[Dovecot] OT: Large corporate email systems - Exchange vs open source *nix based

Stan Hoeppner stan at hardwarefreak.com
Wed Dec 11 12:36:00 EET 2013

On 12/10/2013 8:15 AM, Charles Marcus wrote:

> There has been some whispers about considering migrating our mail
> systems to Exchange Server. I want to try to nip this in the bud.
> I would like to ask for some help with providing some kind of comparison
> of large(r) commercial companies use of email systems... specifically,
> those using Microsoft Exchange Server, vs those using open source
> Linux/Unix based systems, including even commercial *nix groupware based
> systems like Zimbra, as well as plain mail systems like dovecot, or
> cyrus or courier.
> I know that many (if they are smart) Admins that do use Exchange
> internally will use postfix (or something else linux/unix based) in
> front of it as their relayhost (for both inbound and outbound), so just
> counting the number of publicly accessible smtp servers won't be a good
> gauge.
> Does anyone know of any decent non-biased studies that have been done,
> hopefully relatively recently (last few years) that provide such a
> comparison?

Microsoft Exchange is a mature, very robust mail/groupware platform, and
when combined with Outlook provides a very rich feature set and user
experience.  The level of client integration is superb out of the box.
MS Windows Server and Exchange server run just fine virtualized on ESX
and are both certified by Microsoft and VMware in this configuration.
If one looks at Exchange without wearing glasses colored by FLOSS, it is
a really great piece of software.  Lotus Notes was/is a piece of junk.
Novell's Groupwise was/is pretty close to Exchange but never achieved
wide adoption due to the MS Juggernaut.

There are multiple FLOSS groupware alternatives with similar features.
None offer the same level of seamless client integration or as rich a
feature set, though these solutions are getting closer.

The decision whether to stick with FLOSS or move to Exchange boils down
to a few things, assuming management is making the decision, not the IT

1. Capital outlay for the license fees
2. Administrative talent pool

Regarding #2, in any given city in the US there are at least 100
Windows/Exchange administrators per *nix/floss_groupware_product admin.
 If a company ever needs to sack key members of its IT staff for any
reason, or if it decides to sack them all and outsource IT
administration to a consulting firm, having an all or mostly MS
infrastructure makes this a no brainer.  I'm not suggesting this is a
possibility in your case, but that it's simply something that management
considers.  If they don't they're not doing their job.  Management
should never allow the company to be held hostage, have no options, due
to being reliant on a single systems administrator and his/er unique
knowledge of the infrastructure.


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