Microsoft's Exchange Isn't the Only Way to Get the Message Out

Updated offerings from Gordano and IBM Lotus prove compelling alternatives to Microsoft Exchange Server.

Many people in the business world think there is only one answer to the question, "What is your e-mail and collaboration system?" Microsoft Exchange Server.

However, despite its dominance, there are plenty of options out there for companies looking for a robust and dynamic messaging platform that isn't Exchange. These options range from massive enterprise-class systems to inexpensive and simple solutions for smaller companies.

Some of these competitors also have seen more recent and more significant upgrades than Exchange has, and do a much better job taking advantage of Web 2.0 and some of the other newer technologies that have changed collaboration in recent years.

While growing and new businesses have no choice but to look into a new messaging platform, many other businesses may decide that in today's economic situation, it doesn't make sense to invest in upgrades, never mind moving to another system.

However, in a world where collaboration and interconnectedness is increasingly important, what is the cost of staying on an older and less capable messaging platform? Also, many of the new wave of "Exchange replacement" systems can run on comparatively modest server hardware, letting businesses get new life out of servers that can't run the latest versions of Exchange.

For this eWEEK Special Report, I look at two messaging and collaboration platforms that offer a compelling alternative to Microsoft Exchange.

One, IBM's Lotus Notes and Domino, is probably the classic enterprise-class competitor to Exchange and is still popular in large companies. The other, Gordano Messaging Suite, is representative of the newer wave of messaging solutions that are typically more nimble and cost-effective than their older competitors and often more capable of quickly leveraging and integrating with newer technologies, such as Web 2.0.

In a related article, I look at the increasing attractiveness of cloud-based messaging and collaboration solutions, of which Google Gmail and Apps is probably the best known. These new cloud-based options offer a simple and inexpensive option for new businesses.