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Open-source Challenge To Exchange Gains Steam

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the without-exchange-there-is-no-civilization dept.

Microsoft 164

jbrodkin writes "An open-source, cloud-based e-mail alternative to Microsoft Exchange called Open-Xchange has signed up two new service providers and predicts it will have 40 million users by the end of 2011. Based in Germany, Open-Xchange has tripled its user base from 8 million to 24 million paid seats since 2008, with the help of three dozen service providers including 1&1 Internet, among the world's largest Web hosting companies. Microsoft is still the 800-pound gorilla, with a worldwide install base of 301 million mailboxes in 2010, expected to reach 470 million by 2014. But Open-Xchange is luring numerous service providers who are wary of Microsoft's attempts to compete against its own partners by selling hosted e-mail services directly to its customers."

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164 comments

google apps ftw! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35047412)

We have our email hosted on google apps. It's free for 50 employees a year and we couldn't be happier!

Re:google apps ftw! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35047422)

Goddamn it! My first frosty piss ever and I didn't even log in! Fuck!

Re:google apps ftw! (4, Interesting)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 3 years ago | (#35047428)

Unfortunately, it's also wholly unsuitable for any business needing absolute confidentiality, just like every cloud solution.

Re:google apps ftw! (2)

seifried (12921) | more than 3 years ago | (#35047444)

There's a solution for that, it's called "encryption".

Re:google apps ftw! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35047472)

In the world of real business, just saying the word "encryption" is meaningless. The standards that need to be met are summed up easily, called "PCI compliance".

Sadly, most any cloud from any company does not meet most PCI or SAS70 requirements. Until it does, cloud is for mom and pop shops.

PCI compliance? (2)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 3 years ago | (#35047502)

Judging from a cursory perusal of the PCI DSS quick reference guide, as long as the business has in place a policy which forbids sending payment card numbers over email in the clear, it should still be able to use a cloud-based email solution. Do you have personal knowledge which contradicts this?

Re:PCI compliance? (2)

shaper (88544) | more than 3 years ago | (#35047556)

A policy has to be auditable for it to be valid and PCI compliant. A PCI audit will be considerably more involved than just browsing through your gmail inbox. The audit will cover network communications, hardware, software, change processes and accountability and access controls. Anybody in human resources, finance or accounting who doesn't already know this needs to be fired.

And don't forget HIPPA, SOX and a host of other rules and regulations involving the handling different data that can so easily slip into email. Add in legal liability from privacy breaches and a whole lot of other concerns which make some kinds of data processing and storage outsourcing difficult there days.

Re:PCI compliance? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35047638)

HIPPA appears to be largely unenforced:

Between April 2003 and Nov. 30, the agency fielded 23,896 complaints related to medical-privacy rules, but it has not yet taken any enforcement actions against hospitals, doctors, insurers or anyone else for rule violations. A spokesman for the agency says it has closed three-quarters of the complaints, typically because it found no violation or after it provided informal guidance to the parties involved.

I'd be very concerned about any company that is sending info by email that related to the HIPPA rules.

I read up on SOX. Does seem to be a big deal although I still can't see how Google's solutions don't comply.

If such claims are going to be made specify what doesn't comply. I'm not saying you are wrong. Only that people have made these claims repeatedly without backing it up.
 

Re:PCI compliance? (4, Interesting)

linuxrocks123 (905424) | more than 3 years ago | (#35047804)

As far as I can tell, SOX is probably the second-most over-hyped piece of legal misunderstanding promulgated as fact on Slashdot, position #1 being the recurring myth that ISPs are subject to common carrier regulations.

SOX applies to public companies only. From Wikipedia, it does not appear to place any specific requirements on corporate IT, except that the corporate IT will be audited for compliance with the "normal" parts of the law -- so you have to keep records on various things. This hasn't stopped people from making shit up -- if the law specifies that certain data must be "retained" for X months, Slashdotters and charlatans selling "SOX compliance" services are going to say that means the law says you have to use RAID 1000000 and update your offsite backups every 2 days. Just, cuz, you know, that's standard practice.

The law -- and I haven't read it, but I can guarantee you OP hasn't either -- doesn't say anything like that. Just like it doesn't say you have to chisel your non-digital documents in titanium sheets in case the building catches fire. It's not specifying particular standards -- it's just saying you can't be Enron. If the building catches fire or the hard drive crashes, well, you know, shit happens. Whether not installing sprinklers or not having backups was negligent or in bad faith is for a court to decide. So far, it hasn't come up.

OP -- and I don't know him, and he's probably a nice guy -- may now tell me about his personal experience with how Fortune 500 companies DO chisel Xeroxes into titanium and DO use RAID 1000000 and daily updated offsite backups AND ANYTHING ELSE IS NEGLIGENT AND WOULD GET ME THROWN INTO JAIL IN THE "REAL WORLD". And I'm probably going to ignore him because this post took all the time I want to spend talking about this. But: unless he backs his claims up with a statute, a court case, or at least a letter ruling from some relevant executive branch agency ... I'd be suspicious, man. Think of all the corporate incompetence with information management (laptops with credit cards gone missing ... oops) you hear about on Slashdot. Now think if Slashdot talks about anyone going to jail for that, or even getting in any real trouble.

---linuxrocks123

Re:PCI compliance? (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 3 years ago | (#35048040)

Couldn't agree more. Most regulatory frameworks are overhyped. When you actually sit down and read the law and relevant regulations (if such exist), you realize that the hype has been fueling lots of oh-shit-what-do-I-do-now type of CYA spending for consultants and "solution providers". The real issue? Execs can't be bothered to RTFL (refer to the fine law) and such. They will listen to (and take for good money) bullshit made up by various advisors and consultants who only have their own interests in mind.

