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Mozilla and Google — Exchange Killers At Last? 336

Posted by Zonk
from the so-happy-together dept.
phase_9 writes "The latest version of Mozilla Thunderbird may still only be in beta but already the user community have started creating an extensive set of viable Exchange killers. One such example is the latest mashup between Thunderbird and Google Calendars, providing bi-directional syncing of calendar information from both the client and internet. How long will it be before open-source software can provide a complete, accessible office suite for a fraction of the cost that Microsoft current imposes?"
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Mozilla and Google — Exchange Killers At Last?

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  • by cyberkahn (398201) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @03:41PM (#18733997) Homepage
    "One such example is the latest mashup between Thunderbird and Google Calendars [CC], providing bi-directional syncing of calendar information from both the client and internet. How long will it be before open-source software can provide a complete, accessible office suite for a fraction of the cost that Microsoft current impose?"

    When Google builds an appliance that can host the apps locally. I am not going to put my companies email on a Google server across the Internet. Google needs to wake up and build an appliance that can be hosted locally within the bounds of a company's perimeter.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      That's exactly our University's position as well. We'd LOVE to be able to provide an open calendar that can be used by staff and students alike but we won't be relying on a 3rd party to host everything. Much as I'd love to see Exchange finally gone from our campus it won't happen until we get either an appliance or software that we can host in our data center.
      • by omeomi (675045) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @04:27PM (#18734497) Homepage
        We'd LOVE to be able to provide an open calendar that can be used by staff and students alike but we won't be relying on a 3rd party to host everything. Much as I'd love to see Exchange finally gone from our campus it won't happen until we get either an appliance or software that we can host in our data center.

        There's not really any particular reason that you'd have to use Google calendar to host your calendar. Sunbird and the Thunderbird/Lightning thing work with the iCal format, which you can host on any webDAV server...if you want a web-accessible component, just use a PHP Calendar that also reads iCal. That's what we do at work...Using Google just makes things a little easier.
    • by k1e0x (1040314) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @03:55PM (#18734141) Homepage
      Especially with Googles willingness to turn over e-mail records to The Department of Fatherland Security and the FBI.
    • by rucs_hack (784150) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @03:58PM (#18734183)
      What bothers me is that there seems to be a definite trend to try and move away from Microsoft controlled solutions to ones either controlled or assisted by Google.

      Are we so sure that Google will always be nice? Do we want our online office and email to become dependant on yet another single vendor?

      Ok, I don't know anyone but google who could help beat the Microsoft monopoly on office services, but if they do become the dominant player, who's to say that things won't change in the google camp? Anyone who gains power rarely likes to give it up, and is rarely happy for other people to threaten their position.

      I'm short on alternatives here, but it's a concern I think a few more people should be pondering.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 14, 2007 @04:04PM (#18734243)
        This is a two step process, right. It's more than simply switching from one overlord to another; the idea is to encourage competition between the two. Having two options is clearly better than just the one - not to mention that Apple is also stepping up to the plate with their iCal Server thingy in Leopard.

        Your concerns likely have merit, but fortunately, if the market gets broken open, we'll be able to do better than just to choose between giants...
        • by gad_zuki! (70830) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @04:46PM (#18734677)
          >if the market gets broken open, we'll be able to do better than just to choose between giants...

          Well, we have open office, but no big migration to it. We have the entire linux os, yet windows still dominates on the server and client side. I have two concerns:

          1. Even if you build it, they may not come. Someone could release an outlook/exchange replacement tomorrow and it may very well have zero-effect.

          2. Why is it suddenly the goal of OSS is to defeat MS? Can't we just keep making OSS for the sake of making software? This shit is too agenda-driven for me.

          3. Google is a close-source corporation that is an infamous data miner. They certainly are not open-source and have little to do with OSS other than token gestures and leveraging OSS to fight MS. Again, more agenda-driven stuff but this time its corporate agenda-driven shit.

          When did everyone become a google employee? The enemy of your enemy is not necessarily your friend.
          • Even if you build it, they may not come. Someone could release an outlook/exchange replacement tomorrow and it may very well have zero-effect.

            There's something else in that. Sure, people are buying Exchange and Outlook because of their feature set. But they also buy them for the support.

