What would you exchange Exchange for?

It's long been clear to me that the biggest lock-in Microsoft has, at the enterprise level, is not with Windows or personal apps, but with Exchange Server. And the biggest problem there is this: it's good. Enterprises like it. And, since Exchange works only or best with Windows machines, the lock-in extends to much else. Linux and Mac boxes get purged and replaced by Windows ones.

Or so goes the story I hear from folks at big enterprises.

So I'm wondering about alternatives. Not just about applications, but about who's doing what. Is Google using Exchange? Are Sun, IBM or other open-friendly companies? If not, what ways have they found around it? What do they give up and what do they gain?

Feel free to comment below or contact me directly if you're not comfortable posting here.

FWIW, I'm most interested in hearing what big enterprises -- in business, medicine, education, government -- are doing. Because that's where the lock-in is biggest and there are the fewest alternatives.


Doc Searls is the Editor in Chief of Linux Journal


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Web Based Solution

Andy Moles's picture

Has Anyone tried web based solution Taroby to solve this problem?

Zimbra vs Exchange

Tom Wolfe's picture

My employer recently went from Exchange 2003 to Zimbra and many of us wish every day that we could go back. The calendering for Zimbra is not as good as Exchange which has been a vital problem we have experienced since the switchover since the powers that be never considered the non-email functions, especially for those in my organizations large satellite office. Admittedly a main part of the problem was the implementation was botched from the get go and the organizational knowledge needed to fix even the small little issues was not there. As an IT person who used to be involved in the email business for another employer and my conversation with the guy primarily handling the Zimbra server now, Zimbra seems to be a bit behind the curve as far as providing the support needed for a mid to large organization that is email dependant. Handling most of the problems via email or webpage may work for bug fixes of minor issues, but we had several major issues affecting 150+ employees dangle, and continue to dangle, out there because the vendor doesn't have a large enough support staff to handle one big issue at a time. Say what you want to say about Microsoft, but my experience with them on Exchange issues that I could not get resolved myself was that I could call them up and they would have someone on the phone with me until it was fixed. And that is a major plus for a organization like mine, which is big enough to have a dedicated IT department but not big enough to have someone who is an "expert" in specific items.

Atmail as a lightweight Exchange alternative

Ben Duncan's picture


We develop a lightweight Exchange alternative called Atmail - http://atmail.com/

Our product ethos is Exchange, without the bloat, and providing a feature-rich Webmail client so people can do without Outlook.

I think the approach Gmail are using as the 'browser is the email-client' is the way to go, and what our company focus will be into the future.

Did you researched Oracle?

Luis neves's picture

Oracle has Oracle Collaboration Suite and I dont know why its is not mentioned anywhere when talking about enterprise grade messaging. My company has almost 10000 acounts on it. Its based on the Oracle 10g database, very robust and scalable. Iam the single admin (well almost, we are two, and we have time for more admin work than messaging stuff all day) of it. It has an outlook connector that we have intalled on 3000+ clients, webmail, messaging, wireless access, content services, etc.

Oracle is now with a new version of it, BEEHIVE. We dont know yet if how its going to be our upgrade path, so often I try to see if theres new products on the market who can really match it. (specs, scalability, support, etc)

Its not a free product, but its has all the support that a big enterprise needs. Is more or less on pair with exchange costs and has almost all the features of it.

We would be a bit worried if we changed it for something without good and big support.
Outlook support, (via connectors) is a MUST have for us due to our type of users. I only see 3 players for us if the tme arrives for any change: IBM, NOVELL and M$... and ORACLE (with his Beeehive)

What about KyaPanel?

Jansen Sena's picture

Hi friends,

did anybody here have hear something about KyaPanel (http://www.kyapanel.com)? It is a kind of free software front end to make Linux server administration tasks easy. It does a kind of free software tools integration. KyaPanel has two main modules and one of them is to manage emails servers. It uses Postfix supporting multi-domain configurations and it can be integrated with OpenLDAP or databases like MySQL and Postgres, for example. KyaPanel has a plugin to integrate the users from an Active Directory server. Through a web interface, the sysadmin can configure everything including accounts, user quotas and even new domains.