Re:PCI compliance? (2)

S.O.B. (136083) | more than 3 years ago | (#35048914)

Shhhhh. Don't tell the business users. They never want to pay for system improvements because they don't "see" the effects. We used to slide in all sorts of system improvements they never would have paid for by saying that it was a "SOX requirement".

SOX is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Re:PCI compliance? (3, Insightful)

mvdwege (243851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35048070)

Right on.

I work in computer security, and I have had training in SOx compliance, and all that you say is exactly what I learned.

All SOx requires is a clear chain of responsibility. In theory, a company could be SOx compliant if the CEO were to sign a statement saying he is personally responsible for the outcome of all business processes. Practically, no CEO will do so, therefore a clear, documented process is necessary, so that when the company does something contrary to the law, a responsible employee can be identified (and prosecuted).

Mart

Re:PCI compliance? (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 3 years ago | (#35048732)

IANAL but...

SOX applies to public companies only. From Wikipedia, it does not appear to place any specific requirements on corporate IT, except that the corporate IT will be audited for compliance with the "normal" parts of the law

aren't most corporate IT departments part of public companies? In which case, storage of old data is a requisite, and besides - backups are a very important part of all IT depts anyway.

Our backup tapes are taken offsite every night as part of normal rotation, and a previous company I worked for just had a fire safe to put tapes in, but still took tapes offsite every week. I think that's standard practice for every IT department worth its salt.

Full stop. (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 3 years ago | (#35048774)

The law -- and I haven't read it

This does not inspire a high level of confidence in anything which follows.

Re:google apps ftw! (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 3 years ago | (#35048162)

You've missed something that Google (and, for that matter, the Open X-Change people) haven't.

The great majority of businesses are actually pretty small. They don't need huge amounts of infrastructure - there's a good chance their entire server setup is a small box running SBS purchased 5 or 6 years ago, it's starting to look a bit elderly and the business doesn't want to commit the capital expenditure to another similar system. Something like Google apps solves that very neatly.

Larger businesses probably won't go for something like this, but many smaller business may not need to care about things like SOX, PCI etc. So it works pretty well for them.

Re:google apps ftw! (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35048192)

Hosting email, including web access and even calendaring, is not particularly CPU-intensive. A 1GHz machine would be massively overspec'd for the task. For about £200, you can get a machine with RAID and a DVD-R for backups (burn one every day, have the managing director take it home) that will easily handle the task for 50+ employees. If you go with Google instead, then you have absolutely no recourse if (as has happened in the past), they lose your data. If your company can afford to lose emails, then that's probably fine, and you can justify not paying the £200 (which would count as an operating cost and be offset against tax).

If you're ever involved in legal action and need to produce emails, then saying 'sorry, Google lost them' probably won't stand up in court.

Re:google apps ftw! (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 3 years ago | (#35048438)

Hosting email, including web access and even calendaring, is not particularly CPU-intensive. A 1GHz machine would be massively overspec'd for the task.

Microsoft Exchange I find can be really demanding with just ten users when there is loads of e-mails stored, Zimbra can be an issue with just it's MySQL and Java components, Novell Groupwise can be a real pain in the ass at times on slower hardware, making you wait and this is all with a minimal amount of users. Now, admittedly, the systems I've mentioned didn't degrate significantly beyond what it had reached already (except for Microsoft Exchange. but that's another story) when under far greater loads of users, but still...

I'm not convinced about your 'recommended requirements' from my real world experience to be perfectly honest.

Re:google apps ftw! (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35048526)

SOGo supports 50,000 clients on a modern dual-core machine quite happily. If your software can't even cope with ten without struggling, then that says a lot about the quality of the software.

It's been a while, but when I was at university we were providing email for a computer society with about 200 users from a 133MHz Pentium. This included SMTP, IMAP, POP3 (all encrypted), as well as Webmail. The same machine also hosted a talker, personal web pages for all of the members, and NFS shares for home directory access from half a dozen workstations.

Re:google apps ftw! (1)

oiron (697563) | more than 3 years ago | (#35048512)

We tried it at my company. For years! We finally shifted to Google Apps, and we're quite happy...

Here are the problems with DIY servers:

  • Uptime - given that we are not, and have never been, a service provider, our connection was never a datacenter-multiple-redundancies-T3-five-nines-uptime thing. At the time, it was a pair of DSLs with static IPs. Run through an elderly Linux box that acted as the router/NAT and mail server. I don't remember our uptime figures, but it was definitely not perfect.
  • Speeds - again, not a backbone connection. We had to choose between allowing large attachments and slowing down everyone's browsers.
  • Maintenance - every time there was a problem with the server, one of us, who knew how it was setup or operated had to break whatever we were doing and spend half a day troubleshooting. Yeah yeah, "have a dedicated IT department"... Makes very little sense for 30 people...

  • Google gives us each 7 GB, a calendar that we can access anywhere, shared contacts, freakin' phone mail and lots more besides!

Frankly, it's just better value for smaller outfits.

As for losing mails, which do you think is more probably going to lose mails? A hacked-together old box running an ancient copy of sendmail, or Google? Besides, if your mails are really that important, download them using IMAP and back them up as you would anyway! That's what we do...

Re:google apps ftw! (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 3 years ago | (#35048514)

'coz we all know that installing, maintaining, administering a mail server and its attendant backups, antivirus, antispam... indeed costs a flat £200

Re:google apps ftw! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35048884)

I know of at least 2 pretty large businesses (3000+) that switched to Google (from Exchange and Lotus resp.). Also, on Google's site there is a add-vid about Motorola being on Google for some time now and more than happy with it.
Just imagine getting rid of those so-called IT-experts pushing your company in the arms of the lock-in every new upgrade.

