Unified Comms

Review: Banckle collaboration suite

Banckle combines a wide range of common communication business needs into one centralized package with minimal configuration.

Banckle is an end-to-end collaboration suite featuring a one-year free period.

Note: This review was performed with the standard Bankle offering of one free year.

Specifications

  • Requirements (Windows): Windows XP or higher, IE 7, Firefox 2, Safari 3, or Chrome, Adobe Reader 8, Flash 9, 1.25GHz CPU, 256MB RAM, 1024 x 768 resolution
  • Requirements (Mac): OS X 10.1, Safari 3 or Firefox 2, Adobe Reader 8, Flash 9, 1.25GHz CPU, 256MB RAM, 1024 x 768 resolution
  • Price: $5/user/month (VM) or $8/user/month (hosted), first year free
  • Additional Information: Product Web site

Who's it for?

Businesses looking for a complete solution for their communications needs may very well want to take a look at Banckle. It combines a wide range of common business needs into one centralized package with minimal required configuration.

What problems does it solve?

Collaboration tools are becoming commodity items for businesses now. It is possible to do a "best of breed" setup, but the typical business really does not need to do that. Banckle combines the following services into one very well priced package and simplifies management because there is a single vendor to deal with:

  • Email
  • Chat (group)
  • Chat (one-on-one with customers)
  • Web Conferencing
  • Site Search
  • File Sharing
  • Instant Messaging
  • Remote Access

Standout features

  • Price: Not only does Banckle offer the first year for free, but their per-month pricing is very reasonable.
  • Self-Hosting Option: I've always liked it when vendors of online apps provide a self-hosting option, and with Banckle it is definitely appreciated.
  • Surprisingly customizable: The Banckle services are much more configurable than you might expect, especially with products at this price point.

What's wrong?

  • Lack of Integrations: Like many of the inexpensive and free options for a variety of services, Banckle lacks the integration hooks (particularly with Microsoft Office) that customers find very useful.
  • Limited Offerings: As you might expect at this price point, the Banckle services are never a match for the more expensive, "best of breed" options on the feature list. For example, the file sharing is limited to 1GB, and the email server does not have the full Exchange capabilities.

Competitive products

Bottom line for business

There are a lot of vendors out there offering the same services Banckle does, but few (Microsoft and Google come to mind) vendors offer the same spectrum of services all under the same roof. For those that do, Microsoft is the only one that can provide you with the combination of services either as a hosted package or on-premise. You could cobble together your own best-of-breed package yourself, if that's a strategy that makes sense to you, but we are all aware of the risks that it can entail.

The Banckle services, while showing a variety of limitations, also have some surprising features included. For example, the Web conferencing system is capable of handling audio and video through the PC's devices, which not all free or inexpensive Web conferencing systems can handle; it can also record meetings. At the same time, you may find its limitations to be a little too limiting. For heavy users, things like Outlook integration often justifies spending more money. But overall, it is hard to argue with Banckle's value proposition. Not only is the per-user price extraordinarily competitive to begin with, but the free year is just unbeatable.

User Rating

Have you encountered or used Banckle collaboration suite services? If so, what do you think? Rate your experience and compare the results to what other TechRepublic members think. Give your own personal review in the TechRepublic Community Forums or let us know if you think we left anything out in our review.

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About

Justin James is the Lead Architect for Conigent.

1 comments
Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

What suite of applications does your organization use for collaboration? Are you satisfied with the suite you have?