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Say you are responsible for setting up an email solution at a company. Which would be your choice? I know of the following options, but many of them not well:

  1. Gordano Mail System
  2. Exchange
  3. Exim
  4. Postfix
  5. Qmail
  6. Zimbra

For having used it a little over two years, I really, really like Gordano Mail System. A fair bit more than Exchange, I must admit, but I'm biased against Microsoft, so I am not a fair judge. GMS lets you modulate what you need: it comes with email/aliases/calendaring (and good logging), and you can pay for support/upgrades, anti-spam, anti-virus. Their support is top-notch, their KB comprehensive (and, I will admit with a touch of pride, I have contributed, with my questions, to the addition of a few articles in there). Although, if you need a Blackberry Exchange Server, or something similar, I'm not sure what you should go for.
I've never gotten to play with the Google Apps but I've heard a lot of good from that, too (despite my personal belief that Google is Big Brother :) ).

So.. What would your choice be? Why? I've never played with a more DIY email solution, but I'm sure many people here have and wouldn't trade their setup for the world :)

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How about specifying how many users the solution is intended for? –  HTTP500 Jan 29 '10 at 16:35
    
This is a subjective question, I'm posting my 'answer' as a comment. The system running on our network is a hybrid of postfix/spam assassin + Exchange 2003, plus some perl scripts to configure postfix with valid email addresses from AD. –  Bryan Jan 29 '10 at 17:37
    
May be a dupe of serverfault.com/questions/722/… –  Avery Payne Jan 29 '10 at 17:45
    
Jason: How would your answer change if the answer was 50 or 50,000 or 500,000 ? –  Trevoke Jan 29 '10 at 17:58
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If it was 50 I would outsource and use Google Apps (free) or Rackspace ($1/mailbox/mo for regular POP/IMAP). If it's 50,000 outsourcing is likely cost prohibitive and favors hiring email administration resources and running your own servers (and paying for infrastructure). –  HTTP500 Jan 29 '10 at 19:12
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5 Answers 5

My advice: If you found a email system you don't hate, keep using it and consider yourself very lucky.

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Without a lot more details as to your setup it's quite hard to make an informed comment but those are mostly over rated..

If your talking a handful of users in a generic small corporate office then the Windows Small Business stuff (Including Exchange/Outlook) can be reasonably compelling for a few reasons. Mostly it is something the users are familiar with and it is generic enough that support for issues is easy to find.

With respect to the FOSS solutions and others such as Zimbra; I'd steer clear of them unless you have a decent quantity of inhouse expertise in the technologies involved. Finding an outsourced company to support your generic Outlook setup will be trivial, finding the same for your Zimbra/Scalix/Custom IMAP solution hack won't be.

As to Gordano; I've never heard of them and yet their website claims to be a leading collaborative software solution. That's the kind of statement that gives me pause.

For reference professionally I've worked with (as an administrator) GroupWise, Exchange, Zarafa, Zimbra and a raft of mta's (exim, postfix, et al) and storage backends (cyrus, dovcot, washington) and for all of them Exchange gives the most bang for buck with the least effort and easiest generic support path.

Alternatively you could entirely outsource your problems and go with something like Google Apps, hosted Zimbra, or find a local outsourced admin team and have them install whatever they are happy to support.

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Well my choice would be non of the above. May I recommend looking at Zimbra Collaboration Suite. I have used both the FOSS (Free) and Network version with great success.

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Kyle has it right - If you have a mail solution you don't hate and it has no glaring shortcomings you have found your system, don't change if you don't have to.

Out of your list I would discount Qmail: As far as I'm aware djb doesn't maintain it anymore, and while it's got a great community and lots of "modernizing" fixes (vpopmail, etc.) it does seem to be a niche market and I find that its quirks tend to outweigh its benefits.

Also if you're not married to the "djb way of doing things" (daemontools and the like) qmail will be pretty heavy culture shock.


For what it's worth: At work we're running qmail, soon to be replaced by an XServe running Apple Mail Services (essentially a fancied-up version of postfix, but we're switching for other reasons). At home I run sendmail (because a long time ago I memorized the Bat Book, and its suck level hasn't exceeded my threshold for replacing it yet).

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Google apps if you can get away without BES, hosted Exchange if you can't. If you don't have hundreds of employees it doesn't make sense to keep mail in-house anymore.

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That entirely depends on your business; if he is talking about a law firm with 20 people it could be criminally negligent to have your email hosted elsewhere. If your bouncing huge attachments internally a n outsourced vendor may not permit that. If your internet connection is intermittent you may need a cached offline solution with a local server. It makes plenty of sense for a lot of small companies without BES to host mail internally. –  Antitribu Jan 29 '10 at 17:15
    
There are obviously exceptions to everything, but "criminally negligent" is FUD spread by control-hungry sysadmins trying to protect their job. Multiple law firms have gone so far as to publish joint press-releases with google about their migration. –  cagenut Jan 29 '10 at 18:57
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I've been both a Lawyer and a Sysadmin and can tell you professionally that many of the hosting enviro's wouldn't cut it. While some of it is FUD in the event of a privacy breach you could be run into serious issues depending on you jurisdiction and "it was our hosts fault" won't save you. Specific areas of law also are subject to greater privacy requirements and as such would not be suitable for outsourcing in this manner as you lose control as to 3rd party access. You also open yourself to issues if your host is subpoenaed and/or hands over your info, too much risk. (Not legal advice etc) –  Antitribu Jan 29 '10 at 19:44
    
BES and Google Apps work together. –  Chris Thorpe Feb 8 '10 at 18:57
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