Re:google apps ftw! (1)

happymellon (927696) | more than 3 years ago | (#35048472)

In the world of real business, just saying the word "encryption" is meaningless. The standards that need to be met are summed up easily, called "PCI compliance".

Sadly, most any cloud from any company does not meet most PCI or SAS70 requirements. Until it does, cloud is for mom and pop shops.

What??? How should your email platform have much impact on you PCI compliance?

Rule number 1: DO NOT EMAIL CREDIT CARD NUMBERS. Instant dismissal.

All email platforms are covered. Seriously, never send them over email. Ever. There is never a situation where you should send an unencrypted credit card number over email.

Re:google apps ftw! (2)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 3 years ago | (#35047630)

If you use encryption on Gmail you lose the entire benefit since you become unable to search the mails. You end up with a slightly inconvenient IMAP server. You might as well just get a traditional Unix mail instead.

Re:google apps ftw! (3, Interesting)

Swampash (1131503) | more than 3 years ago | (#35047612)

it's also wholly unsuitable for any business needing absolute confidentiality, just like every cloud solution

Just like every solution that involves clients, nodes, servers, networks, and software not designed, built, operated, and controlled only by you. Which is pretty much all of them.

If your communications are so sensitive that HTTP over SSL with a corporation that offers you an SLA isn't enough, and you choose to send email in the clear without encryption, then your communications obviously aren't as sensitive as you think.

Re:google apps ftw! (2)

xushi (740195) | more than 3 years ago | (#35047664)

There's no such thing as "absolute confidentiality".

Absolute? (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 3 years ago | (#35047762)

I'm pretty sure that if you need to have absolute confidentiality, this ain't going to do it. For that you need to pass the info verbally, without records, in an unexpected open space. Better security than that can be had by the maxim: "A secret is a fact known by one person only. If two people know it, it's information. If three people know it, it's rumor."

Re:google apps ftw! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35047790)

pig fucking retard.

Re:google apps ftw! (1)

h00manist (800926) | more than 3 years ago | (#35047800)

I used to consider businesses, and therefore Exchange, were the most important target public for launching Linux adoption numbers. Nowadays I think it's the average teenage/entertainment user, and therefore, msn/IM clients, games, p2p apps, media players, and the browser. Basically all they use. Yes Linux does all that, but some details of the apps, or their installation, can't be figured out by these impatient users. What I know for sure is they buy computers with Linux preinstalled, and, without even knowing what is different, start asking why they can't install X game, the "other" msn, and how to "fix" it, because it's "broken". I just interpret they haven't been able to get those basic apps going for them, they havent found a "gamesmsnp2pandbrowserwizard". It's not working, so it's broken. And when it's "working", they normally do manage to get those going. "Working" of course means their familiar environment and way of downloading and installing is there.

Shameless promotion? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35047434)

Shameless promotion. NetworkWorld has too many of them. Maybe Slashdot should stop posting articles from them?
And I tried to use Open-Xchange once. Not quite that usable, unless they've made big progress.

Re:Shameless promotion? (1)

Megaweapon (25185) | more than 3 years ago | (#35048342)

Look at the submitter's handle, then look at the author's name of the NetworkWorld article...

Who asked for an open-source Exchange server (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35047446)

... that plays Counterstrike? See, this is why Microsoft wins. Focus, people.

Remote wipe? (1)

MrQuacker (1938262) | more than 3 years ago | (#35047456)

Why is this better than MS? And can someone still remote wipe all my iStuff remotely? (with/out my permission)

Re:Remote wipe? (1)

johnsnails (1715452) | more than 3 years ago | (#35047480)

Its not!

Re:Remote wipe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35047504)

Generally if you connect your iStuff to your companies network, you have to sign something saying you understand that they have the right to wipe said device. Unless the admins are morons, of course.

Re:Remote wipe? (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#35047634)

Generally if you connect your iStuff to your companies network, you have to sign something saying you understand that they have the right to wipe said device. Unless the admins are morons, of course.

Except it's not always to your "companies network". In many cases it's to your ISP or e-mail hosting provider account.

Can you explain what business a hosting provider has being able to wipe your device?

Even if they promise only to use the option if you cancel services (or fail to pay your bill).... what business does anyone have being able to wipe your device just because you connected to their server, really?

Re:Remote wipe? (1)

Macthorpe (960048) | more than 3 years ago | (#35048324)

What evidence have you seen that e-mail hosting providers wipe accounts without instruction from their customers?

If they started doing that, it would basically be the same as kicking their own customers in the nuts and telling them to switch provider.

Re:Remote wipe? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35047524)

Why is this better than MS?

Easy, because it's not Microsoft and uses the word "open" in it's name. Is this your first time posting on Slashdot?

Re:Remote wipe? (1)

ocdscouter (1922930) | more than 3 years ago | (#35047616)

Why is this better than MS?

Easy, because it's not Microsoft and uses the word "open" in it's name. Is this your first time posting on Slashdot?

This is my first time posting on Slashdot, you insensitive clod!

Re:Remote wipe? (1)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 3 years ago | (#35047872)

Damnit, i wanted this to be true so much that i actually checked.

OpenChange and SOGo - Truly free/freedom Exchange (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35047496)

Don't worry about Open-Xchange, OpenChange + SOGo is the real open source alternative:

http://www.openchange.org/index.php/component/content/article/7-news/55-openchange-and-sogo-the-first-interoperable-and-exchange-compatible-groupware-solution

- OpenChange Server is a transparent and native Exchange replacement for Microsoft Outlook users working on top of Samba 4. With OpenChange, you don't need costly MAPI connectors anymore.

