Microsoft Exchange Server has evolved into a full-fledged communication and collaboration that a large number of corporations swear by to increase their productivity and facilitate easier communication. However, at its heart, Microsoft Exchange Server is a mail server.
While there is no doubt that Microsoft Exchange Server is one of the most advanced collaboration and messaging systems around with multitude of features and a lot of strengths, however it has some disadvantages too Ã¢â‚¬â€œ including the fact that it works only on Windows Platform and high licensing costs.
As with any other service or product, Microsoft Exchange Server has competitors in the market with their own strengths and weaknesses, letÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s take a look at some of the other mail servers.
Zimbra Collaboration Suite Ã¢â‚¬â€œ This software has been developed as a complete collaboration suite by Zimbra Inc. (which was purchased by Yahoo in September 2007) and is available in two flavors Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 1) as an open source version released under Yahoo Public License, and 2) as a commercial closed source version.
Zimbra supports email with shared public folders, contacts, shared calenders, instant messaging, tasks and online word-processing with edit-history feature. It can also store the attachments online in a briefcase for later reference and usage.
This software also has support for various email clients — including outlook, windows smart-phones, blackberry handsets and Apple iPhone. Zimbra Collaboration Suite also supports Mobile access with J2ME devices and HTML browsers.
Zimbra comes with a web-based administration console and an integrated anti-spam and anti-virus system. It is also compatible with LDAP and Active Directory and supports real time backup and restore.
This software runs on Linux and Mac OSX but not Windows and has support for databases and file system storage.
IBM Lotus Domino – IBM Lotus Domino started its life as Lotus Notes Server — which was developed by Lotus Development Corporation and was later taken over by IBM Corporation. IBM markets this product as an enterprise email, collaboration and custom application platform.
The various features this software supports include an email server with support for Lotus Notes, POP3, IMAP, web browser and Outlook clients and SMTP. It also has an application server, a web-server, a database server and a directory server (LDAP).
IBM also offers various add-ins for data integration, instant messaging, web conferencing, document management, collaboration and mobile push-synchronzation of email, calender, contacts and tasks with handheld devices.
IBM Lotus Domino has the capability to run on either Windows or Linux.
Eudora Internet Mail Server – Development of Eudora Internet Mail Server Ã¢â‚¬â€œ which was earlier known as Mail share Ã¢â‚¬â€œ was started in 1993 by Glenn Anderson and it was made available as a freeware.
In 1995, Apple Computer purchased the software from Glen Anderson and renamed it to Apple Internet Mail Server. Apple Computer sold this software to Equal in the year 1997 and it was then renamed as Eudora Internet Mail Server or EIMS.
Equal released this software as a commercial product between Version 2.0 and 3.1. In 2001, Equal licensed the software back to the original creator Glen Anderson.
Eudora Internet Mail Server runs only on Mac OSX and doesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t support Linux or Windows.
Novell GroupWise Ã¢â‚¬â€œ GroupWise is developed by Novell, Inc. and is a cross-platform collaboration software which offers email, calendaring, instant messaging and document manager. The development work on GroupWise was started by WordPerfect Corporation in conjunction with some of their largest customers in the year 1986 as an extension of the WordPerfect suite.
Initially the product offered only a personal calendar, editor, notebook, calculator, file manager and Shell and did not have any support for email or calendaring.
Novell acquired WordPerfect in the year 1994 and ported the server components to Net Ware operating system and renamed WordPerfect office to GroupWise. Even though Novell sold most of WordPerfect applications to Corbel, however, they decided to keep GroupWise.
Novell GroupWare has the ability to operate on various platforms including Net ware, Linux and Windows. There is also a connector available for Microsoft Outlook and Novell Evolution. The ability to access the functionality of the desktop client on the internet and mobile devices is made available using GroupWise Web Access.
The product also supports IMAP and SOAP access to user mailboxes with the GroupWise Post Office Agent (POA) while GroupWise Internet Agent (GWIA) provides SMTP communication to other E-Mail systems, and also supports IMAP, POP3, SOAP, and Calendar access to user mailboxes.
Afar — Afar is developed as an alternative to Microsoft Exchange Server by a Netherlands based company called ConnecT UX. It is a commercial software that runs on Linux and doesn’t support Windows or Mac OSX Platform Ã¢â‚¬â€œ however, it does support Microsoft Outlook using MAPI.
The server data is stored in a MySQL database and can get its user information from the MySQL database or LDAP or the unix users. Software supports webmail access to email using online PHP-backend software with an AJAX frontend and using POP3, IMAP and cAlendar
Among other things, the software has inbuilt support for address book, calendar, notes, tasks and personal folders.