Other good thing about KyaPanel is that the core of its source code is developed using shell script. Because of that you can improve it fast and easy, according your needs.

Best regards,

Jansen Sena

We use Axigen

T-One's picture

We use Axigen

eGroupware cum Google Docs

Daeng Bo's picture

A couple of years ago, I would have said to use eGroupware for a business under 200 users, having set it up and having it work really well a couple of times. It handles Exchange's role plus wikis, document systems, forums, knowledge bases, and more. Almost every service is exposed in a standards-compliant way (IMAP, ICAL, etc.)

These days, I'd just tell that business to use Google Docs at $50 per user per year, to pay for a real Internet connection, and to forget about having to deal with headaches.

At both my university and

Anonymous's picture

At both my university and the public library I worked we used Novell Groupwise as our mail server and client(s)

For what would I exchange Exchange?

Ken Sarkies's picture

When I told management how much it would cost, they didn't like it! (this is a non-profit organization for which money means something).

I set up Courier-MTA on Fedora Linux for email and Apache with Webdav shared calendering. They use Outlook or Sunbird for viewing and updating the calendars and any email client will work with Courier. Once they got used to it, they are happy. There are a few Exchange replacement packages in the opensource and proprietary world. The opensource one's didn't hack it from my point of view but there may have been some good progress in the three years since I looked.

Did you look to techsoup for

Anonymous's picture

Did you look to techsoup for the software since you are not-for-profit?

Scalix is... meh.

lefty.crupps's picture

We moved from IMAP-based email for our small-but-growing company to "something that supports 'calendaring'". Tech management decided to go with Scalix, since "its supposed to suck as much as the rest of them." Scalix works well most of the time, but we do have to reset all email connections a few times every week. It does IMAP as well as its own thing, which is likely a result of Xandros' covenant with Macroshaft.

Basics like 'whitelisting' are missing from Scalix however, as is username+specialcode@domain.com for filtering incoming mail on these codes, etc.

I would agree, though, that it's Outlook and its integrated 'calendaring' (I hate that 'word') that our less-techy employees seem to want. They'd rather risk the single corrupt PST file and lose months or years worth of data, than to learn something new (KMail on Windows, anyone?). I refer mostly the older people and the management, less the young crowd (who use Thunderbird, KMail, iApple iMail, some others, and Outlook also). The calendar stuff seems important (I say, use paper) but we're able to get it to work. At least with Scalix, us KMail users can run the scalixwizard and get integrated Kontact access (LDAP, Calendar access, email, address book, etc). I am not sure the integration with Thunderbird and Scalix.

For Scalix to work properly with Outlook you have to install a Scalix Connector app, but it does work, usually, mostly. Updates to the server and the connector over the last year have brought a lot of improvements. A few employees are pushing for Exchange tho, since like one thing in Outlook doesn't work for Outlook 2007 or something. They obviously don't have my job.

I would like to investigate more Kolab. As a whole, we've been looking to possibly replace Scalix with another mail/calendar server, and thankfully the Tech management doesn't want Exchange either.

Clark's Connect

Anonymous's picture

if u relay consider kolab try:


MS Exchange Server....Scalix....

John Briggs's picture

One product I would investigate as an alternative to MS Exchange Server is IBM's Lotus Notes/Domino. I don't have any experience with this type of software but IBM has migrated Lotus to Linux and if their past work is any example it works well.

Exchange Good

Anonymous's picture

Management likes exchange, that's pretty much the sum total of its goodness.

DJB's Qmail

Anonymous's picture

Last time I implemented a Qmail+All+The+Patches with Uebimiau as the webmail, management was happy with it. They use OE and calendaring was not in their agenda. Now I believe they are switching to Zimbra as I heard from my ex-colleagues.

What do you want to do with it?

N600LW's picture

Personally, I would be willing to exchange Exchange for pencil and paper.

