Open-Xchange Gets New Boss, Geck As CTO

Geck had been a high roller with SUSE and became a Novell vice president and SUSE CTO when Novell acquired the German Linux player two years ago.

Geck was bullish on the opportunity before him. "One of the things I like doing is processes. I'm a mechanical engineer, specifically a production engieneer, and software in general lacks a lot in that process area," he said in an interview with CRN on Monday morning.

Whereas Open-Xchange in the past year has perhaps focused on hosting solutions, it now needs to focus again on end-user and VAR deployments, he said.

"What it all comes back to is the sound technology base that can be reused in hosting, in end-user deployments and in the VAR channel," Geck noted.

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Labie, who was most recently CEO of CXO Systems, steps in for Frank Hoberg, who was CEO and a co-founder of Open-Exchange. Hoberg will remain with the company as general manager for EMEA.

Geck surfacing at Open-Exchange will mean good things for that company, said a former SUSE employee.

He has "an amazing strategic mind, he turned SUSE from desktop to servers and was the thinking behind SUSE's 'Yet another Setup Tool',' this source said

YaST has been praised by some of the Linux faithful as a very useful all-in-one configuration tool.

Frank Basanta, director of technology for Systems Solutions, a New York solution provider, concurred.

"Geck going there is an absolute win, win," he said. "He's considered the visionary for SUSE Linux. He really tried to tie more solutions into the Linux open source movement."

OpenExhange has U.S. headquarters in Tarrytown, N.Y. and roots in Olpe and Nuremberg, Germany.

Gregg Rosenberg, CEO of Ricis, a Tinley Park, Ill.-based solution provider was glad to hear the news. Ricis specializes in email systems and works with Open-Xchange, Scalix and other systems.

"Geck struck me as a pretty sharp player" who might be able to help Open-Xchange work smarter, he said.

"Open-Xchange sometimes takes months or years to get fixes for show-stopper issues. We have several customers, including Caterpillar, who are moving away from Open-Xchange for this reason," he noted. "The issue is the people running Open-Xchange didn't understand prioritizing things outside the context of Germany. We've been after them for years to do things in English first, then German." Rosenberg said.

Earlier this year Open-Xchange made some waves when 11 Internet, a huge hosted e-mail provider, signed on. 11 will offer Open-Xchange-based mail as a less costly alternative to its hosted version of Microsoft Exchange Server.

This report was updated Monday afternoon with comments from Geck and solution providers.