Sunday, February 1, 2009

Exchange Server Replacements for New Businesses

For an SMB with no history, there are many more options available for you than for older businesses which need to support legacy stuff.

The method is $50 per user per year, and will offer much of the Echange functionality at a low cost with a limited SLA and no maintenance. If I were starting a new business right now, I'd probably try to make this one work and create a work-flow around it while backing up data locally on a regular basis. Once Google comes out with an Apps version of the Google Mini, it should be a go-to choice for a lot of businesses. Right now, though, the whole system's pretty new and that worries some folks. Don't believe the "Google Beta" FUDders -- the Premium Edition has an SLA and isn't marked "beta" (but it also doesn't have the newest features in the Free "beta" version).

eGroupware is an extremely mature web-server based collab suite with Exchange functions plus project management, a wiki a DMS (more limited than Sharepoint), and a knowledge base. The whole thing can use LDAP for auth, meaning that it can tie into an AD or LDAP-Kerberos setup. It uses IMAP and ICAL protocols for client software if you want that. It's free, but you need to admin your own hardware. There are support contracts available. eGroupware is FOSS.

There's also Citadel, which has been pushed really hard lately in a lot of Open Source press, but which I've never used. People say it's able to work with Outlook directly, is mature, and is feature-complete. It's free, but there doesn't appear to be official paid support on the site. Citadel is FOSS.

If you're willing to go the Google Apps method, you should also look into Zoho. It's also $50 per user per year, but the first ten are free. If I had a bunch of users used to MS Office, I think Zoho would be an easier transition to hosted for them than Google Apps would be. I like GA better for its simplicity, though. Zoho is more integrated and pollished, but it doesn't have the real-time collaboration.


Anonymous said...

There are some paid support options available for Citadel if you ask around on the support forum, but at our place (we've got about 150 users on Citadel) we found that the free support from the community was so good that we ended up not needing it. Also they have a hosted (SaaS) option available, but again you have to ask around on the support forum to find it.


Yeah. I was absolutely sure that there was paid support somewhere (there always is for FOSS) so I was careful to add "on the site" and "doesn't appear to be." I knew I'd be proven wrong otherwise. Hehe. ;)

Thanks for the info.

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