Ximian and SuSE Linux have partnered to link SuSE's e-mail and groupware server with a desktop front-end from Ximian, which will give users of the SuSE product another choice for client software, the Linux vendors announced Monday.The companies also plan to link SuSE's Linux enterprise operating systems with a Ximian Linux software management tool, a move expected to make it easier for administrators of SuSE-based systems to distribute, deploy and control software, according to the companies.The companies have created a connection between SuSE's e-mail and groupware Openexchange server and Ximian's e-mail and groupware Evolution desktop client software. Currently, users of SuSE's Openexchange server can use either a browser or Microsoft's Outlook software as client front-ends, said Rafael Laguna, SuSE's marketing vice president.With the new Ximian Connector for Openexchange they will have the option of using Ximian's Evolution as a client front-end. Evolution will give Openexchange users the same functionality as Outlook, Laguna said. Users who opt for a browser front-end get less functionality than with Evolution or Outlook, he added.The user interface of Ximian's Evolution is very similar in look and feel to Outlook, so a company that decides to roll out Evolution seats will not have to retrain extensively those users who are already familiar with Outlook, said IDC analyst Al Gillen said.Evolution and Openexchange provide e-mail, calendar, scheduling, address book, to-do list and other collaboration functions typical of groupware and e-mail products.Meanwhile, the integration of the SuSE Linux desktop and SuSE Linux Enterprise Server operating systems with Ximian's software management tool Red Carpet Enterprise will simplify and improve the software management process for SuSE system administrators, Laguna said. "A lot of integration was done by the two engineering teams," he said.This integration will give SuSE administrators a centralized console from which to manage, control and deploy new and updated software on systems running the SuSE operating systems, said Jon Perr, Ximian's marketing vice president.IDC's Gillen said this gives SuSE users a tool that competitor Red Hat, another maker of Linux operating systems, already has."This brings SuSE in line with a similar level of systems-management capabilities to what Red Hat offers with its Red Hat Network tool. This is something for which SuSE didn't have an equivalent to Red Hat, so it gives SuSE a boost in this area of systems management," Gillen said.The collaboration also benefits Ximian by broadening the market for its Red Carpet Enterprise product, Gillen added.The companies also pledged their intention to further collaborate on integrating desktop technologies, although they didn't provide any more details over what form that collaboration may take.In general, this broad partnership "ultimately brings together the Ximian technology with SuSE's, so that it broadens the market opportunity for both companies," Gillen said.Regarding availability of the products, SuSE plans to start reselling Ximian's Red Carpet Enterprise during the second quarter as part of its "deployment and administration" option pack to SuSE Linux Enterprise. Meanwhile, the Ximian Connector for Openexchange and Ximian Evolution will be shipped by SuSE starting in the third quarter.