In the article, you state, "...the problem [with Exchange] is, it's good." My experience suggests otherwise. The company I work for used Postfix and Cyrus until we were bought by a bigger company that uses, you guessed it, Exchange. After the purchase, the new parent company had us migrate to their mail platform. The mail server admin bragged to us about reliability and uptime in response to our concerns about security and stability, claiming that his three hundred servers had a 98% uptime. I replied that our single Postfix/Cyrus server had 100% uptime since I started working for the company some 2 1/2 years earlier. Since the migration, we have fielded many, many calls from our users who can't get some function of Outlook/Exchange to work correctly. I personally have been unable to reply to local e-mail recipients because of the translations Exchange does to map our old e-mail addresses (POSIX username @ domain.com) to the format Exchange uses (firstname.lastname @ domain.com). IMHO, our original Postfix/Cyrus/Thunderbird setup was vastly superior to Exchange for e-mail. The only thing we couldn't provide that Exchange could was on-line calendaring...not something that was mission critical for us (but something the parent company insists is necessary).

Also, in the article, you state, "And, since Exchange works only or best with Windows machines, the lock-in extends to much else. Linux and Mac boxes get purged and replaced by Windows ones." Again, I would disagree. Since the migration, I still use Thunderbird with the Lightning extension, and don't find that I am missing much.

Try Kerio

Anonymous's picture

We use kerio, pretty stable and it works with outlook pretty well, It has active directory extensions and can be integrated into AD, though, I haven't tried it. It also supports Active Sync over the Air, so your iphone or windows mobile device will think its an exchange server. Kerios supports mac clients very well for people with macintosh deployments. Administration clients can run on windows or macs.

But I think when you are considering an alternative email/groupware server, you need to answer the anti-spam and anti-virus question. If you change platforms then you may have to change your anti-spam/anti-virus solution, and that will add to the cost of deployment.

Exchange Lock in?

Shane Kerns's picture

Exchange may be the lock in at the corporate level (even that is debatable) but at the personal desktop level it is MS Office.
The firm for which I work couldn't care less for MS Exchange (with the amount of problems we face). In fact I could migrate to another open source exchange like app or a combo of open source apps to mimic Exchange within a months time.
What my firm is worried about is the various employees who use MS Office 2003 (especially Excel that is used to create tables from a Db source MSSQL).
I have tried to convince them that OpenOffice is just as good and in terms of stability even better but they just won't budge.
How do you think that firms that are 100% open source users manage without exchange? There are a multitude of open source alternatives out there, some free some not and a lot of these can even sync with the Blackberry, Palm etc.
Its going to take a lot longer to overthrow MS Office but as far as I can see MS Exchange is already history, insecure and unstable.

Office is the lock-in? If

MikeN's picture

Office is the lock-in? If that's true, have them distribute Office with Crossover to the users who can't do without it. That seems like a simple solution.

It's very difficult, in my experience, to convince people that there are better alternatives to exchange. So I agree with the original article, despite its shortcomings, exchange is one of the main reasons some companies even have a Windows server environment.

what do other big companies/organisations use (if not Exchange)?

Arthur Marsh's picture

This article obviously generated some interest.

Did the author try to contact other large companies (e.g. HP, Oracle) about what email/calendaring software they use in-house?

I can't believe how many companies and organisations fall for using Microsoft Exchange.

communigate is awesome to

jh's picture

communigate is awesome to administer, somewhat lacking for users, and inexpensive-ish.

OX / scalix / zimbra are bloated and pretend to be open source

there are some others i didnt see here that are worth investigating :

bynari ( not sure if its still around )

there was one i thought based out of south africa that seemed promising, but i dont recall the name

be sure to crawl the message boards of people who have purchased the product. the home pages always tout drop in replacement, but that is just wishful thinking


We're a small to medium

Alex (UK)'s picture

We're a small to medium software house and decided to migrate off Exchange Server in 2005 for the reasons of TCO, stability and lack of decent WebMail facilities. After evaluating a number of products CommuniGate stood out by a mile, and has worked extremely well for us ever since. To minimise disruption for users, the desktop mail client remained as Outlook, and while there have been a few fairly minor annoyances, the 2 things actually work very well together. Recently, we decided to re-assess this decision given that Exchange/Outlook have moved on some - however Communigate still wins hands down according to our criteria as above. (BTW another nail in Exchange's coffin this time round is that it is not currently MS supported on virtualised environments a must for us as *all* our servers now run under VMWare) So, the outcome is we'll remain with CommuniGate, and upgrade to Outlook 2007 for the desktop mail clients - which has been tested and works very smoothly.

