Competitors Turn Up the Heat on Microsoft Exchange

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2006-07-24 Print this article Print

The competitive landscape for the mission-critical e-mail, calendaring and messaging market is changing, and not necessarily in Microsoft's favor, as Lotus Notes on Linux makes its debut and Scalix reports a million mailboxes deployed.

Editors Note: This is the third in a series of articles that looks at how Microsoft plans to meet the enterprise needs of the mission-critical e-mail, calendaring and messaging market. As Microsoft moves closer to the release of Exchange 2007, its e-mail, calendaring and messaging product, it faces increased competitive pressure from long-standing competitors like Lotus Notes as well as from newer open source solutions.
Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash., released the second, widespread public beta for Exchange 2007 on July 24, with the product expected to ship in late 2006 or early 2007.
The second beta brings with it a host of new and improved functionality, and is feature complete. Read more here about the release of the second beta for Exchange 2007. Microsoft executives are also upbeat that they can grow their position in this highly competitive market. Dave Thompson, the corporate vice president for the Exchange Server product group, told eWEEK that when he talked to CIOs about the alternatives, the competitor that most often came up was Lotus Notes. While Novells GroupWise is still used by some companies, it is being rapidly replaced with Exchange, he said, adding that open-source solutions are mentioned competitively only very occasionally. "In fact I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times this has come up in the past two years," he said. The Exchange team spent a lot of time and resources building a product designed for enterprises and with features like designated calendar scheduling, mobile access, compliance and anti-virus, which "requires a lot of work, and open-source platforms havent become that sophisticated," he said. Thompson also said that in all his discussions with existing Notes customers, the reason they stayed on that platform was not because the mail and scheduling experience was better, but because of the applications that ran on it. Exchange 2007 has competitors, executives have said. Click here to read more. As such, Microsoft had developed the Microsoft Application Analyzer 2006 for Lotus Domino, which is used to evaluate a Lotus Domino Application environment and to prepare an application coexistence and migration plan. Another tool, known as the Microsoft Data Migrator 2006 for Lotus Domino, which is still in development, lets users take some of those applications and then easily migrate its data to SharePoint. "That capability will grow over time," Thompson said. Joel Stidley, a senior solutions engineer at Data Return, in Texas, which provides strategic enterprise IT operations services and is an early adopter of the product through the Exchange TAP (Technology Adoption Program) agrees, saying that for him there are no true open source competitors. To read more about how Microsoft wants to make Exchange more like an appliance, click here. "Although there are those that claim to have set their sights on Exchange Server in their open-source projects, there are no current projects that are anywhere close to being enterprise class or having the same end-user experience … it doesnt appear that mainstream adoption of these open source Exchange imitators will happen any time soon," he said. While Stidley has used Lotus Notes in the past, he feels that has a much more user friendly end-user experience with Exchange, which also integrates more closely with Active Directory, reducing some of the administrative overhead. Next Page: A changing landscape.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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