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I work at a relatively small company, around 30 people and we are now looking into a solution that can handle:

  • File sharing.
  • Email server.
  • Calendar support.
  • Around 30 users.
  • Accessible from external network.
  • Support for Windows XP (and above), Mac OS 10.6.3 and Ubuntu clients.

When it comes down to security we don't have the experience to comment on that. I guess the de facto standard is good enough for us.

Sorry if this is formulated as a n00b question, because it is. =) Any kind of pointer in the right direction will be appreciated. Thanks in advance! //Abean

EDIT: We have no demands on which OS this should be hosted on, even though I personally prefer a non-M$ OS. Also, if there is a product that can handle all of these requirements that whould be great.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

I know you asked for non-MS, but Small Business Server 2008 does everything you asking for, is extremely widely supported, and is pretty easy to get going. It's not the cheapest at about $3000 Retail if you have a server already, but it's a fair amount cheaper if you buy it with a server (like from HP or Dell).

You do have to consider the cost of support too. This type of setup will be the cheapest to support in the long run. I'm assuming you don't work for free, so make sure you include your time in any cost estimates.

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+1 for SBS -- depending on how deeply you need to integrate the Ubuntu and Mac clients, you may run into some issues, but both should have no issues doing basic authentication, accessing mailboxes (use IMAP + client of your choice or Envolution/Mac Mail will use OWA as well), fileshares (Samba client), and printers. – gravyface Apr 8 '10 at 14:52

Assuming you have some linux/nix skills, il think i may run the following way:

For file sharing i would go trought setting up a Solaris server with CIFS sharing over ZFS, that way backups and instant recovery are going to be easy.

For email and calendar maybe you may look at Zimbra which is a opensource email and collabaration system.

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You asked for something non-MS, and as someone pointed out the Small Business Server would fit the bill, unfortunately.

The best answer is that this depends on your skillsets. A Linux/FreeBSD server can do all this and much more, BUT they have a BIG investment on learning curve if you don't already have the skills.

The payoff is great once you're up and running and learn how to properly administer them. But you don't want to be learning everything from commandline to compile time on a production server. You definitely don't want to feel your way around learning to configure, maintain, and back up a server with all those services that is also accessible from an external network!

You would best be served by hiring an outside contractor/consultant local to your area to help you or grow an in-house IT department, even if it's one skilled person, to handle this (with thirty people you probably would be in need of this kind of service soon anyway if you don't already have one started). In the meantime the MS solution is well supported and there's far more people with these skills in the commercial sector than I'd care to acknowledge.

In the end...

Linux/*BSD would work great, as long as you have a knowledgeable person on staff to configure and maintain it and support your users. It would be minimal in cost except for the talent maintaining it.

Windows will work fine, there are more people that tend to maintain and be knowledgeable in that OS so they are cheaper, but you still have labor costs (if it's outside your expertise) and more licensing costs.

Either way you're going to need to invest in securing your server and having a good backup solution and invest in a good support structure for maintaining the system(s).

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I'm a heavy FreeBSD user (all my persona systems), but finding professional support is extremely difficult. My though, if finding support in the event I get hit by a bus is something that can go wrong, then Murphy's law applies. Of course some falvors of Linux have great support (Suse and Redhat spring to mind first). – Chris S Apr 8 '10 at 15:09
I wasn't thinking of support in that way at the time (thinking more like local consultant or vendor that can be onsite if needed for small businesses) but you're right, Red Hat/Suse/etc. do offer support contracts, and otherwise you really need in-house admins with knowledge on using these platforms for supporting them properly. The drawback for Windows-based solutions is there are a huge number of consultants out there, and most people can't tell the good from the bad from the mediocre. But they're still available and sometimes that's all small biz cares about. – Bart Silverstrim Apr 8 '10 at 15:38

I like SBS (alot), but in your case I would recommend getting started with Google Apps.

There is a free edition for up to 50 users, and a "premier" edition for $50/user/year. Either can do everything on your list. I would go "Premier" if you think you will get beyond 50 users anytime soon or think "Google Groups" (essentially an intranet) has value to your company.

IMHO the only thing you are risking with Google Apps is the time it might take to migrate should you decide to go another direction. If you are in a hurry, get started with Google Apps and take your time deciding on a permanent solution.

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I'd suggest taking a look at google apps - probably one of THE best webmail interfaces around, file sharing with google docs, and incredibly easy to support. Its free for the number of users you have, or 50 USD/year/user for the premium version, with a lot more space

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