Thursday, August 28, 2008

Can open source replace Microsoft Exchange?

Open source projects and vendors are trying a variety of technical approaches to replacing the expensive but ubiquitous Microsoft Exchange. While none is yet a drop-in replacement, some administrators can get a TCO advantage by switching.

Once upon a time at a NASA space flight center a long way away, I was an e-mail administrator. At the time, the 1980s, e-mail was still chaotic. The RFC 822 standard was only beginning to bring rhyme and reason to e-mail. One of RFC 822's competitors, the Common Messaging Calls (CMC) X.400 standard, wasn't making much progress, but then Microsoft adopted it in 1992, added the concepts of folders to it, and re-named the result Mail Application Programming Interface (MAPI). And, ever since, the e-mail world can broadly be divided into two camps: the RFC 822 Internet compliant e-mail group and the MAPI-compliant Microsoft Outlook/Exchange pack.

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