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The new beta version of HyperOffice (news, site) is targeting the SMB market with a whole new bunch of tools that the company says will provide a real and viable alternative to other collaboration suites from the likes of Google Apps to Zoho.

The private beta release, which can be up and running in less than an hour, will give users a range of any kind of SaaS business application they can think of including forums, wikis, intranets, extranets, email, project portals and web conferencing.

For US $7 per month per user (as opposed to Google Apps’ US $50 per user per year), companies with between three and 250 users will be able to access all these tools, including document management and project management, without having to use-up their IT resources to do so.

In fact, HyperOffice is so adamant that companies will be able to dispense with IT departments in respect of these applications that they are promoting it as the “no geeks required” collaboration suite.

HyperOffice’s words, not ours. "We can get you up and running in as little as an hour," said Farzin Arsanjani, President, HyperOffice. "There's no hardware to buy, no software to install. No geeks required."

Targeting Google Apps?

Behind all the bluster, though, is a determined move into the collaboration space currently occupied by Google Apps and Zoho.

In fact, they appear to be specifically targeting the Google Apps space with the new platform which has been built from the ground up with Ajax, Java and an array of other Web 2.0 technologies to improve performance, scalability and security.

"Google Apps has reached more than two million businesses that recognize the value of messaging and collaboration capabilities delivered online," Arsanjani said "HyperOffice is distinctively positioned as SMBs discover hosted business collaboration services and realize they require a more comprehensive suite of tools . . .”

All-In-One Suite

The advantage of HyperOffice’s product, the company says, is that all the tools needed for collaboration between distributed teams are available on the same suite dispensing with the need to mix-and-match, which many companies are currently doing.

However, this is based on the assumption that all applications in the suite work as best-in-class and that there would be no advantage in picking and choosing applications from different companies.

That said, there is an impressive list of applications in the new suite including:

  • Online database enabling users import data or collect data using easy-to-create web forms. It is a hosted database solution -- no database administrators required.
  • Centralized online project management console. Enables users manage and collaborate on projects enabling them to create tasks, set deadlines and dates, delegate responsibilities, get notifications and track progress.
  • Secure online document management with file storage capabilities that lets users store and organize documents online and access them where ever they are.
  • Outlook Synchronization that enables access to an Outlook account on any PC, Mac or mobile device with all changes automatically synched, updated & mirrored.
  • Secure Email Hosting that provides a stand-alone web-based email client to access all email anywhere.
  • Mobile suite that provides HyperOffice up-to-the-minute data whenever users access the portal through a phone’s web browser. Users can share documents, tasks and calendars with team members and business associates.

There are many other applications too numerous to mention, but one other worth a mention has to be the Ajax-enabled ability to allow users to drag-and-drop to easily build customer and project portals.

While this private beta release is for qualified users only -- although it is not clear what qualified users are -- the beta run is due to finish in early February next after which it will presumably go on general release.