Seven mail servers tested

Summary:Exchange might be the most popular but is it the best? We test the alternatives.

Exchange might be the most popular but is it the best? We test the alternatives.

Basic Mail Server Security
IBM Domino
Ipswitch iMail Server
Kerio MailServer
Microsoft Exchange
Novell Groupwise
SuSE Linux OpenExchange
What to look for
Sample scenarios
Editor's choice
About RMIT

I will be up-front and say that I have always preferred a well configured Linux Sendmail server when it came to the mail server and operating system of choice.

While I have dabbled with various different Linux- and Windows-based mail systems over the years such as Postfix, Exchange, Domino, and Q-Mail, I keep returning to Sendmail.

The choice for Sendmail and other variants of Linux-based mail servers is fairly obvious -- the operating system. Linux is a very robust operating system to use when facing the public Internet and when running critical online applications.

Particularly so in the days before alternative means of Internet protection such as firewalls, intrusion detection or prevention systems (IDS/IPS).

Linux also has phenomenal reliability and can work with limited resources, we have an Intel PII 233MHZ CPU/128MB RAM server running Slackware/Sendmail which has been running with approx 500 mailboxes for the last six years with just one failure (a PSU fan). It has only been administratively down three times in that period, twice for routine maintenance to replace/upgrade the hard disk drive unit and once to relocate it to a different datacentre.

Don't worry this will not be a pro-Linux rant, we can assure you that we are certainly not a supporters of any one particular platform, operating system or appliance.

Remaining independent and subjective one has to concede that some features not readily enabled in a Linux environment would be seen as attractive to enterprise level IT departments, engineers, and technical staff.

These features are things such as:

  • Ease of management and administration (particularly patch and security).
  • Wide availability of vendor support and training
  • Access to a ready stream of certified, experienced engineers

It also provides easily deployable integrated application options such as:
  • Instant messaging (IM)
  • Compatibility with advanced e-mail client application/features
  • Unified Directory services
  • Collaboration services
  • Global document management
  • Global calendar/diary functionality
  • Global personal information management systems (PIM)
  • Customer relationship management systems (CRM)
  • Journaling or time logging capabilities
  • Support for emerging devices and applications such as Blackberries, VoIP and other global system services

As mentioned, while some of these are available as additional applications and plug-ins to various flavours of Linux and its associated mail servers they are not as readily accessible or unified as most of the "other" vendors packages.

Topics: Enterprise Software, Collaboration, Hardware, Microsoft, Networking, Servers

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