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Exchange Alternatives Round-up

Hemos posted more than 9 years ago | from the good-news-for-the-it-set dept.

Linux Business 365

richi writes "eWEEK has a review of Linux-based alternatives to MS Exchange: Group Where? Almost Anywhere. Focusing on how well they integrate with Outlook, it looks at Bynari Insight 4.2, CommuniGate Pro 4.2, Gordano 11 and Scalix Server 9.2.1."

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Is this a FIRST POST? (-1, Offtopic)

big.iron.wiz (773525) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330222)

If not. Sorry.

My email doesn't run on immitations.

replying to a sig (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13330340)

If you think my written english is bad, try posting in portuguese!

Aprovação! Eu escrevi este no português com minha torneira! Minhas esferas estão em sua boca!

Re:replying to a sig (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13330361)

Os felicitações em sua abilidade encontrada nova de datilografar dentro portuguêses, nenhuma dúvida os peixes eram completamente úteis?

Re:replying to a sig (0, Offtopic)

big.iron.wiz (773525) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330524)

Congratulations.

This is ABSOLUTELY the worth Portuguese translations I ever read.

I will now mark you as my friend!

A real translations would go something along this line:
"As minhas felicitações pela sua nova habilidade de datilografar em português."

The rest, i did'nt get it.

They forgot about ExchangeIt (4, Insightful)

SailorFrag (231277) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330236)

ExchangeIt [nitix.com] is another option.

Disclaimer: I used to work there (but not on that product), and I still think that company is really cool.

Re:They forgot about ExchangeIt (1)

El Cubano (631386) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330336)

ExchangeIt is another option.

Disclaimer: I used to work there (but not on that product), and I still think that company is really cool.

No offense, but their marketing department needs to pull their heads out:

ExchangeIt! is the only groupware product on the market to simultaneously and transparently support the following clients: Microsoft® Outlook®, secure browser-based access over the Internet, and Ximian® Evolution(TM)*.

I highly doubt that in all the world, there is not another groupware solution that doesn't support at least those clients.

Other than that, it is at least worth a look from anyone serious about a non-Exchange solution

Re:They forgot about ExchangeIt (2, Informative)

Trigun (685027) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330445)

from their tech demo, they want to sell me everything. The software, the hardware, the OS, everything.

Sorry but no thanks.

Re:They forgot about ExchangeIt (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13330354)

Tell the sales dept that some people (like me) are turned off by the lack of pricing information. "Contact us for pricing" is really anoying, as I can't quickly and easilt compare price/features. It also usually indicates (IME) something that is way over priced. I usually won't even bother contacting them, as there are too may other places willing to tell me what it costs.

Re:They forgot about ExchangeIt (5, Funny)

Nimloth (704789) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330394)

Any perticular reason when I go to the website and open up the Flash demo to see how it works, it says "Best viewed in fullscreen" inside the non-resizable popup window?

Are they taunting me?

All too big - Hula is a better way to move (4, Informative)

bad_outlook (868902) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330248)

Personally I think these solutions only mimic the problems that Exchange had, why not go a different direction? My money is on Hula [hula-project.org] , the great open source project launched by Novell with 20,000 lines of code from their proven NetMail. New versions of NetMail will be built from Hula's codebase, so it will be used in large companies/implementations. It's come a LONG way since February, and I have it running on FreeBSD currently. If interested, hit the mailing list, and we'll help you out.

Re:All too big - Hula is a better way to move (1)

Malc (1751) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330808)

What are those problems?

Re:All too big - Hula is a better way to move (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13330810)

This is nice, but this is not the only web based groupware project. There is phpgroupware, horde and a few others. Unfortunately they all share the same inherent problem of being web based.

If you want to get off the MS crack (5, Informative)

El Cubano (631386) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330252)

It may be a good idea to check out OpenGroupware.org [opengroupware.org] . IIRC, it integrates with Outlook and they are also heavily working on OpenOffice.org and Mozilla integration. This is awesome if you want to transition your backend first. Once you get the back office off of Exchange, you can move the front office to OOo and Mozilla, followed by a switch out of the OS from Windows to Linux or BSD.

Active Directory integration? (4, Interesting)

charnov (183495) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330253)

Without full AD integration it's still kind of pointless. Not to mention the hundreds (thousands?) of programs that need Exchange. The closest I have worked with administratively is Domino and that was an admins nightmare. I run Exchange 2000 servers (again) and I tell ya, other than the dollar cost, these things are great.

Re:Active Directory integration? (5, Interesting)

Noaccess0 (888935) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330322)

That depends on your environment. There are still some companies who run 5.5 (I work at one) because the AD structure is so large and encumbered that duct taping a messaging environment to it would be really bad. Granted some of the new features of E2K3 SP1 are pretty nice (cross admin group movement, etc), it's still an ugly migration path for legacy clients. Let's face it, if your sites and subnets are not designed along MS whitepaper specs, you are going to have issues with routing in E2kX.

Re:Active Directory integration? (1, Flamebait)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330343)

I run Exchange 2000 servers (again) and I tell ya, other than the dollar cost, these things are great.

Really? Great you say?

Is that why my lousy 30 user network needed a dedicated server with a dedicated Windows 2003 license (cost almost as much as the hardware) for Exchange because it wouldn't be "good practice" to install Exchange on the AD box?

I could replace those two servers with a friggen 486 running Linux with Samba, IMAP and some sort of web based calendaring software. The total software cost on that solution would be zero and the only loss of functionality would be the integration of Outlook.

Fuck Exchange.