Broader scope

Jason's picture

I'm curious if anyone just uses/has used a broader scope enterprise content management tool for groupware instead (i.e alfresco and the like)?


Anonymous's picture

I have experience of 350+ users across multiple sites, countries and languages using Dovecot IMAP and eGroupware for calendaring, with Thunderbird as the client. We started using Lightning for teh calendar (works well) but most users used the web interface to eGroupware. eGroupware supports syncml so integration over-the-air with mobile phones and (in our case) Palm Treos with the Synthesis syncml client worked extremely well. We even had newcomers comment about the fact that the routine failure of the messaging and calendaring systems they were used to didn't seem to happen to us!

Citadel is a great alternative

Art Cancro's picture

The general problem is that everyone has a different idea of what qualifies as an Exchange replacement. If you want the exact feature set of Exchange then you probably ought to be running Exchange. Those who try to clone it (Zimbra and Scalix -- neither of which are truly open source btw, you have to pay for the full versions) are generally perceived as cheap knockoffs.

For an alternative approach you really want to take a look at Citadel. Although it looks nothing like Exchange, it solves many of the same problems (email, calendars, address books) and some new ones (instant messenger, chat, forums, and more) and does so in a way that is more intuitive. Many who try it soon find that they can't live without it. :)

That's not true

guyvansanden's picture

Scalix is not Open Source and the Community version is seriously broken (No CalDAV etc). But Zimbra is Open Source (though not Free Software) and has a featureset that is on par with and sometimes even exceeds Exchange. If you are not running a MS only shop then Zimbra is the best alternative out of the Zimbra/Scalix/PostPath/Zarafa offering. The Community verion does not lack much of the network edition except backup/restore fucntionality.

I have used Citadel for a while and it has a nice feature set. But one of the biggest drawbacks for Enterprise deployments is the lack of support for Directory services like LDAP and AD. Also the Web interface is lacking some functionality like free/busy views on invites, rendering of recurring events, save-to-draft and many other smaller items.

It does suit the need of many SOHO users though.


Paul Orama's picture

I have used Scalix (http://www.scalix.com) at the last company I worked for and liked it a lot. Had an interface similar to Outlook and the webmail component was quite capable and usable. The group calendaring worked fine, and I really did not have any issues with Scalix. It's worth the download to at least try it out.

What you may not know about Domino/Notes

Anonymous's picture

We've installed IBM Lotus Domino/Notes at a dozen small (10 to 100 users) businesses. It's versatility is awesome. It's sooo much more than email. It's rock solid. We run servers on SUSE, Redhat and Windows. We run clients on Windows, Mac and yes, Linux!

AND the pricing is so very affordable. The Domino Express Starter package allows companies of less than 1000 users use the server software at no additional charge when you purchase client licenses. For mail only, the price is $102/user. For full collaboration it's $170/user. It's an unbelievable value.

Ummm unbelievable value?

Anonymous's picture

Ummm unbelievable value? $4000 + ($67*400) for Exchange 2007 Ent. is still $10,000 less than what you just quoted for Domino express starter for the same 400 users.

Don't forget the Windows server licensing & Outlook costs

Anonymous's picture

Remember, if you are connecting to Exchange from a Windows computer (presumably to use Outlook) you need the Windows Server CALs. So add $30 for more for each user.Times 400 user adds an additional $12000 to your price. Also, add the software cost of Outlook. Add to that the maintenance time of all that complicated licensing. If you run Domino on Linux you don't need to bother with Windows server CAL's.

Not true if you use

Anonymous's picture

Not true if you use Evolution to connect to the Exchange server.

Evolution only works partly

Del's picture

Evolution only works partly through owa, most notably does not support scheduling or address book. Hence it is not an alternative.

Add cost of Sharepoint, Vista and MS Office in addition and you should get to grips with the picture. Exchange is actually a quite expensive alternative.

Evo works more than that

Paul Smith's picture

Not so, actually.

