Monday, January 08, 2007

Exchange Server Alternatives - Scalix

I've made some additional progress in the ongoing saga to find an alternative to Microsoft Exchange. As promised, I've done some research into (and actually played with) Scalix. I came at this one with some skepticism, largely because of the great deal of online attention focussed on its competitors, most notably Open-Xchange. I was pleasantly surprised -- this is a very good alternative to OX.

Like most of the packages I've explored so far, Scalix comes in both "free" and "commercial" flavours. Unlike its competitors, it's not as feature-crippled in the for-free version. Of the most interest to me at this point is the fact that it offers complete Outlook connectivity without a fee. Admittedly, the free version only offers this for a limited number of users, but you can upgrade to the commercial version at any time without a complete reinstall required. This is quite attractive.

It took me some time to figure out what all of the various offerings on their web site were -- and to distinguish between the various versions. Things get much simpler if you simply go to the download page and give it a read -- I recommend skipping much of the marketing hype and going directly there.

I have found Outlook support on everything I've looked at so far to be... well... okay. Not great, but acceptable. So when I saw this on the Scalix site:

Scalix offers the Linux industry’s most transparent Outlook support because it is a mature native MAPI implementation. Scalix’s Outlook support has been enhanced further with Scalix 11, with indexed search and improved mobile performance.
I was skeptical, to say the least. I am pleased to report that there is sometimes truth in marketing. Support for Outlook (a client which I personally do not like or use, I might add, but many people I work with require it) is exceptionally good in this package. In addition, the package offers support for Google Desktop and MSN Search, McAfee VirusScan, Symantec Norton Utilities and Captaris RightFax Outlook Extension. Well done.

I plan on doing some extensive testing on this in the coming days, but right now this package wins, hands down.