            Let's say that the Thunderbird/Google/OpenOffice trifecta becomes your corporate IT standard. Now let's say you have a problem. With Google, you have a company to call, but I don't know how good their support it. Thunderbird

            • by richlv (778496)
              actually, i don't know anybody who would have bough into ms because of their support. i might be in a not-large-enough-league, but that defines most of their customers.

              the usual questions apply here - "when did you last call ms for technical support ?", "how fast did you receive the fix ?". note the word "technical". help with their activation/licensing and other things that greatly imrpove customer experience does not count here.

              as for support with linux distros - i think you can get that for most of them,
            • ... companies I go into choose MS solutions because it has the features they need and a face to yell at if something goes wrong.

              And what do they tell you? "That'll be fixed in the next service pack, due out in 9 months or so." I'd rather take my chances with open source. At least somebody MIGHT fix the bug and you'd have a fix in your hands in a week or two, tops.

              • Actually, it depends on how large of an installation you have. As usual, money talks.

                But that's not entirely true. I worked for a small company and we were writing our own wrapper around Reporting Services, and found a bug, and they got a hotfix to us that day. We had no fancy contract - we were using one of our free support incidents.

                I've seen my share of bugs that won't be fixed too - but I've seen those in the open source projects I've been a part of as well.
          • by Bert64 (520050)
            > 2. Why is it suddenly the goal of OSS is to defeat MS? Can't we just keep making OSS for the sake of making software? This shit is too agenda-driven for me.

            Because microsoft is out to make it as hard as possible to use anything other than their products. If they get their way, you won't be able to make software at all unless you work for a large corporation.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by rainman_bc (735332)
              Because microsoft is out to make it as hard as possible to use anything other than their products.

              And who isn't out to maximize revenues? Can hardly blame Microsoft. Exchange is their server using their protocols, and Outlook is their product. Why the hell should they be expected to open up access to Exchange? Because a few developers are grumpy and don't like Outlook?

              If inter-operability was an issue, companies wouldn't use Exchange/Outlook... The fact is they use it because it just works.
          • I respect what you are saying. But consider this if you will.... ...what you consider to be "agendas" is just a genuine desire to rid the IT land of the scourge of Microsoft. They're a destroyer of technology. Seeing as how a lot of OSS folks LOVE technology this is a sensible position to take. I find it hard to believe that Google at its worst could match Microsoft on its most benevolent day. It would require a major reworking of Google's DNA. Microsoft from the get-go has been all about locking up technol
            • by Creepy Crawler (680178) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @05:48PM (#18735283)
              ---Google has engendered nothing like this. For the love of God YES YES YES I would love for Google and Microsoft to trade places in the marketplace. All I ask is that you MIGHTILY resist the urge that all humans have to be suspicious of anything that grows big, such as Google has.

              Anything big is slow to move and is an easy target. Big things usually subtract the human element due to bureaucracy. I would say that big things are generally corrupt, and that would indicate Google too.

              ---Yes they're a corporation. Yes they're in it for the money. But they manage to do it by embracing technology and providing it to a wider base of users for FREE. They can data mine every second of my life if thats all they ask in return.

              I dont know where you live, or what you do for a living, but I'm a 25 year old. At our local mall, there's a door with a company plate on it. It idnt spiffy looking, nor are there windows or anything else. They are a marketing firm. They are the ones that Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola and many other companies go to for aggregate and specialized data.

              I have participated in a few of these studies (I cannot specify product names.. nda for company name I tested only). I usually am given 10$ worth of goods to test and then do a write up and phone interview for said products.

              My average payout for these interviews is ~30$, along with free products, and getting a say on a new product. I KNOW that I'm in a database somewhere and I'm properly compensated for it. When companies come along and want "free information" for "free product", it tells me that what they offer isnt worth it, and my data is worthless.

              Word to Google: Tell me how much my information is worth, and Ill pay for information if your product is worth what I deem it to be. Better yet, if they are willing to pay me, I'll list product names and prices and my personal writeups. Not all companies will like what I write.
          • by rossz (67331) <ogre@@@geekbiker...net> on Saturday April 14, 2007 @05:31PM (#18735081) Homepage Journal

            Why is it suddenly the goal of OSS is to defeat MS?