Re:Active Directory integration? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13330419)

A 486 running a mail server and fully integrated web-based calendaring? Get real. Th functionality of a non-integrated calendaring system is a far comparison to the ease of use of Exchange.

Maybe it's not the best solution for your 30 person company but for larger companies it's cheap and scales well.

Re:Active Directory integration? (2, Interesting)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330486)

A 486 running a mail server and fully integrated web-based calendaring?

Did I say fully integrated? I don't recall saying that.

My only point (besides venting steam caused by having to administrator Exchange) was that a simple little web-based program could replace all of the calendaring functionality of Exchange. If you got a little bit more fancy you could build it on an SQL backend (mySQL anyone?) and share the appointments/schedules within the entire company.

How does any company besides Microsoft turn a simple a e-mail server and scheduling software into several hundred megabytes of bloat that requires a dedicated machine for a lousy 30 user environment?

Re:Active Directory integration? (1)

jpickett (877858) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330785)

If your require a dedicated machine for 30 users, to me, that says more about your inability to effectively design and administer an Exchange environment rather than something about Exchange itself. Our environment is relatively small (about 200 users). It runs like a champ on a single server. I think we could easily scale to a few thousand users without breaking a sweat. If managing Exchange in such a simple environment as yours (or mine) is so frustrating, I'm sorry, but you're doing something wrong. The only time I have to touch Exchange is adding new users, removing users (which is actually just done on our DC), and on patch Tuesday. Exchange has a long way to go (particularly with ActiveSync and public folder syncronization), however it's really not a bad product and not nearly as incapable as you make it sound.

Re:Active Directory integration? (4, Interesting)

b0bby (201198) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330541)

Hmmm, for a 30 user network you could use SBS, which can ONLY have the Exchange server running as the AD master, so you shouldn't need different boxes. A few years back I went that route, we rely on shared calendars in Outlook heavily and when we were forced to move from MS Mail & POP I looked at all the options. At that time, SBS really was the only decent option, much as I wanted to use something Linux based. It's worked out well, though the 16gb limit is a pain. If you've only got 30 or so users you should check into it, though these days there are more/better options.

Re:Active Directory integration? (4, Informative)

ejdmoo (193585) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330566)

That's what MS Small Business Server 2003 is for.

AD, Exchange, SQL, etc on 1 box, supported.

Re:Active Directory integration? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13330376)

oh christ. AD is overrated.

as SUN how horrible their life is without AD... oh wait, they do very VERY well without AD as well as everyone else.

Active Directory is not worth the pain.

Re:Active Directory integration? (1, Interesting)

EvilTwinSkippy (112490) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330381)

Without full AD integration it's still kind of pointless.

It's called LDAP. And we were using it for years before Active Directory...

Oh wait, Active Directory uses LDAP too.

It's not the directory, it's what's in it (1)

charnov (183495) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330480)

You can use pre-existing LDAP directories with Exchange, too (so can any decent mail server), but it's all the integration of the Active Directory infrastructure that is the big deal. You CAN do that with LDAP, but I hope you have a very large staff of very talented programmers to do it and maintane it. AD is the basis for single sign-on, identity management, policy management, etc. I have yet to see anything else out side of products costing a heck of a lot more that can handle the scale that AD does...that's probably MS's biggest problem...scaleability.

Re:It's not the directory, it's what's in it (1, Troll)

EvilTwinSkippy (112490) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330577)

You CAN do that with LDAP, but I hope you have a very large staff of very talented programmers to do it and maintane it.

Does Apple Computer count?

Re:Active Directory integration? (2, Interesting)

fodder69 (701416) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330414)


Huh? What exactly do you mean by "Full" integration?

Besides the fact that the article states that " All the products support Active Directory", what part of AD do you need to support email?

AD can be accessed using LDAP so all the information is there, and CommuniGate for one, can be externally scripted to do anything you want. I set that sucker up to externally route emails to different office servers based on an AD attribute.

And yes, Exchange could do the same thing only a lot more expensively and if anything goes wrong, have fun troubleshooting.

Re:Active Directory integration? (1)

vg30e (779871) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330444)

I agree that AD integration is important, but as an administrator, I still think Exchange is not the easiest thing in the world to live with. Backups and Restores are still pretty labor intensive without 3d party tools, centralized managed archiving is not possible without expensive 3d party tools as well, which makes leagal compliance tough sometimes.

Re:Active Directory integration? (1)

Ucklak (755284) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330730)

Domino is a nightmare if you think of admining it as an Exchange Administrator. If you get out of that counter productive Microsoft mindset, it does become easy after a while like anything else.

I've done both and highly skilled from Exchange 5.0 and MsMail before that. Going to another mail store type is a cumbersome task and I thought Domino was the worst product ever. I forced myself to re-learn Domino from the ground up, -not as in Exchange does it this way, how does Domino do the same thing- and it became easy.

Notes configuration sucks but Exchange does too -especially after Office XP- from a user standpoint. Notes does synchronization alot better IMO.

Re:Active Directory integration? (1)

Kunta Kinte (323399) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330763)

Without full AD integration it's still kind of pointless.

Would you care to enlighten us on what "full AD integration" means? Active directory is just an LDAP server user to most applications. That's a trivial feature to implement.

Not to mention the hundreds (thousands?) of programs that need Exchange.

Can you give some examples of applications that most firms would actually need? Also note that many of those applications exist because Exchange is deficient in areas.

The closest I have worked with administratively is Domino and that was an admins nightmare.

Maybe you should have looked around a bit more?

