I spent a few hours today researching Exchange replacements. These are products that are designed to replace Microsoft Exchange on the server, but still allow use of Outlook as a client, including the much-beloved calendaring features.
Here's what I came up with.
Date: Tue, 16 Nov 2004 16:24:55 -0800 From: "Christian G. Warden" <email@example.com> Subject: Exchange replacement analysis - phase 1 There are a handful of products that claim to be Exchange replacements. They all work in the same manner, using a custom MAPI connector, which is basically a plug-in for Outlook, to access the server. Each version of Outlook has different features so most of these products only work with certain versions of Outlook. Because I'm not very familiar with Outlook, it is difficult for me to tell if these products fully support the features of Outlook. We'll need to setup a test environment to fully evaluate any of these products. OpenGroupware This was previously a closed source server that was open sourced a couple years ago. I evaluated it briefly a year or so ago, and it seemed stable and featureful, but had a bit of a clunky web interface. It looks like development is pretty active, though. I haven't evaluated the Outlook connector, ZideLook, which is a commercial product which costs about $50 per client. There is no demo of ZideLook available. ZideLook communicates with OpenGroupware using WebDAV. OpenGroupware just handles the groupware functionality and integrates with third-party IMAP servers. 1. http://www.opengroupware.org/en/index.html 2. http://esd.element5.com/product.html?cart=1&productid=517934&languageid=1&nolselection=1¤cies=EUR SUSE LINUX Openexchange Server This is a commercial product. It is distributed a full linux distribution and cannot be installed on an existing Linux system. (Such an installation would not be supported at least.) Pricing is unclear. The product is supposed to be available for purchase online at novell.com, but isn't, perhaps because they are currently integrating the product with Novell's Groupwise. There is an online demo and the Outlook connector is available for download. Openexchange is made up of a number of open source components and comFire, the groupware component, which was licensed from a company called Netline. comFire has recently been open sourced by Netline as Open-Xchange, but the Outlook connector is not licensed for use with Open-Xchange. The Outlook connector communicates with the server using WebDAV. There is a good article about Openexchange. 3. http://www.suse.com/us/business/products/openexchange/index.html 4. http://www.suse.com/us/business/products/openexchange/demo.html 5. http://www.suse.com/us/business/products/openexchange/download.html 6. http://mirror.open-xchange.org/ox/EN/product/ 7. http://www.linux-magazine.com/issue/48/Suse_Linux_Openexchange_41.pdf Bynari Insight Server and Insight Connector I believe Bynari was the first company with an "Exchange replacement on Linux" product. Their Outlook connector allows calendars and address books on an IMAP server. It claims to require the Insight Server, though Insight Server uses Cyrus as the IMAP server, so it may work with a normal Cyrus server. Insight Server is composed of a number of open source products such as Postfix, OpenLDAP, and Apache. Bynari seems to think most of the value is in the Connector since a 1000 user license for Insight Connector is $17,000, and a 1000 user license for a bundled Insight Server and Insight Connector is $18,000. (Insight Server without the Connector is also sold for $1,000.) A demo is available. 8. http://www.bynari.net/index.php?id=1169 9. http://www.bynari.net/index.php?id=7 BILL Workgroup Server/Exchange4Linux Documentation is kind of spotty on this one. I don't think it's worth evaluating except as a last resort. 10. http://www.billworkgroup.org/billworkgroup/home 11. http://www.exchange4linux.com/exchange4linux/Home None of the Above (IMAP/LDAP/SMTP/WebDAV or FTP) Depending on the customer's needs, perhaps Outlook in "Internet Mail Mode" will be sufficient. IMAP supports shared folders, but I don't know if it supports setting ACLs. Outlook also supports LDAP for address books, but I don't know if supports updating the directory. Outlook can send meeting requests and responses over email and publish free/busy time over FTP (and, I think, either WebDAV or HTTP PUT), but I don't know if this would meet the customer's needs. I recommend trying out Openexchange first as it seems to be the most open and widely deployed. Christian
Comments from anyone who has deployed one of these products for use with Outlook would be appreciated.
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