Evolution supports almost everything for Exchange 2003. It supports mail including folders, etc.; contacts including local, personal address books stored on the Exchange server, and also Exchange's GAL; calendaring including creating meetings, accepting meetings, free/busy determination, etc. It also supports tasks/todo lists and memos.

And with the last couple of releases it's actually pretty stable and usable.

The big problem with using Evo as an Exchange client is exactly what you said: it achieves its integration with Exchange by pretending to be a web browser using OWA. This leaves it at the complete mercy of whatever changes Microsoft makes to the OWA interface. In Exchange 2007 they completely rewrote the web interface (it's a lot nicer now... IFF you have IE7 :-/), which completely broke Evolution and so if you have Exchange 2007 you can't use Evo (except as an IMAP client). Obviously this is not a strategy for success and the Evo folks are smart enough to realize that. Luckily, at the same time Tridge et.al. were beating MS like a drum in the EU courts, and forced them to release a bunch of info on their proprietary protocols including MAPI (Exchange's "native" protocol). There is now a project well underway to create a MAPI library for Linux, and there's an Evo backend planned to be released with the next Gnome which will use it to talk to Exchange natively. I expect there to be some bumpy times (people using the alpha code report lots of problems still), but ultimately this should be a good solution for folks whose IT departments simply can't be turned from the Dark Side.

Because my company switched from Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2007 last month I've been running Outlook 2003 in Crossover since then. I have to say, Outlook sucks. I mean, it really sucks. I'm not saying Evo is perfect (I used to use VM in Emacs, plus procmail, and that had a lot of parts that were perfect, to me), but can't wait to get back to using it, even if there are problems.


guyvansanden's picture

Zimbra is extremely good, though not light on your resources and requires a dedicated server to run. It does work flawlessly with Free clients like Thunderbird and Evolution while having good support for outlook.
Downside is that it is not completely free (the YPL is open source, but entirely free).

Zarafa is now completely Free license-wise (AGPLv3). It's nice and has 100% outlook compatibility by implementing MAPI on Linux. Unfortunately, support for open protocols is not really great (IMAP is supported, but through a gateway that translates to MAPI, which lacks some IMAP features).
It has a nice webinterface, a bit cleaner than that of Zimbra but that might be a personal preference.

For really small setups, there's also Citadel (http://www.citadel.org). I have mixed feelings about this one. On the one hand it's completely Free (GPLv3) and open (IMAP, ICAL, ...). But it lacks certain basic features and I had too many bugs in de web interface when I ran it at home.

Active Directory

Anonymous's picture

I have 160 users and I would like to run a domain enviroment, please advice of any kind of software thats open source, many features and very stable other than windows.

View from both sides

Anonymous's picture

I used to work for a multi-national (100,000+ employees) Consumer Goods Company who used Notes/Domino, then was moved to Big Blue who also used Notes/Domino. I now work for a much smaller Bank (6000 employees) who uses Outlook/Exchange.

Experience has shown that larger Companies with massive user bases tend to use Domino as it just scales better than Exchange used to. Microsoft has put a lot of effort into making sure Exchange is more robust and that it scales better.

IMHO, if you plan either Exchange/Domino implementations correctly and with the future in mind, then both are relatively hassle free to administer. When that planning is done badly, then the on-going maintenance is much more.

Having used both, my preference is for the Notes/Domino combination as I miss having my workspace. We had custom-built collaboration applications which ran through the Notes interface and allowed you to do so much more than simple Mail/Calendaring with it and to my knowledge that flexibility isn't there with Exchange - you need to buy additional products like SharePoint etc.

I love FOSS software and use it both at work and at home, but when tens of thousands of people depend on something for their daily work, its the robustness of the application, but more importantly the tools available to diagnose it that are the real plus points.

I don't mind trawling through logs and text-based consoles to fix things when I need to, but if someone provides something which will take me straight to the root of the problem so I can fix it - that locks me in better than anything else.

Business users don't care what they use. They want something familiar, which does what they want (sorry but mail and calendar integration in one application is more or less a must here), and is easy to use. If something goes wrong, they want it fixed quickly.

