Kerio Workspace - first look


2012/04/09

Kerio® Workspace is no longer sold or available as a free edition. However, everything mentioned here can be done with Kerio Samepage, which is available through me at a reduced price..

Kerio Workspace is a product that desperately needs an "elevator pitch". Everything else that Kerio sells is simple to explain: Connect is a mail server, Control is a firewall, and Operator programs phone systems. But what is Workspace?

At one of Kerio's own pages they say "Like Box and Google Docs, except it rocks". The trouble with that is that is that many, many people have no idea what Box or Google Docs are. Worse, while Workspace is somewhat similar to Box (http://Box.com), it really doesn't have much in common with Google Docs, which could further confuse people who are familiar with that but have never heard of Box.

What Kerio Workspace is most similar to is Microsoft Sharepoint. That bit of knowledge doesn't help you unless you are already familiar with Sharepoint, unfortunately.

Collaboration

Generically, Workspace is a browser based collaboration tool. It is a tool that helps groups of people work on projects. It is most useful when the project involves documents (spreadsheets, word processing files, images, whatever) that will be changed or added to, but it can be valuable even if the participants share nothing but text.

If you are composing an email where there is likely to be back and forth between the participants, you should be thinking about using a collaboration tool instead (see my Let's NOT have an email discussion about this!). If that email is inviting people to a meeting, a collaboration tool could augment and sometimes replace the meeting entirely.

This video shows how Kerio uses Workspace within their own organization; if you still don't see how this sort of tool is useful, watching this can help.

Pricing

Google Docs is free and you can, with some clumsiness, use it as a collaborative tool.

Box for personal use is also free, though for business use it runs $180 per year per user (up to 500 users, "call for pricing" above that). Box does offer a free trial period so that you can kick the tires.

Microsoft Sharepoint is "free" with Server 2008, but of course Server 2008 isn't free and you also need to buy CAL's (client access licenses). Sharepoint pricing is confusing enough that you can find on-line pricing calculators to help you (Google for "sharepoint pricing calculator" after reading Microsoft's Sharepoint Licensing Details page and their System requirements page). This Determining the True Cost of Microsoft SharePoint might help also, but if you can tell me what Sharepoint really costs. you are a person of remarkable insight and patience.

Hosted Sharepoint is easier (at least with regard to pricing). A quick Google for "Sharepoint hosting" will turn up plenty of choices, most of whom will offer free trials.

Kerio's pricing is simple: $30 per user first year (that's per year, not per month), $10.00 per user subsequently; licensed in 5 user bumps only. It runs on Windows (you don't need a server version), Mac or Linux or under VMware. It's really that easy (see Kerio's web page for details). Hosted Workspace is also available, running from $10-$15 per user/per month (contact me for more information). You can download a free, 30 day demo from Kerio and trial hosting is also available.

Features

Getting started with any of these tools is perhaps even harder than understanding why you would want to use them. Kerio Workspace is easy to use, but it is barely out of beta, so it lacks some features.

However, one of the really nice features of all Kerio products is customer feedback where you as a user can vote on desirable features.

If an idea is popular, it may get bumped up in priority by Kerio and will show as "Planned". This is a snapshot of those items in April of 2012 (some or all of these may already be implemented when you read this).

I wanted to mention that first so that you don't do too much "Fine, but what about.." as you read this overview.

Hierarchy

The top level of Kerio Workspace is a "Space". You create Spaces, assigning them a name and adding sharing rights for other users. A Space is a container for "Pages", so think of it as an organizational unit. Pages that you create inside a space are also containers. Pages inherit the sharing permissions of the Space that encloses them by default, but you can set individual rights also.

Sharing rights are either "Reader", "Contributor" or "Admin".

Readers can view pages, Contributors can edit (including deletion; more on that later) and Admin access allows setting additional access rights in addition to having editing ability.

Example: A store is planning a major Spring sales promotion. The Space might be "Spring 2012 Sales Promotion". Within that space we might have a Page for "Newspaper Ads" and another Page for "Staffing". The people responsible for creatives would have at least "Contributor" access to the "Newspaper Ads" page and store managers would have that access to the "Staffing" page. All employees mighty have read access to "Staffing", but might not need access to "Newspaper Ads".

Note that if you want to share only some pages of a Space with another user, that user has to have at least Read access to the Space and then you'll have to remove access to the pages you do NOT want them to see. That's a bit clumsy; perhaps they'll provide an easier way later.

You don't have to be overly concerned about deletion. Everything can be "undeleted" by anyone with at least Contributor rights.

Being able to completely delete unwanted items is something that has been requested frequently and will be in a future version.

Pages

When you first create a Space, you have the choice of one, two or three column layout. Actually, all Pages have a three column layout; it's just a matter of which columns you choose to show and that can be edited at any time.

You adjust the width of columns just by dragging them wider; the height is dependent upon content (though you can also drag to increase the size of embedded content).

Every column of a page contains one or more components. A component can be simple text, an image, an embedded web page or video, a list of external links or a list of documents (File Library).

Sharing permissions cannot be assigned to individual components. I think it would be convenient if they could be, but you can accomplish this by breaking out separate pages with individual permissions.

