Getting Connected: The Evolution of Linux and Windows E-Mail Integration
Linux Alternatives In an Exchange Environment
In today's world of tight IT and MIS budgets, saving money and investing wisely in new infrastructure are words to keep your job by. Regardless of whether there's a recession, times are tough and money is tight. Cutting costs while improving performance is therefore much more than just a good thing or resume fodder - it's almost a necessity. Hence many people's love affair with Linux - as a free alternative to many of the tools and infrastructure requirements that we're all used to (and tasked with) providing, Linux can be a dream come true to an overworked and underfunded IT staff with the expertise necessary to support and manage it.
One of the big questions about Linux is whether it can truly provide all of the services required in today's enterprise. In a previous piece for LinuxPlanet, I explained that as much as many of us would like to believe otherwise, Microsoft currently owns the enterprise infrastructure for today's business environment. Features such as the calendaring and scheduling provided by the Microsoft Exchange mail server have become an invisible standard that many people depend on but do not recognize as being proprietary enhancements to existing standards. (Perhaps I should have said 'value added solutions - I'm not sure.)
At any rate, until Linux can provide replacements for the services that people actually depend on, it's not ready for desktop prime time. Sure, Linux owns the web server market (yawn), but even in the most hopelessly buzzword-driven company, there's much more to infrastructure than just web servers.
A previous piece on LinuxPlanet discussed Bynari Software's InsightConnector, a sexy Windows-side tool that fools Windows Outlook mail clients into doing the right thing with open IMAP (Internet Mail Access Protocol) mail servers. However, the ability to replace Exchange servers is only half of the compatibility equation. Bynari's InsightConnector solves Windows client problems. but what about the rest of us who use other systems (such as, say, Linux or Solaris) on the desktop, and still need to schedule the occasional meeting or two or simply see when someone is available? Luckily for us, we are now seeing the birth of some powerful new mail clients and related add-ons that can do the right thing, The best known, and currently the best, of these is Ximian's aptly-named Evolution.