So... (1, Interesting)

utopianfiat (774016) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330260)

What exactly does MS Exchange *do*? I have that issue with a lot of Microsoft products. "So, what exactly does Dr. Watson *do*?" "So, what exactly does MS Publisher *do*?" "So, what exactly does MS Access *do*?" (And I programmed for it!)

Re:So... (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330327)

Actually, I would like to know what MS Exchange *does* besides integrate with a calendar across a domain. Besides the Calendar functionality, what do you find are important features of MS Exchange? How are these features not met by other options on the market?

Re:So... (5, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330422)

From MS website:

Exchange Server, the Microsoft messaging and collaboration server, is software that runs on servers that enables you to send and receive electronic mail and other forms of interactive communication through computer networks. Designed to interoperate with a software client application such as Microsoft Outlook, Exchange Server also interoperates with Outlook Express and other e-mail client applications.

From wikipedia:

Microsoft now appears to be positioning a combination of Microsoft Office, Live Meeting and Sharepoint as its collaboration software of choice. Exchange is now to be simply email and calendaring.

MS prefers its clients to have to license separate software for these tasks, this allows both greater specialization and multiple revenue streams.

Re:So... (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330470)

Yes, but that doesn't answer the question. How does Exchange better serve the needs of companies than competing products? Is the integrated calendar the only "killer feature", or is there far more functionality that users would miss if they converted?

Re:So... (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330592)

The point I am making is that MS is positioning Exchange to be solely for email and calendaring.

Most other features (including collaboration, perhaps the most useful in the modern office) are being migrated or developed for other MS apps.

The only reason I can see to prefer Exchange over competitors would be increased interoperability with other MS products.

Re:So... (2, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330663)

Gotcha. So the answer is, "[Companies] use it because it's Microsoft(TM)." :-)

Re:So... (1)

ckaminski (82854) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330736)

For 99% of the users out there, Exchange is simply an integrated calendar. Fairly useless, highly expensive and simply overkill.

For the other 1% who leverage Outlook's VBA capabilities, it's actually a fairly power collaboration platform where I can build applications and work with my coworkers or other audiences to manage my tasks. I've built customer support systems, CRM tools and countless other custom one-off applications on the Outlook/Exchange platform.

And Exchange 2000 has brought even greater flexibility with the Exchange event model that lets me add server-side logic into the mix.

It's no better than web based apps, for sure. But for people standardizing their business around Outlook, it's no worse.

Re:So... (1)

utopianfiat (774016) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330574)

Translation:
Exchange server, the Microsoft email server, is an email server. It is designed to work with email clients such as our email client; It also works with our other email client and other people's email clients!

Replaces the meeting room (4, Interesting)

charnov (183495) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330404)

If you don't have a decent amount of corporate experience, a lot of what Exchange is for may seem alien or useless, but I would have to say along with our document management system it is the core of IT infrastructure for where I work (a multibillion dollar, multinational financial services company). Simply, Exchange provides for email service in all its forms (pop, mapi, imap), news server, webmail backend/front end (along with IIS), public folders, collaborative contacts, mails, document checking, etc., global contacts, shared calendering, shared tasks, etc.

What makes it so special is that it is tightly integrated with MS Office (stuff like round robin document collaboration needs Exchange to work well...it's nifty) and Active Directory integration for management, contacts, policies, etc.

There are a lot of things to get on Microsoft about, but Exchange (at least from version 2000 on) is mostly a thing of beauty. I wish my users only needed straight email, but they need to be able to things like schedule a meeting on the fly from their cell which notifys all the attending, their secretaries, etc. wo can all weigh in and do conflict resolution and get a meeting time set all while the principle in the field is talking to a client in seconds. I haven't mentioned how it all plugs into our document management system and the archiving necessary for NASD, SEC, and IRS compliance that I haven't seen from any other vendor.

If all you need is mail, you'd be insane to go the Exchange route, but if you are already building a Windows infrastructure, you'd be just as insane NOT to have Exchange.

Re:Replaces the meeting room (3, Interesting)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330537)

"...along with our document management system it is the core of IT infrastructure for where I work (a multibillion dollar, multinational financial services company). Simply, Exchange provides for email service in all its forms (pop, mapi, imap), news server, webmail backend/front end (along with IIS), public folders, collaborative contacts, mails, document checking, etc., global contacts, shared calendering, shared tasks, etc."

From Wikipedia:
"Microsoft now appears to be positioning a combination of Microsoft Office, Live Meeting and Sharepoint as its collaboration software of choice. Exchange is now to be simply email and calendaring."

I hope you're forecasting the increase in licensing costs for all the functionality you are currently experiencing under Exchange Server.

Re:Replaces the meeting room (1)

utopianfiat (774016) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330682)

I guess you could contend that all those features in one brown package is convenient for the IT people, but it's not exactly a thing of innovation, either. I mean, almost anything I read here can be done on a linux system without too much pain and torture. I mean sure, on a WINDOWS infrastructure, at least for your server, you'd be fucking screwed (cursing for emphasis) using anything BUT Exchange, I'm sure. But cutting costs by eliminating that licensed software seems quite profitable in mine eyes.
I mean, I have WAP on my cellphone, SMS, email, whatever; not too difficult to email a list of people about a meeting. Now, calendaring and conflict resolution over cellphone- I'm not exactly sure what this is about, perhaps you can reply and explain. I actually posted the parent because I really *didn't* understand what it did beyond email and calendaring. :)

Re:Replaces the meeting room (4, Funny)

Bobzibub (20561) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330781)

Of course where I work [company shalt not be named] exchange has been down all morning....

