Nov 2, 2008

Why Exchange is still better than Zimbra: A response from a Bauer-Power reader

A few months ago I re-posted an article that the Slothman over at AskTheAdmin wrote. It was on the relatively new open source alternative to Microsoft Exchange called Zimbra. Friday I brought that article to the top, and that sparked an interesting rebuttal from Bauer-Power reader William Lefkovics.

Instead of keeping his ideas secluded in the comments section of that post, I though I would re-post his rebuttal here. Without further ado, here is William's rebuttal to the Slothman:

Wow. There is so much misinformation there, I don't know where to start. First, I love Zimbra (at least up until their sale to Yahoo! which still has lingering merger issues with Microsoft and AOL). I started with ZCS 3.0 and support 5.0 today.

The free version of Zimbra does not have all the features of the commercial Network version, and is not even a competitor to Exchange. The Network version of Zimbra is $35/user per year. It is a subscription license. If you run it on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, also a subscription license, the costs compare to Exchange 2007 on Windows 2003 in about the 4th year.

Please explain how Microsoft Exchange is "notably vulnerable to attacks and viruses". I have never heard of an Exchange virus, but I have only been running Exchange for 10 years (and Zimbra for 2 1/2). It is a messaging system, so it will transport viruses through SMTP messages, just like Zimbra, Scalix, Cisco PostPath, OpenXChange, Axigen, Domino, Oracle Collaboration Suite, SendMail, etc without proper anti-virus mechanisms applied somewhere.

Exchange is not as scalable as other solutions? Ever try Zimbra with 1000 users with the Outlook connectors? Back in Exchange 2003, has 6 million users with 150,000 users per Exchange Server (low concurrency and IMAP connected). Walmart, US Dept of Defense... hundreds of thousands of Exchange mailboxes. It is scalable.

1000 Zimbra users on an old box with 1 GB of RAM? Have you tried that? With the Network version with the Archiving module, Zimbra Mobile, Outlook connector, etc? Web administration is an option on many messaging solutions. They all tend to be limited. I actually use the Zimbra CLI over SSH rather than the slow, poorly designed Web admin UI.

Yes, Exchange is a beefy solution. It needs and uses resources. I am not sure why that is a bad thing. It doesn't take any more administrative effort than alternatives like Zimbra. They all require backups, reporting, user administration, etc.

Zimbra and Scalix are not, and never have been, "Exchange Killers". They are, however, Exchange competitors. They offer great alternatives to enterprises comfortable with administering messaging solutions on Linux. And they are solid products. And so is Exchange Server.

Great feedback William! Does anyone have anything to add to William's ideas? Anyone disagree. I want to hear from you in the comments!

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