- SOGo is a reliable groupware server with a focus on scalability and open standards. Let your Mozilla Thunderbird/Lightning, Apple iCal/iPhone, BlackBerry and now Microsoft Outlook users collaborate using a modern platform.

No per-seat CALS or license fees whatsovever.

Re:OpenChange and SOGo - Truly free/freedom Exchan (3, Interesting)

stiller (451878) | more than 3 years ago | (#35047794)

OpenChange is very promising, but hardly production ready.
SOGo is not a feature per feature match for OX, Scalix, Zimbra or Zarafa. These are all mature projects with a large installed user base. If you are worried about license fees (which usually include paid support), you can always use the free editions of these projects and not use Outlook.

Re:OpenChange and SOGo - Truly free/freedom Exchan (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 3 years ago | (#35047828)

OpenChange seems to be a layer for implementing the proprietary exchange protocols used by outlook, so how difficult would it be to make openchange talk to the free versions of these other projects instead of having a plugin on the client?

Re:OpenChange and SOGo - Truly free/freedom Exchan (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35048202)

SOGo already uses open protocols (e.g. CalDAV, CardDAV, GroupDAV, IMAP) for integrating with clients that support open protocols. For example, it works with Apple's iCal or Mozilla Sunbird for calendaring by using this protocol. You only need the OpenChange when using Microsoft's client - anything else should work directly.

Re:OpenChange and SOGo - Truly free/freedom Exchan (1)

stiller (451878) | more than 3 years ago | (#35048408)

This is also the case for many of the commercial open source offerings. I know at least Zimbra supports the four protocols you mentioned. These protocols are really great and completely open, but their biggest drawback is increased configuration on the client side - not very user friendly.

Re:OpenChange and SOGo - Truly free/freedom Exchan (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35048560)

Inverse, the company behind SOGo, has also released extensions to Lightning and Thunderbird, that provide a better groupware solution if you want a fat client. User configuration is pretty simple with this installed, but it seems like a red herring - anyone using Exchange is likely to have an IT department pushing out preconfigured client installs.

Re:OpenChange and SOGo - Truly free/freedom Exchan (1)

stiller (451878) | more than 3 years ago | (#35048398)

It should be possible. I know it has been done for z-push (open activesync, originally from Zarafa) and Zimbra, an unrelated product. Implementing OpenChange for these projects might not be in the best interest of the involved companies, since most of their revenue comes from charging for their specific Outlook plug-in.

Re:OpenChange and SOGo - Truly free/freedom Exchan (1)

bn-7bc (909819) | more than 3 years ago | (#35048292)

OpenChange Server is a transparent and native Exchange replacement for Microsoft Outlook users working on top of Samba 4. With OpenChange, you don't need costly MAPI connectors anymore.

Hmm, when i checked a few minutes ago Alpha 13 was the latest Samba 4 release, I certainly hope that no business runs alpha software, so for all practical purposes OpenChange still requires the MAPI connectors:

Re:OpenChange and SOGo - Truly free/freedom Exchan (1)

justsomebody (525308) | more than 3 years ago | (#35048896)

and just what makes your alpha assumption?

i could very well put alpha on all of my apps and know they are rock stable. and some proprietary ??finished?? softwares really don't deserve final version.

alpha very well depends on how you develop
- if you add feature, make it rock stable, add feature... your alpha will just miss some features but still be better than most finalized
- if you add all features and then start polishing... your alpha will really be a piece of shit like you describe

Re:OpenChange and SOGo - Truly free/freedom Exchan (2)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 3 years ago | (#35048836)

It is true that OpenChange and SOGo look very promising and I am following the news with quite a bit of interest. One day it will be production ready. That said, Open Xchange is open source to a point. I think Open-Xchange is more crippleware because you have to buy the product in order to get Outlook integration, or at least the last time I looked into it.

A link would have been nice (4, Informative)

skrowl (100307) | more than 3 years ago | (#35047532)

Here's the direct link to go read about it if you don't want to go through the networkworld blogspam article: http://www.open-xchange.com/ [open-xchange.com]

The "Server edition" is $1300, and they make you open a blind link to a PDF to figure that out.

Here's a handy feature matrix but noticeably absent is the free "community edition": http://oxpedia.org/index.php?title=OX_Product_Matrix [oxpedia.org]

Also, the activesync thing (oxtender) is completely non-free and only available in the licensed versions.

Re:A link would have been nice (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35047586)

As opposed to:

http://www.openchange.org

Which only has the free/freedom community edition.

Re:A link would have been nice (2)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#35047648)

This is why all the Exchange "alternatives" are doomed to failure. The free/inexpensive options all lack the critical functionality of Activesync or Outlook interoperability.

When software makers add these worthy functionality, they immediately try to start pricing their product at the same level as Exchange.

This is obviously some sort of shared greed complex. "We have the same functionality as this really expensive (overpriced) software, so we can charge a lot for it too...."

Well, they're not Microsoft. And if they want to charge more than 30% of the cost of Exchange (which is already massively overpriced), then they should just get out, because they are cluttering the market place and contributing to making simple functionality expensive.

Re:A link would have been nice (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35047722)

If you think of it as a small price to pay to get out of Exchange while still keeping a (constantly shrinking) number of seats on Windows, then it's a useful migration tool, isn't it?

Re:A link would have been nice (2)

jimicus (737525) | more than 3 years ago | (#35048198)

Not really.

Most businesses want a solution, not a religion. When you are already comfortable with Exchange, any alternative will have to offer some real, tangible benefits.