Re:Replaces the meeting room (1, Interesting)

George Beech (870844) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330792)

If you don't have a decent amount of corporate experience, a lot of what Exchange is for may seem alien or useless
That's stupid just because you don't experience in a big enviroment doesn't mean you don't understand what the product does. But Exchange is WAAAAY overpriced for what it does.
[...]IT infrastructure for where I work (a multibillion dollar, multinational financial services company)
Why do you feel the need to say something like this either come out and say the company or just say "a big company" you just make yourself sound like an arrogent ass when you agrandize the company like that without saying what the company is. Not there is any way anyone can verify the claim either... sorry off track just a pet peeve of mine.
Simply, Exchange provides for email service in all its forms (pop, mapi, imap), news server, webmail backend/front end (along with IIS), public folders, collaborative contacts, mails, document checking, etc., global contacts, shared calendering, shared tasks, etc.
And your point is? any good Groupware program does any and all of these things. and some do it better and have been doing it longer i.e. GroupWise. Basically what you are saying here is that it is an MTA with some calendaring features built in. And how does Exchange check documents? are you sure you're not talking about sharepoint or Office?
I wish my users only needed straight email, but they need to be able to things like schedule a meeting on the fly from their cell which notifys all the attending, their secretaries, etc. wo can all weigh in and do conflict resolution and get a meeting time set all while the principle in the field is talking to a client in seconds. I bet you can get any of the major ... err commercial groupware products to do this.
I haven't mentioned how it all plugs into our document management system and the archiving necessary for NASD, SEC, and IRS compliance that I haven't seen from any other vendor. The point here is that you need Seperate Document management and Archiving solutions ... why not go with a product that has the proven ability to work well. But if your blinded by the MS only system well there is no sense in even aurguing about it.
[...]but if you are already building a Windows infrastructure
your already insane

Is Outlook really the killer app? (2, Interesting)

Noaccess0 (888935) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330262)

I'm still surprised that no-one has come out with a more popular groupware client than Outlook. This is an area that is starving for new innovation. The features built into exchange really haven't changed much in the last ten years - why can't someone make something better?

Re:Is Outlook really the killer app? (1)

generic-man (33649) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330631)

Evolution is the best groupware client I've used in Linux, but its interface (especially in version 1) is a clear derivative from Outlook.*

Mozilla's working on Sunbird and they could potentially do something nice with Thunderbird+Sunbird, but everything's proceeding at a Mozilla-like pace so far. Version 0.2, the last I tried, was all function and no form.

* BZZT OBSCURE PROGRAM I LIKED 20 YEARS AGO HAD SOMETHING THAT OUTLOOK STOLE WHY WON'T ANYONE GIVE PROPS TO MY FAVORITE OLD PROGRAM WRONG!

Re:Is Outlook really the killer app? (3, Insightful)

ckaminski (82854) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330783)

Every office I've been in could replace Word, Excel and Access with any other 3rd party application, Lotus, Corel, Borland, etc.

Name me one Windows based groupware app that you could replace Outlook with. Evolution doesn't count since it doesn't run on Windows, and is a BLATANT copy of Outlook.

IBM fails once again (2, Interesting)

dsginter (104154) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330274)

You'd think that with IBM being the biggest OSS cheerleader that they'd port Lotus Notes. One might think that their support is just a big ad campaign.

Re:IBM fails once again (1)

utopianfiat (774016) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330301)

Again, what exactly does Lotus Notes or MS Exchange *do*?

Re:IBM fails once again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13330395)

Quite a lot. E-mail handling, scheduling/calendar support, a whole lot of features. You could have just looked it up on Google of course, but being that you're a troll I suppose you were looking for a response. Glad I could help.

Re:IBM fails once again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13330366)

They have. Take a look at the upcoming release announcements and you'll see that the Notes plug-in for IBM's Workplace Managed Client provides full Notes client access on Linux.

Re:IBM fails once again (1)

Itchy Rich (818896) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330428)

...port Lotus Notes.

Why is this not modded funny?

Lotus on Linux (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13330464)

Let's compare apples to apples here... TFA is referring to the *SERVER* side of things, not the client. Lotus Notes is the *client* and yes, it is pretty much Windows-only but so is MS Outlook.

Lotus *Domino* is the server (analogous to MS Exchange Server), and it's already been ported to Linux for years, in fact Lotus Domino on Linux is one of the best performing and robust Domino platforms you can have, especially on SuSE Linux. IBM doesn't give either the Lotus server or client away for free however, in fact they're quite pricey, but so are MS Exchange server and MS Outlook client. Lotus requires a substantial investment in training, and has a very steep learning curve for administration, plus all your users will hate Lotus because it's not MS Outlook which they're already addicted to using.

All three of these substitute MS Exchange Server wannabes are also somewhat costly too, and that relatively small price difference between the substitute and the real MS thing, I guarantee you will not justify all the hassles of not having the genuine MS Exchange Server in place. MS's integration with Active Directory, powerful admin tools, the worldwide support for antivirus/antispam softwares and a myriad of other 3rd party stuff available for MS Exchange Servers will make any of these substitutes a complete waste of time and money. If you want a free mail server, just make it out of the usual open source stuff on a *nix box and live with it's limitations, or else pony up the cash and buy the real McCoy.

Re:Lotus on Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13330562)

In my opinion the Domino Express licenses aren't that pricey at all (you just pay the CALs and get Domino 'for free' with that), but they're only available as long as you have less than 1000 users.

