Thoughts, information and reflections about technology

Open Source Alternatives to Exchange

As I mentioned in a previous post, we had a situation where we were looking at open source alternatives to MS Exchange. One thing to keep in mind is, that in this case, open source does not mean free. The client qualified for academic pricing which actually put the cost for 10 users on MS Exchange below the competition.

The first issue was a machine to run any linux based system. We had tried setting up VMWare on our new server which was running Server 2003. One installation of Ubuntu kept hanging up apparently because of issues with the US mirror servers.

We tried a copy of OpenExchange Express. That looked like a pretty decent product. It comes bundled with its own copy of ubuntu. It installed OK inside VMWare except that we could not see the exchange server on the network. It was probably just some minor tweaking.

We also looked at a trial from Zimbra. The platform looks good but we could not get ubuntu to install inside VMware as we mentioned above.

After all of that, we found out that the client’s legacy programmers were using Exchange 2003 API hooks which clinched it. We had to go with MS Exchange 2003.

OpenExchange does have a higher end version that would support APIs but we felt that it would entail a little more risk.

The bottom line:

Microsoft is pretty generous with their licensing for Exchange for academic institutions. That pretty much negates any price advantage of open source software in this situation.

The open source solutions are worth looking at, especially for commercial use.

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