            The goal is to to defeat monopolies. Microsoft just happens to be the biggest one in the computing world.
        • by NMerriam (15122) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Saturday April 14, 2007 @04:55PM (#18734773) Homepage
          Exactly. The point is not to hand Microsoft's monopoly to Google, it's to have both Microsoft and Google fighting every day to be the most useful, most secure, easiest and lowest cost provider of any given service. Microsoft hasn't had any real reason other than pride or paranoia to make any of their office software any better than the bare minimum in over 15 years!

          Remember how fierce the word processor market was in 1990? Good God, we had Wordperfect, Word, Wordstar, and AmiPro releasing competing new versions with fantastic new features every few months, selling them for ever-lower prices and offering all sorts of incentives to crossgrade and switch. Since MS gained a complete monopoly on the market, the only interesting thing that has been added was Clippy and the ribbon. That was a decade and a half of research?
      • "What bothers me is that there seems to be a definite trend to try and move away from Microsoft controlled solutions to ones either controlled or assisted by Google."

        You raise a good point and I agree. I was just directly addressing the idea of Google/Thunderbird being an Exchange replacement that the poster seemed to be inferring.
      • by NoTheory (580275)
        Well, one major difference is Google's continuing commitment to openness. They let you get your data. You can take your business elsewhere. Microsoft is notorious for trying to lock their customers into their products and services. Google doesn't do that.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by gad_zuki! (70830)
          >They let you get your data.

          How generous! They also sift through it and host it. And if they decide to stop hosting it, guess what? I dont have data. Even the old exchange 5.5 server in the basement is owned by the company and we can pull data from it whenever we want. Even without an internet connection. And no one is data mining it for 'adsense' or whatever google is doing. And when I wipe it, it stays wiped.

          Heck, when I delete from a hosted service (doesnt matter who) I have no idea if its actually
          • by partenon (749418) *

            And if they decide to stop hosting it, guess what? I dont have data.

            Why do people thinks Google will host your company's email for free? I mean, they know the difference between hosting a grandma's email and the Big Company CEO's email. Your company *will* pay for a service. So, Google can't simply throw your data away. As any other important service, there's a thing called "SLA". The "you don't have data" or "Google will furiously delete your data" is simply FUD.

            And if Google decides to close its doors and stop hosting your emails (thus, stop making money), they will advi

      • Are we so sure that Google will always be nice?

        No, but we don't have to.

        Do we want our online office and email to become dependant on yet another single vendor?

        The problem with Microsoft has not been that they have been a single monopolistic vendor, the problem has been that once you are on Microsoft platforms, the cost of switching away is very high. A secondary problem has been that many people simply don't like the way Microsoft's products work.

        So far, Google has been very open: you can import and expor
        • by rucs_hack (784150)
          I certainly use a lot of Google's services, and I like them. My email is Gmail, and my open source project is hosted on google code (because I got truly sick of the constant issues on sourceforge). Both those things are not too hard for me to change as an individual.

          I like their philosophy too, I'm just wondering if it will be ever thus. In my experience, a little caution goes a long way. Cynicism can be a useful tool at times.

          My plan is to continue using Google products for quite some time. I'm wary of ove
        • the cost of switching away is very high.

          The cost of upgrading when the Micro$oft EOLs their software is also high, what with the requirement for a server CAL PLUS an Exchange CAL plus the client software plus the server software.
          I've never liked the whole you-must-buy-a-separate-access license-for-every-user model. as far as I am concerned, once I buy a server, what I do with it is my business, and whether I have 5 people connecting to it or 500, it's none of their business!
          I was looking forward to the release of Leopard Server, because it cont

      • I'm fairly convinced that the whole MS vs. Google trip is, at the heart, no different than Democrats vs. Republicans trip. Just behind the media scene which the consumers see the same ten or twelve groups of old fogey investment bankers are funding both companies. The investment bankers are not in it for the technology, morals, ethics, values, or even society as a whole. The investment bankers are in it to propagate a dog'n'pony show which ensures that the consumers will keep spending.