The most likely potential benefits are:

  • Greater functionality: No chance. None of the F/OSS clones offer even comparable functionality, let alone greater functionality unless you go out and pay for the commercial version. There are one or two solutions which claim not to fall into this trap, but they fall into the age-old F/OSS trap of doing things so differently that there is no way the Powers that Be will sign off on the change and when challenged, the developers insist that their way is better.
  • Significantly cheaper: Nope, you either go for the free version (with seriously reduced functionality) or the commercial version (which is probably still slightly less capable than Exchange but costs about the same).
  • Resolves a problem that exists in Exchange. Well, despite the traditional /. view, Exchange is not that bad a product, and for most businesses their existing Exchange server is perfectly adequate and they don't have any significant complaints.

Re:A link would have been nice (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 3 years ago | (#35047840)

Zarafa has free activesync support...
Support for outlook is usually non free because they have to pay a per seat license fee to microsoft in order to write a plugin to outlook...

Re:A link would have been nice (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35048428)

This is obviously some sort of shared greed complex. "We have the same functionality as this really expensive (overpriced) software, so we can charge a lot for it too...."

You hear this comment alot about anything with a high price tag. Funnily enough you will almost never hear it from someone who has run their own business; because they know that although products can appear very high margin to the consumer in reality there are many other costs to consider, aside from manufacturing and development (which costs a shit load in itself). It is far from unusual to have a marketing budget taking up 20-30% of a companies entire spend. Then there is the staff costs, utilities, administration, audits, materials, rent, tax etc etc the list just goes on and on. After all those things have been paid for, those big product margins ain't looking so big anymore...

It may seem like greed to an outsider, but it's pretty bold of you to make such a statement without seeing their accounts. Expensive does not equal overpriced.

Re:A link would have been nice (1)

operator_error (1363139) | more than 3 years ago | (#35047774)

Wow, I thought this was a Slashvertisement for OpenXchange and your specs detail that for me. Those specs. seems to match the business model of Zimbra, another Exchange competitor, right down to the community edition being available for free unsupported. Yet I see no mention of Zimbra in TFA. And I think Zimbra has a lot of users too.

How much does it cost to set up local BSD/Linux? (1)

nzac (1822298) | more than 3 years ago | (#35047552)

I’m just curious as to how much it would be to setup (hardware costs) a local BSD or linux SMTP or pop mail server for say a business of 50 or 100 people?

Re:How much does it cost to set up local BSD/Linux (2)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 3 years ago | (#35047572)

It needs an immense expertise.

Re:How much does it cost to set up local BSD/Linux (1)

nzac (1822298) | more than 3 years ago | (#35047642)

Are there no decent wizard based setups?

Though i could see that getting everyone able to connect to the server could be frustrating. A large number of Linux distributions come with a mail server on the install disk (are these just never used?). Yast (openSUSE) has wizard that appears to allow you to set a mail server in 3 min if you can figure out what to put in a few fields (A reasonable tutorial should be able to solve this).

Re:How much does it cost to set up local BSD/Linux (1)

satuon (1822492) | more than 3 years ago | (#35047752)

Can't they hire someone to do it for them? But may be the cost would exceed using Microsoft Exchange.

Re:How much does it cost to set up local BSD/Linux (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 3 years ago | (#35047842)

A unix mail server will usually work out of the box for simple use (ie one domain, add users to the os)...

Re:How much does it cost to set up local BSD/Linux (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35048602)

Really? Setting up Sendmail + Dovecot took me a couple of hours last time I did it, and it's something I only do once every few years so I generally need to reread all of the documentation each time to remember how it all works. This is on FreeBSD, with OpenBSD's spamd in front of sendmail. The hardware costs are tiny. Any relatively modern machine should be able to handle a few hundred clients.

Webmail can be a bit more effort, although simple things like SquirrelMail are practically configuration-free (they use the IMAP server for authentication, so just point them at the correct server and you're ready to go).

Or you can just grab an appliance-style distribution. There are quite a few available, just pick one, install it, and you're done.

Re:How much does it cost to set up local BSD/Linux (1)

witherstaff (713820) | more than 3 years ago | (#35047622)

For that few of people almost anything would work. Email isn't processor intensive, spam filtering can be a little but it isn't that much. Just need a lot of disk space per user. For personal email I use a low wattage atom processor, for a business I'd go with any raid system for a little redundancy. Software wise postfix (SMTP), dovecot (POP/IMAP) and amavisd for some spam filtering is a good fit. Plenty of walkthroughs on how to do it if you've never used the software, FreeBSD has these all as default ports to make it easier. I've used this general setup for a regional ISP and it's solid. It doesn't take much for admin and maintenance either. There are optional installs for web interface to control spam filters through like a squirrelmail webmail and other tweaks but those aren't bad.

If the business already has an IT person comfortable with BSD/linux it's a viable option. If not google apps can save a lot of headaches for the cost, or other alternatives like this. Also it depends on if shared calendaring and outlook integration is already part of the business. SMTP Email is easy but if the place is used to outlook calendaring that's another matter.

Re:How much does it cost to set up local BSD/Linux (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35048618)

spam filtering can be a little but it isn't that much

OpenBSD's spamd is now in ports for FreeBSD, and it has very low CPU usage. Putting this on the front line can significantly reduce the amount of CPU time spent running your bayesian spam filters.

Re:How much does it cost to set up local BSD/Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35047624)

Find an old malware-ridden Windows machine that someone is dumping, and obtain a Linux or BSD LiveCD from mail order for between $5 and $10.

Total cost - can be between $5 and $10 plus 20 minutes of your time.