IT people are the cause of the lock-in. They make the technical decision on what to use. In a large number of cases, the technology is only part of the decision. Management of it and what is available to support you in that is, if anything, more important than the technology itself. If there's one thing we IT people know, no matter how good the vendor-speak is, the damn thing will break at some point...and that's when the real lock-in occurs as its all about restoring service as quickly as possible.

We also need to consider employee churn within IT. Sooner or later people will leave and you need to be able to replace them quickly. There are larger skills bases out there for Domino/Exchange than for anything else. Plus, if I need to get people trained, I need to make sure that it is worthwhile; not just sticking them in front of Google and asking them to go figure it out for themselves.

I LOVE FOSS stuff, but you need to remember that Exchange/Domino were released into a world which already had mail servers etc which were established. Yet, they won; but they won because they were good and they worked easier than what was there already. All the philisophical debate in the world can't get around that.

Think different...

Mario Giammarco's picture

We use www.citadel.org. It is opensource, free, rock solid and well supported. Now we have 50 accounts (but 40 gigabytes of indexed mail).

It is marketed as a bbs but it is very powerful!

Too many feature to write here, goto the site.


War-lord's picture

So guys if I have 100 - 200 users what is your best option to use and a cheap one?

Exchange or not exchange that is the answer

Simon Quantrill's picture

We use postfix for all MTA stuff and in the past kolab suite but because it was a pain to work with we switched to dovecot. To get the shared calendar working we use zarafa it works well I have yet to integrate it into the mail system but I might just use it as the calendaring application as it supports ICAL I misunderstood the sales person!! I wanted ICAL plus the ability to use IMAP I meant my own IMAP server zarafa comes with its own and thats not quite what I wanted.. oh well!. As everything is authenticated using ldap then its not to much of a problem to have desperate applications.

Clients vary as does type of OS there are windows users using outlook or thunderbird and there are unix/linux users using pine,mutt thunderbird and kontact. All see to work flawlessly.

We have a number of services using the mail server as a gateway and that has been working great for years..

Please elaborate, exactly

Del's picture

Please elaborate, exactly what did you find painful with Kolab, and which version of Kolab does the experience stem from?

Exchange replacement

Anonymous's picture

How about to replace exchange with:

Postfix+dovecot+chandler-server (http://chandlerproject.org/Developers/DownloadChandlerServer) (shared calendars?)

After that You can use thunderbird + mozilla lightning to provide free alternative (email+shared calendars) with multiplatform support (win/mac/linux)

Okey, ChandlerServer still lacks support to ldap, but it is free and it works..

Exchanging Exchange

leftystrat's picture

We're kinda stuck with Exchange until I get the campaign into high gear (and I'm sooooo tired). I figure there's some hope when the CIO says he saw a presentation on an Exchange alternative which runs on linux, so I'll love it :)

In any case, it's more a matter of the clients where I work. We who use the One True OS can connect with Evolution. Or Thunderbird or any halfway decent email client (if we don't want calendar and address book).

But I'll be looking. Especially before the drums start beating for Exch 2007 or whatever.

Just a view from the left hand side.

Exchanging exchange

pmccrackan's picture

Hi, I'm using Axigen (on an opensolaris vm) at present just for home use. It's quite good, easy to use, set up etc with all the functions you would expect of a mail server these days. It has a community edition that limits you to 5 accounts, but otherwise fully functional.
I had a look at Communigate after reading the comments here and have found it too has a community edition, so I am giving that a go now as well. Set up for it is a bit mind boggling at first, but I guess I will get to learn my way around. Just running a test domain for the moment on my home LAN for the time being.
Cheers, Peter.

Main box OpenSuSe 11.2 64 bit, everything else is a VM.

Affordable, Professional Alternative

Andrew's picture

I use Mailtrust: http://www.mailtrust.com. Their service is reliable, affordable, and does everything I need. Their support staff is excellent as well!

