Report: Open-source e-mail systems biggest threat to Microsoft Exchange

Summary:For the past couple of years, Microsoft has been fixated on beating IBM Lotus Notes/Domino in the e-mail server market. But according to a Yankee Group report that will be published next month, the real threat to Microsoft Exchange isn't IBM -- it's Linux- and open-source-based e-mail servers.

For the past couple of years, Microsoft has been fixated on beating IBM Lotus Notes/Domino in the e-mail server market. But according to a Yankee Group report that will be published next month, the real threat to Microsoft Exchange isn't IBM -- it's Linux- and open-source-based e-mail servers.

Yankee will publish in April its "2007 Global Server Hardware and Server OS Survey." The survey of nearly 1,000 IT managers and C-level executives includes some "ominous" news for Microsoft, according to a copy of the executive summary of the study that I had a chance to see this week.

"In an ominous portent for Microsoft, 23% of the survey respondents indicated they intend to migrate away from Exchange Server and switch to an alternative Linux or open source Email and messaging distribution platform over the next 12 to 18 months. The users attributed their decision to their belief that Linux Email and messaging packages are cheaper and easier to manage than Exchange," according to study author and Yankee analyst Laura DiDio.

About 65 percent of the survey respondents currently use Exchange. The remaining third currently use IBM Lotus Notes, Novell GroupWise and other third-party e-mail systems. Of the Microsoft users surveyed, 19 percent said they planned to upgrade to Exchange Server 2007 within the first 12 months of product availability, Yankee's study found.

"Rival Linux Email and messaging packages still have a long way to go to catch up to all of the embedded functionality of Exchange but that is proving to be neither an impediment nor a deterrents to the nearly one-quarter of the corporate businesses that claim they are committed to swapping out Exchange for Linux and open source alternatives," Yankee's report said.

What's behind the switch?

Cost, complexity and "difficulty in maintaining and managing Exchange," according to the study. "Those three factors, according to 23% of the survey respondents, far outweigh the myriad integrated benefits offered in the Microsoft Email and messaging platform and make Linux and open source solutions more attractive to their respective businesses," Yankee found.

DiDio didn't list which e-mail packages are most interesting to potential Exchange switchers. There are a growing number of Linux/open-source e-mail systems on the market, however, ranging from Scalix to Zimbra.

In 2006, market researchers at the Radicati Group found Microsoft Exchange to have 31 percent of the worldwide corporate messaging software market. IBM Domino/Notes/Workplace had 21 percent. And the "other" category was the remaining 48 percent.

When asked about the Yankee Group findings, Microsoft officials provided the following statement:

"Microsoft is unable to comment on a report that is not published. We would be happy to provide comment on the findings of the report once it's final and we are able to read the report in its entirety."

Any Exchange users out there looking to make the switch? If so, what e-mail servers are you considering? 

 

Topics: Microsoft

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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