        The IT scene has be
      • by iabervon (1971)
        Having a solution that's all {someone} is worse than a solution that's part {someone} and part {someone else}, regardless of who they are, so long as they're separate, because it's a lot easier to replace a component if there's a documented interfaces between components that is mutually agreed upon by different organizations. That is, if Google goes bad, it'll be a lot easier to write something that's close enough to Google Calendar for Thunderbird than it was to get away from Microsoft in the first place.
    • by porkThreeWays (895269) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @04:03PM (#18734231)
      This has been the attitude in IT for years, however, what advantage do you have by hosting it in house? Most advantages I hear these days are perceived advantages such as data integrity and security that aren't fully true. Most small and medium sized businesses security and data integrity are on a scale that could never compete with Google. Google probably has a given email stored at dozens of locations around the world and can be accessed at any time with any number of simultaneous disasters occurring. In an SMB environment the server can crash because someone tripped over the cord. It's much more fragile and to get to the level of redundancy Google can provide would cost you more than you could ever afford.
      • by contrapunctus (907549) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @04:13PM (#18734335)
        But if *your* connection to the world is not working you won't get access to you email on Google's servers.
        I'm not advocating putting everything local, but it's difficult for one person to foresee the needs of many others.
        • by partenon (749418) *
          Nowadays, it is easier to have a Kernel Panic in Mac OS X than an internet outage in the office, even for 5 minutes. And I'm in Brazil... Maybe, US and Europe is even more reliable :-)
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by iminplaya (723125)
        Keeping it local reduces your chances of becoming a victim of DoJ fishing expeditions. Your lawyers are more likely to fight for your rights than Google's.
        • by partenon (749418) *
          I'm curious... I read a lot of comments like yours lately (and not only in this article). So, may I ask you something?

          Don't get me wrong, but why so much fear of DoJ??? What will they find if they can look into your emails? OK, I know US loves that story about "freedom", "privacy", etc etc etc, but why do you want to always hide everything? Paranoia?

          Again, don't get me wrong... I'm not american and am just curious :-)
    • I am not going to put my companies email on a Google server across the Internet.

      Why not? Your company's email already travels openly and usually unencrypted across the Internet, ready for dozens of hosts to capture and analyze. Furthermore, data retention and auditing guidelines mean that your corporate email has to be archived and accessible to authorities anyway.

      I can see choosing not to use Google (or Yahoo or Hotmail) for personal or private E-mail, but for hosted corporate E-mail, I see little reason
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gutnor (872759)
        Company mail system is also, believe it or not, used to send mail within the same company/building.
        Strangely the most confidential documents such as analysis, internal white papers, usecase for next product ... even rarely travel outside.

        Also, there is a difference between having the risk of being intercepted by a third party than storing your mail directly on the third party servers. Especially when the third party tells you upfront that they do content analysis of your mail.

        The fact that most people get i
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by partenon (749418) *

          The fact that most people get it backward is that they don't care if anybody else read the mail about their last vacations. However company don't like their trade secret being hosted by their competitor.

          Trade secrets are serious thing. We are not in a lawless world. If someone takes your trade secret and sells it to your competitor, they get arrested [cnn.com]. If your competitor is as honest as PepsiCo, you have nothing to worry. And actually, most companies prefers to get the market leadership by competency, not by cheating ;-)

          But let me ask you... Are you a Google competitor? If so, you don't really have reasons to host on their servers :-)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by arivanov (12034)
      Since when is google calendar and the other google apps lot open source?

      There is no open source exchange killer in the offering here. As far as Outlook killers are concerned, Mozilla has been an Outlook killer for a very long time. Even with something as lame as courier Mozilla can easily work over 12G+ IMAP mail folders. Outlook (prior to 2003) caused massive corruption crashes and loss on anything above 2G (after the local cache exceeded 1G).

      As far as the usual argument about "want it local", nope I do no
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jalefkowit (101585)

        As far as Outlook killers are concerned, Mozilla has been an Outlook killer for a very long time. Even with something as lame as courier Mozilla can easily work over 12G+ IMAP mail folders. Outlook (prior to 2003) caused massive corruption crashes and loss on anything above 2G (after the local cache exceeded 1G).

        When people talk about "Outlook killers" they're not thinking about e-mail -- Outlook is universally recognized to be a crappy e-mail client (even by Microsoft's own developers [msdn.com]). What they're thin

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by arivanov (12034)
          Outlook as a standalone client is as crappy with calendar and groupware functions as Mozilla Sunbird. Both of them royally suck (just in a different way). In fact the KDE calendaring beats them in standalone mode flat.