Re:How much does it cost to set up local BSD/Linux (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 3 years ago | (#35048048)

This would be funny if it wasn't true in a way. Many non-technical users are treating computers as a system: to them, software and hardware are hard to distinguish. If it doesn't work, you get a new one. Plenty of perfectly good (hardware-wise) PCs have been tossed because Windows has ceased to operate (usually due to malware).

Re:How much does it cost to set up local BSD/Linux (4, Informative)

Deviant (1501) | more than 3 years ago | (#35047746)

The problem with this view is that it is missing some functionality that people now consider part of email thanks to Microsoft and Outlook/Exchange or Lotus Notes/Domino. If you have never worked in a company that makes use of these features you wouldn't understand - but if any of your coworkers have they will expect them from you and will find your IMAP mail system to inadequate and unacceptable.

First is Calendaring - inviting people to appointments and booking in meeting rooms and shared resources (projectors etc) to those meetings. They even will recommend times when all the attendees and equipment is free. If you change the time it informs everyone and moves in all their calendars. This is not to mention sharing your calendar with others so everyone can keep track of where/what your team is up to. And you can do all of this on your mobile phone (ActiveSync or Blackberry) and have it update your server/client immediately.

Contacts - you can see all the people in your team, department and company. You can share your contacts with your coworkers. When you or they change them your phone updates with the changes immediately. I've seen our director's assistant add contacts to his mailbox via Outlook and he can call them from his phone's contacts within less than a minute when on the road.

Delegation - your assistant/gatekeeper or the person filling in for you when you are on leave can respond to your email and meeting requests on your behalf. It even says Susie Q on Behalf of John Doe etc. You can also have a departmental or a support or an information mailbox that many people check and share responsibility for.

Not to mention that Exchange offers the significant advantages of a large ecosystem of applications, tools and trained professionals that can back it up, maintain it, fix it, merge it, replicate it and all kinds of other things that you will eventually need to do in the life-cycle of an average modern mail system. I am dealing with a merger of two companies at the moment and them both running Exchange is a godsend - I'm glad it isn't an OpenExchange system I am having to merge with...

Re:How much does it cost to set up local BSD/Linux (1)

hughk (248126) | more than 3 years ago | (#35047894)

Not to mention that Exchange offers the significant advantages of a large ecosystem of applications, tools and trained professionals that can back it up, maintain it, fix it, merge it, replicate it and all kinds of other things that you will eventually need to do in the life-cycle of an average modern mail system. I am dealing with a merger of two companies at the moment and them both running Exchange is a godsend - I'm glad it isn't an OpenExchange system I am having to merge with...

I have been working at a major user of Exchange which has recently merged with another major user of Exchange. Mail goes down for periods of time. Mailboxes are 'lost' to parts of the merged bank. Performance has become a joke and senior management are in a state of denial (incidents are being downgraded). Oh, and the process was run by a major outsourcing provider who run the IT services. Yes, it seems that Exchange is not maintainable. The backups are iffy at best and even with the highest level of support, there isn't sufficient expertise to run it.

Re:How much does it cost to set up local BSD/Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35048042)

IME, that's not Exchanges fault..

Re:How much does it cost to set up local BSD/Linux (2)

Deviant (1501) | more than 3 years ago | (#35048320)

Exchange 2003 (now 8 years old) was really I/O heavy and wasn't really designed with large mailboxes in mind. Think back to the average mailbox and attachment size in 2003 (what was your HD size 8 years ago for example) and I think that they thought they exceeded what was necessary for a mail system but it is not really workable for a large organisation with modern needs any longer and buckles a bit under modern expectations - especially on older hardware.

2003 did a few things like single-instancing within a mail database which contributed to I/O and required them to limit the size of DBs to ~75-100GB. So in a large organisation you need many many mail databases and managing them all gets a bit overwhelming.

In Exchange 2007 they did pretty much a complete rewrite and removed single-instancing of everything but attachments reducing the I/O by ~70% for the same workload. In Excahnge 2010 they removed even the single instancing of attachments (if you send an email with an attachment to all staff of a 2000 employee company it stores that 2000 times) but were able to improve I/O by 70% again over 2007. It means you need alot more disk space and a mail archiving solution but storage is cheap these days while I/O is not.

The product has gotten much much better and more scalable in the last two versions. Your IT department either needs to do better with it's storage subsystem to provide 2003 with the necessay I/O (FiberChannel or 10 Gig iSCSI SAN with lots and lots of spindles, transaction logs on RAID10) and/or upgrade to a newer version of Exchange.

Re:How much does it cost to set up local BSD/Linux (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 3 years ago | (#35048400)

Think back to the average mailbox and attachment size in 2003

I remember recieving 3GB uncompressed avi files constantly from co-workers in my mail, honestly.

Re:How much does it cost to set up local BSD/Linux (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35047764)

SMTP or pop mail server

or?

Re:How much does it cost to set up local BSD/Linux (2)

shia84 (1985626) | more than 3 years ago | (#35048706)

Two weeks ago, I knew next to nothing about mail administration. I do however have enough experience as generic sysadmin. Took me about 3-4 hours reading into documentation for smtp, imap, exim (+addons), then about half an hour of configuration and now our working group (30 people) has a nicely working public facing mail server, all with aliases, mailing lists, synchronisation,...

Alternatives are good (4, Insightful)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 3 years ago | (#35047628)

For example, I think Slashdot needs to come up with an alternative logo for Microsoft stories. Sure, the old one was really stale - but at least it looked like a Borg. With the new one, it just looks like Gates is wearing a really poorly-designed Bluetooth phone headset.

Re:Alternatives are good (1)

ocdscouter (1922930) | more than 3 years ago | (#35047644)

With the new one, it just looks like Gates is wearing a really poorly-designed Bluetooth phone headset.