Re:IBM fails once again (2, Informative)

wiggles (30088) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330693)

My college Senior Project was a Linux-based Domino server implementation. Worked great for me.

Click here [ibm.com] to download a trial of Lotus Domino for Linux. Click here [ibm.com] for a Notes client for Windows (works on Wine) and Mac.

Re:IBM fails once again (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13330724)

If you haven't looked on how the kernel comes along...
Look at the number of people taking part of the kernel development and then decide if they stand behind the OSS Community.
You can find it in MAINTAINERS file in the kernel sources. Search for ibm and you'll see all those with registered e-mail addresses with ibm.com

Not to say that their Power+ server lines are living on Linux atm either.

Where exactly is that "ad campaign" you see?

None of them are solutions (4, Insightful)

DogDude (805747) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330290)

How can any of these be considered a viablealternative if "None of the products provides full Outlook-to-Exchange feature fidelity in Outlook"?

My *real* alternative to an expensive Exchange server in house is: hosted Exchange [hp.com] . It's *much* cheaper for small businesses, and there's no need to sacrifice any functionality.

Re:None of them are solutions (3, Insightful)

EvilTwinSkippy (112490) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330439)

Our organization has been running for several years with a web-based calendar and contact list system. One thing we have going for us is that nobody in upper management has ever worked with Outlook, and the few that have not been able to name a capability in Outlook that doesn't work with our system. (They complain because they have to do it in a browser instead of having it all come up through the Email client.)

We migrated the stafflist to LDAP, so the argument about the staff list not showing up when composing emails has been vanquished as well.

I think what people need to realize is that contact and scheduling systems are an amalgam of several networking protocols. With a pretty front end. I keep forgetting the pretty front end. In any case, and fool with enough time on his hands and a DB backend could build his own.

Re:None of them are solutions (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330514)

I think what people need to realize is that contact and scheduling systems are an amalgam of several networking protocols. With a pretty front end. I keep forgetting the pretty front end.

You're right. But the end user doesn't care if it's a mish-mash of protocols, or an army of hamsters running it. As long as it works the way they want it to work is all that matters. And the front end is what users see and actually interface with. I don't care if the server has full artifical intelligence and can predict what you will want 5 minutes before you want it... without a good user interface that people want to use, it's all pretty pointless. I personally like the functionality of Outlook quite a bit, but it's also nice having the web interface for when you're out of the office.

Re:None of them are solutions (1)

justforaday (560408) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330795)

(They complain because they have to do it in a browser instead of having it all come up through the Email client.)

Stick an extra copy of firefox on their machine, give it a nice calendary icon, set the homepage to the calendar page, disable all the menubars, change the executable name, change the titlebar with firesomething, and tell everyone it's their new calendaring app. Sure, it's still separate from their email client, but I bet most people wouldn't be able to tell that it's running in a browser...

Re:None of them are solutions (1)

fodder69 (701416) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330461)


Basically the feature that they don't support is Outlook Forms. Have you used those lately? Puts you in a very small minority if you said yes.

Re: Hosted Exchange (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13330477)

1-and-1 does hosted Exchange service for slightly less money: $7/mo and they offer a far more sane 1GB of storage. http://www.1and1.com/ [1and1.com]

HP's service offers a tiny 100MB for double the money.

-sid

Re:None of them are solutions (1)

fastduke (694682) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330481)

Because most people run Exchange for the group calendar.

Re:None of them are solutions (2, Insightful)

Kunta Kinte (323399) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330563)

How can any of these be considered a viablealternative if "None of the products provides full Outlook-to-Exchange feature fidelity in Outlook"?

I think its funny that you do not know what features the alternatives lack, but you see those features as manatory for a viable alternative .

Microsoft takes, the communication protocol of the day and dumps it in Exchange, and writes the client side support into Outlook.

IM, VOIP, CRM, ERP, you-name-it, MS as Exchange/Outlook support for it.

The vast majority of small firms won't need those features. Many just what to send/recieve email and share calendars internally.

Re:None of them are solutions (2, Insightful)

bogie (31020) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330689)

I'm sorry but that's just a retarded thing to say. Or more precisely that's an unrealistic look at how people compare products. You see that's not the way the world works. You see what your firm ACTUALLY needs and then buy based on that. You don't say well since it doesn't have EVERY SINGLE feature the other product has its not viable. You say, well we need X features and can spend X amount. If a competing product has the features you use that it IS a viable alternative.

Re:None of them are solutions (1)

swb (14022) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330829)

Hosted Exchange suffers from the problem of attachments. One of their few virtues is that attachments are sent non-interactively; you don't waste time downloading them.

If your Exchange setup is hosted, you end up having to pull everything from the WAN, which is tedious for larger attachments unless you have 3Mbit or larger pipe and your hosting provider is topologically close to your ISP.

If you never use them, it's probably a pretty good deal and a lot less headache than in-house Exchange.

MAPI? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13330292)

Do any of these substitute email servers support MS's proprietary MAPI protocol as a fully-implemented workalike? Of course not! Well then, they will never substitute for a real MS Exchange server. MS has seen to that, in that using Outlook as a POP/IMAP client is only a half-assed solution. You might as well just save your money and deploy Thunderbird for free and run it against a free Linux IMAP/POP open source server.

Re:MAPI? (3, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330400)

Do any of these substitute email servers support MS's proprietary MAPI protocol as a fully-implemented workalike?