          What makes the difference is Exchange.

          This is what makes Outlook the killer app as far as businesses are concerned. The fact that it is Outlook + Exchange as a combination is largely overlooked by most non-technical people. At best they mix them up to some extent.

          In fact, if the EU commission
    • by vertinox (846076)
      I am not going to put my companies email on a Google server across the Internet.

      Although, I would like to point out that when some companies loose internet access they are unable to function properly even if they have internal email servers.

      Sure you can send emails to coworkers... But doesn't do you much good sending emails to customers.

      Of course you could co-locate your exchange servers off site, but again... Same problem but in reverse.

      If it is a matter of trust that you suspect Google will go through you
  • My issue (Score:4, Insightful)

    by C_Kode (102755) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @03:43PM (#18734023) Journal
    I used to hate webmail. Thunderbird (Netscape mail before this) was a staple on my desktop. Today, I hate mail apps. Why have a mail app using resources when your browser is open already and webmail (today) works great already?

    I have Outlook/Exchange at work, but I use Firefox/OWA instead.

    If my browser is open, I prefer to use it.
    • Re:My issue (Score:5, Informative)

      by Frosty Piss (770223) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @03:57PM (#18734175)
      The idea of replacing Exchange is not targeted at home users, it's targeted at companies.
    • by nurb432 (527695)
      So you are using exchange at home too, and proving that its hard to seriously consider something else as a 'killer'.
    • by BoberFett (127537)
      I use Gmail through the web interface almost exclusively. But I also log in periodically with Thunderbird through POP to download all recent mail so I have a local copy. I don't want my entire email history to belong to Google anymore than I would want it to belong to Microsoft.
  • by ushering05401 (1086795) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @03:43PM (#18734027) Journal
    next generation PIM suites should be the goal, which exchange falls far short of.

    is anyone from the Chandler (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chandler_(PIM)) team looking into integrating efforts here?
  • nope (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dAzED1 (33635) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @03:44PM (#18734039) Homepage Journal
    Until my boss can set appointments on my calendar for me, and until anyone in my company can view my calendar (but not anyone outside my company...), I'll still (unfortunately) be forced to have a PC running whose only purpose is to run outlook.
    • Re:nope (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Blahbooboo3 (874492) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @04:03PM (#18734229)
      Doesn't google for domains (Google Apps) allow for exactly this type of thing....?
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by dhammond (953711)
        Yes, it does, in fact. Calendars are shared be default within the domain and hidden by default outside the domain, and there is full control over these sharing options. You can give edit capabilities to anyone, and the administrator of the domain has edit capabilities for everyone -- a feature I haven't actually found a way to turn off.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      You should look at Zimbra. They are a new company working on solving just this problem. It's pretty damn good too. www.zimbra.com We've installed and tested it and with the ability to support both pop and webmail clients, it's a pretty good choice. The calendaring is also very close to exchange and it even syncs with iCal and other non-MS calendaring systems. They have some huge Fortune 500 clients too... I think they have some extensive demos on their website.
    • by MeNeXT (200840)
      if that's all you need then yes it can.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by spectrokid (660550)
      Until my colleague can send me an invite, and I can click on yes/no/maybe, and it goes into my calender, and it gets synched to my mobile phone, thanks but no thanks. There is going to be an opportunity to beat Exchange the day phones and PDA's are hardwareabstracted in the OS and a cross-brand, unified API for synching is available. Today, Outlook IS the API.
  • no bloody chance (Score:5, Informative)

    by lambent (234167) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @03:47PM (#18734069)
    Speaking as someone at a company who tried very hard for a very long time to 'replace' exchange with OSS, i'll tell you it can't be done. Any kind of mix&match of software and jerryrigging of protocols may, kinda, sorta come close to offering approximately the same sort of capabilities of exchange. However, there will be caveats and gotchas, and all sorts of limitations that joe-users won't put up with or understand having to put up with.

    Remember, you have exchange for the company environment, not for just your dev team. And as hard as it may be to admit, exhange+outlook actually functions very well when it's set up and admin'd properly.