To be fair, the Collective isn't really known as a paragon of attractive and/or ergonomic design. But just wait 'till you see what they can do in terms of scalability!

Re:Alternatives are good (2)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 3 years ago | (#35047830)

Actually, it is a Bluetooth headset, with a poorly designed version of Bill Gates....

Re:Alternatives are good (1)

underqualified (1318035) | more than 3 years ago | (#35048786)

it looks like an icon from KDE2.

Community edition download (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35047692)

For those of you frustrated as I was at the labyrinthine task of actually finding the free version:

http://www.open-xchange.com/en/products/open-xchange-appliance-edition-en/download

I looked into OX a few months ago but actually dismissed it because, despite the "open" in the name, I couldn't tell that it was open source.

How are they better? (3, Informative)

NiteRiderXP (750309) | more than 3 years ago | (#35047704)

First of all, it is technically open source, but the license the community edition uses means it cannot legally be used by businesses.
It is definitely not a free alternative to M$ Exchange.
Each user license costs $52 for this product, an M$ Exchange CAL costs about as much, maybe a few bucks more.

Whoever designed the web access GUI went icon crazy and they are not very meaningful either.
Outlook Web Access is simple, this contraption had me guessing at what buttons do.

I manage an Exchange 2007 environment with roughly 700 users depending on it.
Originally having no experience, I got a test server up and running within a day.
The administrator tools are simple, powerful, and reliable; overall we have not had any serious issues in the past three years.
I also know that if something goes wrong, there is M$ support, service packs, backup software, DB repair tools, forums, etc.

Here is what happens with an open source product:
You install the product and spend the next couple of hours wading through text config files.
When you do manage to get the product to work, the thing does not work as expected.
You spend the next couple of hours cranking up debugging output and wading through source code.
If you are really masochistic you end up compiling your own build after you have found a bug.

Now in some cases going open source is worth the pain, especially when it brings additional functionality and cost savings.
Unfortunately, this open source product has the goal of duplicating functionality at a similar price point.
An additional thing to consider is that most open source products need more maintenance and labor.
This additional labor is highly in demand and is not at all cheap, which might make this an even more expensive solution than the original.

Re:How are they better? (3, Insightful)

ADRA (37398) | more than 3 years ago | (#35047826)

I can't say for the functionality, benefits, complexity, etc.. of the article's software, but I can think of many better things to spend 36K on than licensing Exchange. Don't even mention the server side licensing (Unless they've subsequently dropped server CAL requirements for exchange boxes), server first time costs, and yearly subscription fees to keep up to date with all the latest updates and support features that you list so highly. Throwing money at a problem may be -a- solution for -some- companies, but that can't be said for everyone. Of course that all assumes that Exchange is the better maintenance system, but as I see nobody doing empirical analysis, or even anecdotes, its hard for you, me, or the rest of the mob to come up with any sort of rational discourse.

"Here is what happens with an open source product:"

I really like how you pulled the old bait and switch here. Instead of listing the behavior of quoted product, you instead drill into why open source software is bad. Well, if you just took the software and didn't pay a dime for it, then maybe a few of those points apply. Maybe if you paid for the software, you could get paid support and the assurance that when a problem is found that it can actually be addressed without waiting quarters before a company decides to release an update to fix a bug. For real money, you can (for a lot cheaper seemingly) get a system that does more or less what Exchange does. As said earlier, I'd like someone who's actually used both systems in a real world scenario to talk about pros and cons, but since that isn't happening yet, lets keep the rhetoric to ourselves.

Re:How are they better? (1)

Zuato (1024033) | more than 3 years ago | (#35048566)

We had looked at this a year or so ago and opted not to go with it based on cost. The total cost of this was approximately the same as MS Exchange 2010 for our environment for the initial outlay, then Open-Exchange wants a yearly maintenance fee on top of that. With the Exchange package we purchased we don't have a yearly maintenance fee to pay outside of our spam filter (different company), and we have three years of support and upgrades.

So long as companies are going to tout themselves as open source yet charge as much (or more in some cases) as an established player they won't gain much traction. I'm all for open source, but this one was not a cost effective solution for our company.

Re:How are they better? (3, Informative)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 3 years ago | (#35047912)

Really? The CItadel Easy Install script runs in about 20 minutes. Citadel is easier to set up and administer than Exchange and it costs nothing.

Re:How are they better? (1)

KermitTheFragger (776174) | more than 3 years ago | (#35047986)

but the license the community edition uses means it cannot legally be used by businesses.

I don't think thats true. The server Core is GPL. The Web UI is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.5 of which they say: "Open-Xchange interprets Noncommercial to mean all INTERNAL individual, not-for-profit and for-profit use. ". http://www.open-xchange.com/node/783 [open-xchange.com]

The definition of "Noncommercial" is still being debated and defined within the Creative Commons community. It is a very difficult concept to define because there are so many scenarios to be considered. Open-Xchange interprets Noncommercial to mean all INTERNAL individual, not-for-profit and for-profit use. EXTERNAL individual, not-for-profit and for-profit use such a resale, rent and lease as well as inclusion of the digital content in an advertising model is considered COMMERCIAL use and prohibited under our interpretation of the license. We view the performance of professional services as a NONCOMMERCIAL INTERNAL use of the digital content and it is allowed.

Re:How are they better? (2)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 3 years ago | (#35048800)

Here is what happens with an open source product:

Here is what happens with an closed source product:

you install it with 1 click, but then spend the next few days going through GUI config screens./
When you do manage to get the product to work, the thing does not work as expected.
You spend the next week persuading your boss to send you on a week's training course, for only ten thousand dollars.
You come back with a couple of thick binders full of documentation that you already can't remember.
You spend a few more days tweaking and hope that it holds up when you take it live.