RTFA:
None of the products provides full Outlook-to-Exchange feature fidelity in Outlook, but they all hit the basics of group calendar and scheduling, shared folders, and e-mail. The feature that companies are likely to miss most when using the servers we tested with Outlook is forms.
Administrators also have the additional overhead of deploying a MAPI (Messaging API) connector to each client. With the exception of Bynari, all the vendors support remote packaged distribution of their connectors. With the Bynari offering, administrators will need to perform a few additional tasks to ensure that the connector installs with user- specific settings.

The problem with MAPI has been less an issue of reverse engineering a protocol, and more an issue of trying to replicate the DCOM interface. Microsoft piled on the technology stacks in making MAPI, thus confounding attempts to create a compatible connector. It was only a year or two ago that Ximian finally figured it out.

Re:MAPI? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13330442)

Er, no.

Ximian goes in through the Microsoft approved back door known as OWA. Microsoft could give a rat's ass about you using OWA because you've already bought Exchange (and Win2k/Win2k3 Server) and a CAL for whatever client you're using, whether it's Outlook or Evolution.

Re:MAPI? (3, Informative)

Kunta Kinte (323399) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330516)

It was only a year or two ago that Ximian finally figured it out.

Ximian hasn't figured out the MAPI, they use WebDAV as their line protocol, I suspect. Could be wrong. Exchange supports WebDAV access.

Trying to reverse MAPI line protocol is insane. What you want to do is write a client-side connector, like all the vendors in the article. I'm working on one at openconnector.org [openconnector.org]

MAPI, btw, is a semi-documented standard. There are at least two books on it. But still, MS keeps tweaking it and doesn't release the changes, so we have to go back and reverse engineer those changes. In all its just a lot of coding, rather and reverse engineering.

Re:MAPI? (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330629)

Hmm... I didn't realize that MAPI was not actually reversed by Ximian. Points off them for taking the easy way out. :-/

Question: Is Brutus [omesc.com] a full MAPI implementation? OMESC claims it is, but I'm not certain if they're referring to the API or Protocol. (My feeling is that they mean the API.)

Re:MAPI? (2, Informative)

n0-0p (325773) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330519)

Evolution uses the Outlook Web Access over WebDAV interface. This is far simpler than trying to create a compatible MAPI stack because (as you pointed out) there are a number of complex layered protocols required. To my knowledge, only MS has ever made a complete MAPI stack. Everything else uses either MAPI client connectors on Windows or OWA WebDAV to talk to the server from a non-Windows client.

Re:MAPI? (1)

fodder69 (701416) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330498)


Yes, they do. I know it's pointless to say RTFA to Slashdot readers (and it doesn't go into a lot of detail), but the CommuniGate piece at least is an Outlook plugin that gives MAPI functionality on the client side and uses IMAP/ssl on the other side to connect to the server. So Outlook behaves like you would expect a MAPI client to.

The rest of your comment would make sense if you didn't start out being so willfully clueless.

GroupWise? (5, Informative)

j-tull (201124) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330403)

I'm surprised that the article neglected to mention Novel's GroupWise [novell.com] . Most of your leading anti-Microsoft shops tend to be very pro Novel, and GroupWise is still very much alive and kicking (with version 7 just released [novell.com] yesterday). It supports e-mail, instant messaging, appointments, Microsoft Outlook, and it even comes with a license of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server [novell.com] .

Re:GroupWise? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13330770)

We used to run GroupWise5 in the office. Personally, I like the front-end better than Outlook since the GUI is a lot cleaner. IMNHO Outlook has the common failing of too many options being on-screen at once.

What about webbased products (1)

jurt1235 (834677) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330405)

Tools like eGroupware/phpgroupware deliver the standard suite, and are synchronizable with outlook (never seen it work, I do not have MS windows nor the time to see if it is true), which is actually not needed anymore than either. No distribution of software needed at all, and if wanted globally available.

Exchange is rarely the right solution (3, Insightful)

realmolo (574068) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330411)

I do a lot of networking/computer repair for a lot of businesses, and many of them use Exchange. But you know what they use it FOR? E-mail. Nothing else. Yeah, they at one time may have used the calendar/scheduling features, but they eventually realized that secretaries could do a better job doing the "old" way.

It's not that Exchange is bad (though any program that has an entire cottage industry dedicated to backing it up can't be great), it's that it does TOO MUCH. Very few companies have any chance of getting all their employees to actually use all the features of Exchange. And, really, it might not be worth their time to train them on it in the first place. MOST businesses just need good email. All the *collaborative* features simply require too much of a change in the way people think about their job to really get used.

For the vast majority of small-to-medium-sized businesses, they'd be better served with a good Postfix/Courier-IMAP/SquirrelMail setup, with greylisting and SpamAssassin and anti-virus scanning. All of which is free. And MUCH more stable than any Exchange setup I've ever seen.

The only thing that Exchange has over everything else is that it can use domain usernames/passwords. Big fucking deal.

Re:Exchange is rarely the right solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13330530)

With some of the monkeys in IT these days it's not suprising to see Exchange setup wrong. Honestly it's not too hard but like all the other alternatives they require some tweaking.

With 4 years of experience Exchange is cake. I can easily have a fully functional server installed, nat'd, and ready to receive mail in about 1.5 hours. That includes an AV install and competent spam idenfication.

Problems you say? Sure if you continually install 3rd party software that interacts with exchange you'll have issues. Many products out there say they are compatible with Exchange 2000/2003 but they end up destroying your information store. Of course Microsoft gets blamed rather than the company who wrote the shitty software...

