The growth of Cloud computing could mean the end of Microsoft Exchange and client-based computing. This article offers some Open Source alternatives for you to choose from.
Microsoft Exchange’s market share is being reduced by the influx of browser-based solutions like Zimbra, Zarafa and Google Apps. So will this lead to its death? LinuxIT’s Mike Curtis, Executive Director – Service Delivery, says that organisations are looking for solutions that deliver services in the post-PC era.
These services can be accessed anywhere, on any device and at any time of day. Curtis says: “They enable users to collaborate in innovative ways and Microsoft’s aging architecture is dependent on client-based solutions. So it is very expensive to maintain and support; it’s also not aligned with today’s users who include the mobile workforce, companies around the world and contract and temporary workers.”
Open Source IT solutions are therefore an alternative that every organisation should consider. They are fully customisable as the very nature of their architecture means that the code is available, allowing IT professionals to adapt it to suit their needs. Working with other Open Source solutions specialists and community members, you can develop the code, help to create new solutions or improve existing ones and eradicate any bugs.
Another advantage of deploying Open Source solutions is that they come with no vendor lock-in, and they have a high degree of “interoperability with other solutions as most Open Source software such as Zimbra supports Open Standards”, he explains.
Zimbra is recommended by LinuxIT as it offers a feature-rich browser-based experience that enables users to connect with their personal Clouds on any device and platform. It has a mailbox that helps them to manage their information, social media, email, voice, calendar, tasks, address book and connect to their enterprise applications. It provides users with offline and online access, including on smartphones like the iPhone, Android and BlackBerry. It is also compatible with current desktop email and calendar clients.
Curtis says that Zarafa is a good alternative to Microsoft Exchange too as it is open, it has an MAPI architecture that makes it scalable and compatible with Outlook (as well as with BlackBerry and ActiveSync handheld devices that use Z-Push), and it is an enterprise-class solution. Zarafa offers its partners ticketed support too, and beyond it, organisations can use Gmail and other Google Apps.
But is it worthwhile building your own alternative to Microsoft Exchange with Linux and Open Source software? “It depends on what you are using it for; true mail (SMTP) systems would benefit from the design and build. But for things like groupware it would not be worthwhile as it works out more expensive to build”, says Curtis.
Open Source specialist LinuxIT can assist you with building an Application Ready Infrastructure (ARI) as well as helping your organisation with the ongoing Linux systems management. “With that dependable, secure and stable base, it would not be difficult to float a simple mail stack, and you can cut costs on mailbox numbers by saving 75% with a simple email solution”, he concludes. So the writing could soon be on the wall for Microsoft Exchange; but then again, even Microsoft is adapting to the Cloud era.