Much OSS is just the same as Close Source. Much of it is crap, but then much of the really expensive commercial software is equally crap. At least with OSS you don't have to stick with it because your boss who signed off the purchase order doesn't want to admit the project is a failure.OSS support (paid for) is nearly always better focussed on your needs, whereas support for commercial software is practically a marketing gimmick that can't keep up with the stack-it-high sales technique.

As it happens, the good OSS is far better than the commercial stuff. Sure, this doesn't always apply, but to prove a sweeping statement that OSS is crap is just childish.

Try OpenChange (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35047792)

OpenChange [openchange.org] is an actual FLOSS project without a "community edition" and a $$$ "server edition". It integrates with Samba and implements the MAPI protocol.

That's nothing (1)

stiller (451878) | more than 3 years ago | (#35047802)

It's not that impressive, really. Zimbra has gone from six million paid mailboxes in 2007, to 40 million in 2009, to 65 million in 2010.
I do believe all these commercial open source projects should work together on the OpenChange project to finally get rid of those Outlook connectors.

...or you can use Citadel - for FREE (2)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 3 years ago | (#35047824)

http://citadel.org/ [citadel.org] Citadel uses a proper database back-end and can handle terabytes of mail for thousands of users.

Re:...or you can use Citadel - for FREE (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35048432)

Citadel doesn't speak like Exchange, which is what this story is about. Thank you, please drive through [openchange.org] .

Using the Open Souce? (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#35048404)

It's nice that the source on these hosted applications is open - no sarcasm intended. But since they're hosted, the source is open "read only": as a user, if I change the source to do something different, I can't commit it to the source of the hosted app to change it. Only the hosts can. Unless some host is running instances of the server per hosting customer that can be revised, which I've never heard of.

And then who's going to be the newly featured server admin? That's the really expensive and hard part of having an Exchange server.

Re:Using the Open Souce? (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 3 years ago | (#35048868)

The common argument against open source is the requirement to have someone who knows how to run it (but this applies to anything), using a hosted service solves that at the expense of flexibility.
If you have staff on hand who are capable of modifying sourcecode than chances are you already have people capable of running the server, and so a hosted service isn't your best choice.

OSS is a no brainer for a decent hosting provider, it scales financially (no extra software costs as you get more customers), and you can modify it to integrate with your existing hosting environment (assuming you host other things too). If you are buying a hosted service chances are you don't have any intention to change the source.

Server Administrator? (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#35048406)

With these hosted servers, is the administrator they provide any good (skilled, responsive)? Does their customer service quickly resolve issues that can't be immediately processed by the GUI?

Custom App Development? (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#35048416)

Do any of these hosted Exchange replacements allow custom app development to the server's API? Or are they just another black box that just replaces Exchange with some other magic box?`

Re:Custom App Development? (1)

justsomebody (525308) | more than 3 years ago | (#35048966)

it would be hard to call them open if they didn't.

i for one know that i'm much more interested in Sogo than OX.

Exchange vs Zimbra (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#35048422)

If I switch my 50 user office from Exchange to Zimbra, what will I lose in functions? Will I be able to point Zimbra at a database whose schema I can edit and populate with other apps, whose objects I can CRUD from other apps, including ones I write?

Outlook + SIP Phones? (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#35048470)

Anyone offering hosted Exchange or an alternative "Outlook server" integrated with support for desktop VOIP phones (US48 unlimited minutes, or $0.02:min), at under $35 per month, that has 99.999% annual uptime and good customer service? With an API for integrating my custom apps to its features?

Huh? (2)

jav1231 (539129) | more than 3 years ago | (#35048596)

That's one way to get it gaining steam. Call it "cloud based." Because the "Internet" isn't cool anymore. It's got to be "the cloud!" Marketing...

Funambol... (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 3 years ago | (#35048834)

While it makes sense to have outlook support without requiring a plugin, they don't have native activesync support so you now need a plugin on many types of phone handsets... Last i checked, the funambol plugin was quite sucky...
And sure an iphone will sync using caldav/carddav/imap but it won't do push email and you can't remote wipe the device this way...

Citadel? (1)

starseeker (141897) | more than 3 years ago | (#35048870)

Every time groupware/Exchange related topics appear on Slashdot (often as not an "open" replacement solution that isn't quite open, or not quite there, or both), I see a couple of references to the Citadel project:

http://www.citadel.org/ [citadel.org]

This appears to be a very interesting offering, and I've never understood why it doesn't generate more buzz. Can anyone knowledgeable in this subject explain what is lacking in Citadel to make it a serious contender in this domain? It is compatibility with Outlook/Exchange, missing features, not scalable, or ...?

Not the only alternative (2)

kitserve (1607129) | more than 3 years ago | (#35048922)

This is an area I have been following with interest, as a number of clients have asked me about ditching their Exchange servers. There are several "open source" alternatives to Exchange, all with their own drawbacks. The main ones I know of are Scalix, Zimbra, Zarafa, OpenXchange, Citadel, and OpenChange/SOGo, although there are others.

OpenChange looks the most promising in the long term, as I believe it's the only one that promises 100% open source compatibility with Outlook. All the others require some kind of plugin, which generally isn't open source. However, as others have noted, OpenChange is nowhere near production ready.

So far I've been recommending Zarafa to clients, because it's the only one that includes an open source ActiveSync plugin for mobile synchronisation (it's called Z-push). Their support is also fairly good. I haven't tested the other alternatives extensively enough to see how they compare in practical terms though, it would be useful to see a simple objective comparison of them (certainly much more useful than fluff pieces like TFA).

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