Should you upgrade Microsoft Exchange or switch to an alternative? It depends what you want. In addition to hosting your own solution it is now possible to outsource to a SaaS provider, providing management and investors are comfortable with the idea. Requirements to consider:
- Compatibility with Microsoft Outlook. All mail servers support IMAP and POP to access and download mail, but fewer solutions support Microsoft’s various proprietary protocol and extensions (eg. MAPI/RPC) used by more advanced features of Outlook. Open source implementations are still a work in progress.
- Storage management. Traditionally mail servers have supported a mailbox of up to 1-2GB, but what happens when a user accumulates more than that?
- Spam filtering and support for e-discovery. Postini addresses this well upstream from your corporate mail server and eliminates this as an issue.
- Smartphone integration. More proprietary protocols are used to synchronize smartphones using Windows ME or Blackberry OS.
Solutions to consider:
- Google. Google offers a hosted solution with IMAP. Premier edition offers 25GB storage and 99.9% uptime (=8-9 hours/year downtime) for $50/yr.
- Yahoo Zimbra. Competing solutions similar to Zimbra include Zarafa, Axigen and Scalix (fka. HP OpenMail). Zimbra gets the best reviews, however.
- MailStreet and Apptix have received good reviews for providing hosted Microsoft Exchange email services. MailStreet charges around $8/mo. including Outlook licence and 2GB storage.
Looking into the future Open-Xchange is closest to providing an open source solution including MAPI/RPC.