ClarkConnect 5.0 Features Announced

Im really excited about this. ClarkConnect has announced their target new features to be included with Clark Connect 5.0.

Some of the new features are things we badly need to improve our office network infrastructure.

ClarkConnect – Feature Overview for ClarkConnect 5.0

ClarkConnect 5.0 Feature Overview

ClarkConnect 5.0 is coming in early 2009 (schedule). Along with the upgrade to CentOS 5.x, here are some of the highlights…

Complete LDAP Integration

To an end user, having user information stored in LDAP instead of the usual Unix locations is not very exciting. In fact, you won’t see much difference in the web-based interface. Under the hood, we have put together a tightly integrated LDAP system.

One of the nice side effects of this change will be the ability to have a master server with username/password information along with multiple client servers using the same LDAP information. For example, you can have three different ClarkConnect systems on your network with different roles:

* A firewall/gateway with VPN capabilities
* A dedicated mail server
* A dedicated file server

Windows File Sharing / Samba

Thanks to some outside help from a Samba expert, the Windows Networking features in ClarkConnect 5.0 will really shine:

* Roaming profiles
* Recycle bin support
* File auditing
* Improved performance

Network Management / Peer-to-Peer

We will be introducing the protocol filtering in version 5.0. This new tool will help you manage what can and cannot be used on your network. Whether it is instant messaging, peer-to-peer, or other unwanted protocols, this new feature will help with network administration.
Mail Quarantine

The mail quarantine is back! A variation of the MailZu software has been integrated into ClarkConnect.

I wonder why their previously announced Online Backup Service was not highlighted?

ClarkConnect registration page

We use ClarkConnect extensively as a key component of our office infrastructure (we are also a partner). We chose it over other Linux-based solutions as it integrates many of the best community-supported applications out there for Linux network services such as Squid, Dan’s Guardian, Samba, OpenVPN, ClamAV, SpamAssasin, and many others and provides a nice, easy to understand administration frontend plus a support/update service delivered over the Internet.

Their support/update service which they call SDN is a bit like Red Hat’s RHN but it adds some really useful network gateway services such as hosted antispam, antivirus, DNS, Dynamic DNS, bandwidth monitoring, intrusion detection and prevention, content filtering updates, and many others.

ClarkConnect is also not a black box solution, unlike other all-in-one Linux-based small business server solutions like Collax or Nitix (now Lotus Foundation Server). The source code is still open, the platform is still extensible (you can apt-get from third party repositories, and is based on CentOS so you can use the same packages available for Red Hat or CentOS).

It compares favorably to Microsoft Small Busines Server, in that you get a file (supports major protocols such as CIFS/WebDAV/NFS, FTP) server, database (MySQL) server, web (Apache) server, FTP server, e-mail, collaboration, centralized identity management, DNS, VPN, router, firewall, content filtering, intrusion detection/prevention, backup, antispam, antivirus solution–basically everything a small office would need for basic network services (for more elaborate or advanced network services such as unified threat management, network perimeter security and others, perhaps pfSense, IPCop, Smoothwall or Untangle would be a better choice).

They have been doing hybrid-hosted services or software+services before some marketing-savvy CEO coined the term. Too bad they are not as good with marketing–it seems another company is doing it for them (I wonder if its an OEM deal? Its clear they use the same platform, but with addons to connect to SaaS providers such as Google and Salesforce.com).

Anyway Im excited about the future of ClarkConnect. Three chears to Pointclark for their continued development of ClarkConnect!