacts, documents and tasks. You can even access these collaborative features using Microsoft Outlook, thus making 602LAN SUITE suitable as an Exchange replacement. Note, however, that Outlook support requires using the Outlook Connector, which is priced separately at $30 for one user or $1,000 for unlimited users. Thunderbird users can share contacts without an extra charge.
These days, many Exchange server users actually use Microsoft Outlook Web. 602LAN SUITE has its own collaborative Web client, which is included with the suite. Users are not restricted to Internet Explorer, and enjoy full access to the mail and collaborative features. The Web client is well designed and behaves very much like a local client.
Sophisticated mail search is available through the Web client, and all mail both incoming and outgoing is archived to encrypted, read-only storage for legal backup.
Anti-spam filters are included with the suite, offering a mixture of defenses including Bayesian (learning) filters, whitelisting, blacklisting, real-time DNS blacklist (DNSBL) and attachment filters. The proxy server included with BitDefender can scan for viruses, but virus definitions must be licensed separately after the first year (pricing unavailable).
Despite 602LAN SUITE's unconventional range of bundled features, its core e-mail server is a solid platform worth the price of admission. The bundled extras are best thought of as just that &3151 extras, best used in support of the mail server.
Pros:Very accessible redesign; Full-featured e-mail server is easy to configure; powerful Web mail client.
Cons: Outlook connector costs extra; Other bundled server features limited in configurability compared to stand-alone products.
Reviewed by: Author
Original Review Date: 6/16/2008
Original Review Version: 5.0.08