Linux alternatives to Windows SBS part two
Zimbra has a funny name but a well regarded one. Zimbra’s flagship product – Zimbra Collaboration Suite 5.0 (ZCS) – is a modern messaging and collaboration application.
By itself, Zimbra is not an out-of-the-box SBS replacement. That’s where ClarkConnect really excelled. However, Zimbra has to be mentioned because it offers unparalleled flexibility and ease of maintenance for all your groupware requirements. This includes e-mail, calendars, tasks, anti-spam protection, webmail and much more. It is an ideal replacement for Microsoft Exchange.
Although Zimbra is not bundled with any specific Linux distribution this is no problem; it is a straightforward matter to load it on top of any existing installation. The base Linux component will cater for the file- and print-sharing, and domain authentication, requirements while Zimbra covers the groupware requirements.
In fact, Zimbra really does its part well. It will work with Microsoft Outlook (in the Professional edition only), but also provides its own feature-rich webmail system and an offline desktop client which is as snappy as a crocodile that's just been smiled at.
Support for both Activesync and BlackBerry have been provided, meaning you can connect any of a raft of mobile devices to your system for remote working. This includes BlackBerry handhelds, of course, but also any Windows Mobile phone or even the iPhone, because these use ActiveSync for over-the-air mail and calendar and contact synchronisation.
The consumer and e-mail editions of Zimbra are available free of charge. Paid support can be picked up, at an annual rate.
Two retail versions of Zimbra exist, which compare extremely well to SBS. The standard edition begins at $25/user/year for up to 25 seats and 50 or more seats begin at $18/user/year. The professional edition is $10 higher per user. The greatest reason to move away from the standard edition is for the Outlook integration which is only available with the professional edition. The greatest reason to move from the free, open source, edition to the standard edition is to unlock clustering and high availability options, online backups and restores and to rebrand the product if that is important to you.
Zimbra is a flexible and very friendly product. Your users will love it. Besides making a tremendous Exchange replacement it offers great new features of its own within the Zimbra mail clients such as “conversation view” which pieces together the flow of e-mails within the same conversation, stripping out all the other clutter that you’d ordinarily see in your inbox or in other folders.
Page one – introduction
Page two – Zimbra
Page three – Open-Xchange
Page four – Zarafa
Page five – Kerio and reader feedback
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David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. Within two years, he returned to his alma mater, the University of Newcastle, as a UNIX systems manager. This was a crucial time for UNIX at the University with the advent of the World-Wide-Web and the decline of VMS. David moved on to a brief stint in consulting, before returning to the University as IT Manager in 1998. In 2001, he joined an international software company as Asia-Pacific troubleshooter, specialising in AIX, HP/UX, Solaris and database systems. Settling down in Newcastle, David then found niche roles delivering hard-core tech to the recruitment industry and presently is the Chief Information Officer for a national resources company where he particularly specialises in mergers and acquisitions and enterprise applications.