6 exchange servers across 4 countries and still cruising along. Just be sure to use sendmail or some other alternative on your front end. :)

Re:Exchange is rarely the right solution (1)

realmolo (574068) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330640)

Oh, I'm not saying it CAN'T work, I'm saying that almost no business actually needs full-on Exchange. Plus, I still think it's clunky. I like MS software, for the most part, but Exchange is a beast. An expensive beast, too.

Re:Exchange is rarely the right solution (1)

Ozric (30691) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330543)

Yep .. I second that ... Very Very few small installs know how to use Exchange. Most just use it for email and personal Cals. Another sad fact is that most end-users will attach files in email insted of using a/the file server to share files and things.

"The only thing that Exchange has over everything else is that it can use domain usernames/passwords. Big fucking deal."

Yes you can do this with a SAMBA PDC, OpenLdap and an IMAP server.

Price differential (1)

Mr_Silver (213637) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330437)

Are they really alternatives when it comes to price? From the article:

With the exception of Scalix Server, all the products have prices lower than those of most enterprise groupware applications, with per-user costs in the range of $20 to $47. Exchange 2003, in contrast, has a per-user license cost of $67, while Scalix Server's price approaches $60 per user.

Surely if you're a big enough corporation to pony up the money for Outlook and want Exchange then the saving of $20-$47 per head is peanuts and it would make more sense to just go with the official Microsoft solution and get 100% compatibility?

I've never put such a business case together for that sort of thing, but I think i would have difficult justifying a partially working non-Microsoft solution to over a fully working Microsoft solution for a mere $7 less per head (which is the Scalix pricing).

Peanuts? (1)

brokeninside (34168) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330479)

Saving 300K for every 10k users is not peanuts. My previous employer would have saved well over 1M. Granted, that would be a relatively small portion of total costs, but it may very well make the difference between posting a loss and posting a gain on the balance sheet in a tough fiscal year.

Re:Price differential (1)

fodder69 (701416) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330586)


Yeah, but having the same features (plus better stability) for less than 1/3 the cost ($20 vs. $47)?

If you can't make a business case for that, ...

And talk about partially working, if you want to do anything with Exchange (like back it up), you will be paying more for 3rd party tools to do the things MS should have provided.

And people buy MS Office which means that Outlook is essentially free.

I don't totally disagree with your point, and Exchange is a good fit for a lot of organizations, but your arguments are pretty silly.

Re:Price differential (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330643)

And people buy MS Office which means that Outlook is essentially free.

Even without Office, Outlook is "essentially free" - every Exchange CAL includes an Outlook license.

Re:Price differential (1)

Mr_Silver (213637) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330796)

Yeah, but having the same features (plus better stability) for less than 1/3 the cost ($20 vs. $47)?

Except that none of them have the same features. From the article "None of the products provides full Outlook-to-Exchange feature fidelity in Outlook".

So yes, you would be saving money but at the expense of functionality and thats ignoring the inclusion of Outlook licences in the Exchange CAL which you wouldn't get if you went with an alternative solution.

No mention of Ipswitch? (3, Interesting)

Atticka (175794) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330450)

Their Collaboration Suit offers Calandering with Outlook, not sure how well it works though.

check this out:
http://www.ipswitch.com/products/collaboration/ind ex.asp [ipswitch.com]

From their site
Save time with shared calendars and contacts

For many teams, working together productively depends on the ability to easily schedule meetings and share calendars, contacts, and other information. ICS includes powerful collaboration tools that allow Microsoft Outlook users to share their own up-to-date contact lists, calendars, task lists and Outlook notes securely within your organization. You can - with permission - view and edit your colleagues' calendars and contact lists.


Anyone have experiance with Ipswitch?
(I dont work for Ipswitch)

IBM Lotus Domino (1)

HavocBMX (760265) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330489)

It always astonishes me that companies forget about the most obvious alternative to exchange which is Lotus Domino. It's been around for many years and has one of the most stable environments for operation and collaboration out there.

For exchange integration Domino has the exchange connector which allows seamless integration with outlook clients.

Re:IBM Lotus Domino (1)

mcn (112855) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330738)

Agree. And if you turn on LDAP on Domino directory, and use LDAP for lookups, etc, by other applications, it's not all that bad compared to Active Directory. And no matter what other people say, I believe Domino is still king of collaboration/workflow. Exchange cannot even compare a tiny bit.

And whenever people say Lotus interface sucks compared to outlook, I think they never really used R5 or ND6 before. I miss Lotus Notes and my tabs in R5 badly, now that my new workplace is using Outlook/Exchange.

What about the clients?? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13330496)

I have the reverse problem -- I'm forced to connect to an Exchange server and the only client that I've been able to find that sort of works is Evolution. I tried to convince them to turn the Exchange IMAP service on, but was told that "IMAP would violate their goal of putting Outlook on the desktop". Yes, I work for a government institution.

So what would make me really happy is if there was an alternative to Evolution, which I think is even more odious than Outlook. At least Outlook works most of the time instead of just some of the time, and yes, even *crashes* less than Evolution!

The reverse? (2, Insightful)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330529)

I have absolutely no idea why anyone would use Outlook unless their company runs Exchange, it's a completely useless atrocity in my opinion.

As such, what works for the reverse - people who don't (or can't) run Outlook in a company that runs Exchange?

Here's my situation: We run Exchange Server 5.5, *without* IMAP support. Believe me, I've begged for it, it's not happening.

I've tried Ximian/Novell's Exchange Connector, but it only works for Exchange 2000/2003. Our server is too old, and they don't plan to upgrade yet.