Runs on Linux

Kennon's picture

I expect to get flamed here by the chicken little crowd, but you should try Novell GroupWise again. It runs rock solid on Linux and GroupWise 7 or 8 has little to no admin overhead once it is up and running. We run a 4500+ user environment here with one admin. We have older hardware, pentium4 class machines with 2 gigs of ram and they handle several of hundreds of users each swimmingly. I am in the process of migrating them into a Xen virtualized environments and the real world hardware utilization numbers are so spartan that I am really getting to stretch my virtualization budget a lot further than we originally anticipated. I know most people have a lot of preconceptions about Novell and GroupWise from the legacy systems but if you haven't used it lately it is basically a whole new product. And it has a number of very functional clients that support Mac, Linux and Windows, not to mention an open SOAP API and native Evolution client support for your Linux desktop users. You can also run the back end on Windows, Linux or Netware. It is by far the most flexible and stable enterprise class messaging system I know of. And if you are truly looking for an enterprise class messaging system then you know that message retention and legal compliance is a major factor. GroupWise has a plethora of very powerful auditing and retention systems available for it. Try to set your prejudices aside and give it a whirl.

our experience not so good

Anonymous's picture

That sure hasn't been our experience with groupwise. We also have around 5000 users. Our deployment (set up by Novell recommended vendors) is a pair of Linux servers using a common fiber channel SAN for storage. We find that some of the services crash frequently (almost daily sometimes) and performance is often poor. The total lack of any real spam filtering is inexcusable. We ended up putting a baracuda appliance in front of the mail servers to get spam filtering. IMO groupwise has a no more than basic feature set even on the client end. We bought it because they had the lowest quote between them, exchange and lotus/domino. Now we know why.


Wyatt's picture

Zimbra, hands down. If you're looking for an open source alternative to Exchange, one of the most important things to look at is the community. The Zimbra community on the forums is awesome and the Zimbra staff really pay attention to what we as the community say.

Any thoughts on Zarafa?

midair77's picture

I am a current OpenExchange 5 users and I am looking to stop using it entirely. OX 5 has turned out to work not so well for us. The OXconnecter to connect Outlook has not work well at all. OX 5 depends on Tomcat and Java and these two caused problems and broke the web interface of OX 5 beyond repairs.

I also have used Zimbra (free) for my other gigs and it has worked well but the packaging of Zimbra is not very desirable.

I am currently very interested in Zarafa as it provides a very similar interface with Exchange web interface and use Postfix (independently). I have heard praises from currently users. I am waiting for the latest stable release to test and migrate my users over to this server. By the way, Zarafa is full MAPI compatible and supposed to work with Outlook without any connectors. Zarafa is said to be a member of a group to develop an open source version for MAPI.

And lastly, if you currently have AD then you should look into PostPath.


Mail/calendring alternatives

Del's picture

The platform independent proprietary alternative is IBM's Lotus Notes, which has proven itself in huge companies.

The leading open alternative is in my opinion Kolab, which is maturing nicely these days. It has full functionality with the Horde web-interface. Full natuve support in Kontact. Full support in Outlook through the Toltec connector. Mail support with any client, calender support with Thunderbird, with scheduling on it's way through the synckolab plug-in. Kolab suport is also included in future plans for Evolution. SyncML is now out in the beta-version released right before Christmas, providing native mobile sync with leading brands. Moreover, all the locked up proprietary vendors through the funambol plug-in.

I really don't see the office integration issue. Try out Alfresco if you are simply looking for a document management system.

To the reader further up dissing samba/openldap. OpenLDAP has proven itself for authentication in huge professional environments, and has performance absolutely superior to MS based solutions. Centralised storage is of course also available in many flavours, with NFS frequently sufficient.

Zimbra/Google Apps

Pappas's picture

Self Hosted/Controlled Hosting: Zimbra
Outsourced: Google Apps Enterprise

Depending on the business need/control requirements, I have gone with/recommended either Zimbra or Google Apps, and personally use both. I love Zimbra, as it has a cohesive PIM suite that simply and seamlessly syncs with my mobile devices. Google Apps does not have the high degree of client seamlessness that Zimbra has: Web, complete Outlook (PIM, Filters, GAL, etc), Zimbra Desktop, iPhone/WAP, OTA ActiveSync, etc.

AFAIK, with the Yahoo acquisition of Zimbra, Yahoo is rolling its offerings on to a Zimbra platform (Calendar first then Yahoo Plus accounts).

Both are strong offerings, so really it depends on what the business requirements are. Searching within either is fantastic, as is the overall usability of the interfaces.

John Pappas