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Why You Should Consider an Alternative Email Platform

This comprehensive whitepaper from Osterman Research explores the dynamics of the messaging market, while conducting a comparative study of the AXIGEN Mail Server and Microsoft Exchange solutions. Based on the analysis of various deployment scenarios, AXIGEN stands out as the alternative of choice to Exchange, including in what overall performance, speed, total cost of ownership (TCO), scalability and security features are concerned.

1. About This White Paper

This white paper is sponsored by Gecad Technologies, the developer of AXIGEN, an alternative to Microsoft Exchange.  While Exchange is a solid and robust email platform that has roughly 150 million users in its installed base, it has a higher TCO than AXIGEN and does not support a variety of server operating system or client access modes. It is important to note that the goal of this white paper is simply to compare the features and benefits of both Exchange and AXIGEN, not to denigrate the many features and capabilities of Exchange.

2. What Should a Mail Server Do?

Email Is Critical to Users and Organizations. Virtually anyone who uses email at work understands how important this capability to getting his or her work done.  For example, an Osterman Research survey conducted during March 2009 found that the typical user spends 152 minutes each day working in email.  Based on an average workday of nine hours nine minutes discovered in that survey, the typical user spends 28% of his or her day doing something in their email client.  Interestingly, we found virtually identical results for both smaller and larger organizations with a difference of only one minute in the average time spent using email on a typical day.

In addition to spending more than one-quarter of their day in email, most users also check work-related email from home on weekdays after hours and on weekends.  Further, a large proportion of users access their work email while on vacation.

3. Deployment Scenarios

While there is some commonality of system requirements across small organizations, large organizations and carriers that provide hosted email services, there are differences in the requirements that each type of organization has for its email capabilities.

– Low-end Enterprise Environments

In order to address the needs of small and medium businesses, an email server needs to have a variety of key features.  These include the basic features and functions needed to satisfy generalist email requirements, including:

  • It must be easy to install, configure and manage, particularly for organizations or satellite offices of larger organizations that may not have dedicated IT staff.
  • It must require as little additional expertise and infrastructure as possible.
  • It must have a low cost of acquisition and management.
  • It must provide robust security and filtering capabilities to protect against the growing variety of spam and malware traversing the Internet.

While Exchange can satisfy the email requirements for smaller organizations, it has a much higher total cost of ownership (TCO) compared to AXIGEN.  At the same time, installing and managing the server can be quite a time-consuming task for an inexperienced administrator. In turn, this adds either additional support costs, or it requires official training on top of the solution’s base price.  This is an important decision factor for most mid-sized organizations, particularly during the current economic downturn.

AXIGEN, on the other hand, has a much lower baseline TCO and a free license for up to five accounts with unlimited support tickets for a year is available.  Although the five-account license will not be sufficient for more than the very smallest of organizations, there are a variety of online resources and free online training sessions that can support deployment of the AXIGEN system for even inexperienced administrators.

For small-scale environments, Exchange also has a significant number of requirements and dependencies to deploy.  For example, deployment of Exchange also requires deployment and configuration of Windows Server and a domain controller.  While this is a useful requirement for Exchange and simplifies the management of the more advanced features available with Exchange, it cannot truly be justified in a very small deployment.

Helping AXIGEN to achieve a much lower TCO is the fact that it can run on a variety of inexpensive or free operating systems, such as Ubuntu, CentOS and various UNIX-based operating systems.  Further, AXIGEN will run on 32-bit hardware, allowing an organization to repurpose an unused server.

Both Exchange and AXIGEN offer very good security.  AXIGEN appears to be more secure because only two vulnerabilities have ever been reported for the system and both were addressed in less than 24 hours.  However, it is unfair to compare the exposure of Exchange to the malicious user community because of the dramatically greater number of Exchange servers in use and the Server’s greater longevity.  On balance, both systems should be considered quite secure for smaller environments, as well as larger ones.

– High-end Enterprise Environments

Large enterprises with hundreds or thousands of email users have advanced requirements and rely on email to an even greater extent than do small organizations, in large part because many users in these organizations are geographically distributed.  In addition to the same requirements of low-end enterprise environments, large organizations generally require a refined quality of service and more features and functions, including the following:

  • Calendaring, sharing and permissions
  • Detailed reports and usage statistics
  • Custom filtering and message rules
  • Easy to use Webmail with sophisticated features that emulate the full client experience
  • Integration with other network systems
  • High availability and basic clustering

Although there is actually a much larger list of features and functions that are required for email by larger enterprises, the list above should be more than sufficient to outline the type of requirements that must be met by a high-end email solution.

For the more detailed comparison as applied to high-end enterprise environments, but also to large-scale solutions ( comparing advanced features like: clustering, high performance and reliability), please visit the complete whitepaper at: http://www.axigen.com/articles/an-osterman-research-white-paper-axigen-the-alternative-for-exchange_55.html

Additionally, for free training on Linux and Windows messaging, we invite you to check out our free (both live and recorded) webinars at: http://www.axigen.com/webinars/

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