Anyone know of anything else that'll work? Right now I'm going in through the Java-riffic Outlook Web Access. I'd almost rather eat glass.

Re:The reverse? (1)

smartin (942) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330838)

I have absolutely no idea why anyone would use Outlook unless their company runs Exchange, it's a completely useless atrocity in my opinion.

I absolutely agree with you. What the world needs is an open source solution to talking with Exchange for those of us forced to use it. One possiblity may be brutus [omesc.com] though it does not appear to be usable yet.

How about alternatives to Outlook? (4, Interesting)

helicologic (845077) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330533)

I'd be more interested in a discussion of alternatives to Outlook. At my company I have no control over the use of the Exchange server, but I can use whatever I want on my desktop. I use Evolution, but frankly it's pretty sucky and gets worse with each release. Anybody out there in my boat, stuck trying to talk to the corporate Exchange server from a Linux desktop? What do you use?

Re:How about alternatives to Outlook? (3, Interesting)

HrothgarReborn (740385) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330764)

Switch to a Mac and use Microsoft Entourage. Its a great client. Like Evolution it ties through OWA because even Microsoft cannot figure out how to make anything work with that damn MAPI protocol. But unlike Evolution is has great features and is far better than Outlook. Only drawback is a bit of delay in message delivery (just like Evolution) as opposed to the instant alert Outlook gives through MAPI. If you are a laptop user like I was then it does so much better than Outlook which seems to crash everytime it leaves the network, can never pull up messages and never figure out when you are plugged back in. Entourage keeps you mail local and sincs with Exchange like an email client should, so it handles all this gracefully. You can get it as part of Office 2004.

Funny how the best software MS writes is for Mac :)

Some info about those alternatives... (2, Informative)

strredwolf (532) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330620)

A client of mine had wanted to switch away from Exchange, and try a few of these out. Out of the ones mentioned:

Bynari Insight: We've tried working with the software, but testing resulted in much frustration in trying to set it up properly. I'll give kudos for the Bynari folk for helping out... but it looks like there's a long way to go. Maybe they need to upgrade their config to reflect Postfix changes...

CommunigatePro: Everyone favorite, because it's so eaaaaaaazzzzzzzzyyyyy. This one all I needed to do was manual tweak a few things and it's running perfectly. Expensive, but worth it.

Scalix: We're testing this one out now. It requires ether RedHat, Fedora, SuSE, or an RPM based system that you can fake out to be ether one of the three -- it ships as an RPM-based installer. It also runs on Java, but it comes with Tomcat, configures itself and Apache, and it works! The community edition is out and free, with some limitations, and there's no native mail fetching (but we can use Fetchmail).

We haven't tried Gordano, but we have tried exchange4linux (e4l) and that was a mess to set up.

Communigate Pro (1, Insightful)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330655)

I ran an earlier version Communigate Pro at a previous job. Simply put, it is the only closed-source software package I actively recommend. Its just that good.

The web mail is slick. IMAP works beautifully. The API for customer-added functionality is extensive. The system is rock solid reliable, and FAST FAST FAST.

If you have too many accounts, they support clustering on multiple servers. Here's a quote from their manual:

When your site serves more than 150,000-200,000 accounts, or when you expect really heavy IMAP/WebMail/MAPI traffic, you should consider using a Cluster configuration.

Huh. So if you have less than 150,000 accounts you can do it with just one server. I'd like to see an open source mail package that can live up to that particular boast.

Re:Communigate Pro (1)

pmsr (560617) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330774)

Yes, a pity about their MAPI connector for Outlook. The words slow and inefficient come to mind. Just follow their mailing list and see what i am talking about. I almost cried after installing it. It is really a pity, since the rest of the product is so perfect. It stands out as a big wine stain in a white cloth.

/Pedro

NOVELL GROUPWISE is forgotten?! Suse, people! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13330721)


How the hell can you forget Novell Groupwise?

Full Linux solution with eDirectory (formally NDS) solution for Linux and Windows clients. Integration with Evolution AND Outlook.

Seems a funny oversite to me.

I mean that this isn't like the 2nd most popular commercial Linux distro of all time or anything like that...

Kerio Mailserver 6.1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13330791)

We have been using Kerio (kerio.com) Mailserver v6.0 and recently upgraded to v6.1 - it has outlook/exchange plugins and we've had minimal complaints. Pretty solid product, although I can't really comment on the others mentioned here since I've never used them. A mail server that runs on tomcat/java sounds like a bad idea, but that's just me... tomcat sure has improved lately with the 5.x releases, so im sure runaway java processes aren't such a big deal anymore...

Oracle Collaboration Suite (3, Interesting)

ataX (625437) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330801)

I don't know why always when there is a discussion about "enterprise messaging systems" OCS is never mentioned. OCS is a US$60/usr messaging system that has Email, Calendar, a WebDAV/NFS/SMB/FTP File Server (Oracle Files), Webconference, UltraSearch (Lets you search inside documents in your Oracle Files installation, in your email, in the intranet or internet etc), it also has Wireless access (via Voice/PDA/Phone/etc), and in the new version it will have Instant messaging, all inside an Oracle Database. and you don't have to pay for the database, you just pay per user and all the Oracle stack is included.

Groupware never got anybody laid... (4, Interesting)

defile (1059) | more than 9 years ago | (#13330815)

Groupware Bad [jwz.org]
And I said, "Jesus Mother of Fuck, what are you thinking! Do not strap the 'Groupware' albatross around your neck! That's what killed Netscape, are you insane?" He looked at me like I'd just kicked his puppy.

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