File Library

Kerio Workspace can offer quick previews of some document types. At the present time, those include:

  • TXT and HTML files
  • MS Office document types: DOC, XLS, PPT, DOCX, XLSX and PPTX
  • OpenOffice documents
  • Images in JPG, PNG, GIF and TIFF formats
  • PDF documents

However, that doesn't mean that you are limited to those file types. For example, here I have added my 2011 Turbo Tax tax return to a File Library.

Kerio's free Desktop Client provides the integration to let you (or anyone with permissions) to launch a local computer application to edit the file. If I choose "Edit on Desktop", the Desktop Client will launch Turbo Tax and when I save and quit, will offer to upload the modified file to Workspace.

At the present time, the Desktop Client is available for Windows, Mac OS X and as a Firefox plug-in. I recommend installing the Desktop Client BEFORE trying to edit a file. Workspace will attempt to install this on the fly when first needed, but that can be very confusing.

This client is only a file helper. Your access to Workspace is through your browser, not a proprietary client.

Comments

Users can comment on individual components and can leave specific comments about any edits they are allowed to make. These comments appear in other users News Feed if they are subscribed to the Space.

By the way, when you add at least Read permissions, the Space shows up in the users "All Spaces" list automatically. They can drag it to Favorites if they wish.

Missing features

One obvious feature available in competing products is anonymous guest access for at least viewing. That has been suggested, and has attracted a few votes, but hasn't reached "Planned" status as of this writing.

Of course there are other things, but there's no point in mentioning them as the next release may already incorporate them. As it stands now, Kerio Workspace is a useful collaboration tool at a quite reasonable price. You can download a free demo and I can also arrange for a free trial of hosted Workspace.



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Sat Oct 9 22:15:37 2010: 9038   BruceGarlock

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So, this looks like it could be an enterprise wiki of sorts? I'm getting ready to deploy 'confluence' which is a nice enterprise wiki, but Kerio Workspace looks like it could be a wiki and much more. I'll be looking forward to giving this a good look..





Thu Dec 2 12:00:53 2010: 9143   MadaboutDana

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Yup, it's definitely a very promising Wiki alternative. We've been testing it for a couple of months now, and while the beta (currently 7) doesn't yet have all the bells and whistles promised, it's one of the fastest and most fluid wiki alternatives we've discovered (and we've tested/used a lot of them, including e.g. Plone, MindTouch, Confluence, MetaDot and others). It's (very) easy to use - always a plus! - and, I stress once again, unbelievably fast: our main test server is sitting on an old, cheap laptop running Ubuntu 10.04, and to be honest, the response time isn't much different from our intranet server on the rack! It also has a great file preview utility which blows e.g. Alfresco's equivalent away, again for speed. The main Search function is also very, very quick and uses Boolean logic, so you can put together complex Google-like queries quickly and easily. It searches through text on pages and through attached files, too. Definitely one to keep an eye on!



Tue Apr 3 07:45:13 2012: 10816   TonyLawrence

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It's now at version 1.1.0 Patch 1

It's getting more slick. One thing that surprised me was the inability to actually delete anything from the database. That's coming, see (link)

I installed it on Ubuntu 10.04.4 LTS and had some issues with crashing - but it restarts gracefully and never actually lost anything. I also have odd Chrome issues with the self signed certificate.. but generally speaking, I'd call this useful now.







Tue Apr 10 00:19:37 2012: 10836   sk43999

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Oh joy, yet another "collaboration solution". This time with a proprietary client.

What if multiple people are editing the same page at the same time? Will their edits be merged seamlessly? The video is silent on that point. The most complex document I ever worked on must have been about 200 pages in manuscript form and had 190 coauthors from 56 organizations across 3 continents. Realistically, there were perhaps 20 people who did the actual writing, all editing the same document in parallel. We used Latex and CVS. Collating and editing was surprisingly easy. No other collaboration-type infrastructure that I've ever used (at least seven by now) has ever come close to matching this capability.

The real test of a collaborative tool is this - would you use it if you were doing something just for yourself?

P.S. Finally, the video starts up in "HD" mode - a disaster if you don't have a gigabit connection to the internet. Can that be squelched?



Tue Apr 10 00:53:21 2012: 10837   TonyLawrence

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There is no proprietary client. This is through your browser. The client is simply a helper to bring stuff down and put it back - if you want to do that manually, you can.

Like all Kerio products, this is designed for small business, not for the Enterprise scenario you mentioned.
And yes, I have used it for non-collaborative projects.



Tue Apr 10 00:59:10 2012: 10838   TonyLawrence

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As to "disaster", I don't have a gigabit connection and have no problems with that video. If your connection is that poor, don't play videos.



Tue Jun 18 20:40:23 2013: 12138   TonyLawrence

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People who bought Workspace may want to know this about switching to Samepage:

( see (link) )

Workspace Commercial Edition customers
75% discount off current (or future) paid yearly rate plans
$25/user/year
(based on current Premium yearly plan)
yearly rate plans only
lifetime discount

Registered Workspace Starter Edition customers
50% discount off current (or future) paid yearly rate plans
$50/user/year
(based on current Premium yearly plan)
yearly rate plans only
lifetime discount
offer valid through December 31, 2013

Additional notes...
Workspace Commercial Edition customers will be given a free Samepage Premium Plan subscription until expiration date of their paid Workspace SWM period (valid for number of users on existing Workspace Commercial Edition)
75% discount applies after free subscription period ends
discount applies to initial and future purchases (new users, renewals, etc.)

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