    One other thing: i know the whole setup is expensive, in terms of hardware and software and licenses. One can argue, that if your company can't afford the outlay for a working exchange environment, your company doesn't need it, and it would probably be a waste of time trying to replicate its features. So call a spade a spade; say you want OSS shared calendars, tasks, e-mail, whatever. But that alone is certainly NOT an exchange replacement.
    • Re:no bloody chance (Score:4, Interesting)

      by rtechie (244489) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @04:33PM (#18734543)

      One can argue, that if your company can't afford the outlay for a working exchange environment, your company doesn't need it, and it would probably be a waste of time trying to replicate its features.
      Until he's proven wrong, this statement is true. There ARE NO free groupware solutions, there never have been, and I'm starting to think there never will be. The support costs are simply to brutal and impassible an issue for the open source community to deal with.

      In the distant future there may be a commercial groupware solution based on open source, but it will almost certainly cost as much or more than Exchange.
      • Re:no bloody chance (Score:4, Informative)

        by IGnatius T Foobar (4328) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @11:36PM (#18738033) Homepage Journal

        There ARE NO free groupware solutions, there never have been, and I'm starting to think there never will be. The support costs are simply to brutal and impassible an issue for the open source community to deal with.
        Not true.

        http://www.citadel.org [citadel.org]

        Citadel is completely open source (not a weird hybrid like Scalix or Zimbra, it is TRUE open source). Choice of web access or fat-client access. There is an Outlook connector currently in beta, for supporting legacy Windows/Outlook desktops. And the whole thing is a single, easy, automatic installation -- you don't have to mix and match a dozen different programs and integrate them manually. All of Citadel's services work seamlessly together because they were designed together, which makes it unique among open source groupware solutions.

        Don't believe me? Linux Journal reviewed Citadel in the February 2007 issue, and declared, Microsoft Exchange, Meet Your Replacement. [linuxjournal.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 14, 2007 @03:48PM (#18734081)
    Once upon a time Lotus Notes was available for Unix. It did all the stuff tfa talks about. (I realize that lots of people don't like Lotus Notes and thereby I don my flameproof suit) What would it take to get IBM to open source Lotus Notes? I haven't used it in ten years but my rememberance of it was that it could do amazing things. Certainly if it were open sourced we wouldn't have to worry about whether Mozilla could produce something with the capabilities of Microsoft's products.

    • Notes (Score:4, Interesting)

      by acvh (120205) <<moc.sragicsm> <ta> <keeg>> on Saturday April 14, 2007 @03:59PM (#18734193) Homepage
      If my employer is any indication, Notes is still a big source of revenue for IBM, so I can't see them giving that up. My guess is that there is also a good deal of code in there with various copyright owners.

      And of course, Lotus Notes is what software would be like if it was written by Satan.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by hey! (33014)
        The problem with Notes is one of those inexplicable corporate culture things where the same blind spot keeps hitting the company over and over and the company never seems to learn. In this cases it is Lotus' seeming inability to provide an attractive and consistent user interface.

        On the other hand, at least the older versions of Notes did a number of things very well (I can't speak to newer ones), including security. However this required more skilled and educated administration. The MS pitch throughout
    • You're kind of thinking of Chandler [osafoundation.org], which could grow into an OpenSource Notes. IBM still makes real money with Notes [ibm.com], so they're not going to Open-Source it, but they will happily sell you an installation and a consultant in a blue suit.

      Notes vs. Exchange is kind of one of those VI vs Emacs things; binary opinions only, and users are all willing to carry a sharpened Pike to defend their choice. What we really need is the email equivalent of the introduction of gunpowder to make this argument irrelevan
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Koda (465239)
      I recently upgraded our company from R5 (very irritating) to Lotus Domino 7.0.2, and I'm amazed at how far Notes/Domino has come along. Here are a few things that have really impressed me:
      - The Domino server actually runs very nicely on older hardware.
      - While we're currently running our Domino servers on Windows 2000, I'm planning to move them to either Linux or Solaris 10 once it comes time to buy new hardware. Domino offers that flexibility.
      - The Notes mail and calendaring in 7 is actually quite good.
      - T
  • by djlurch (781932) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @03:52PM (#18734111)
    Although much beloved here at Slashdot, Google is not open source. They are a private, for-profit corporation that happens to have some free APIs. Putting Google and Mozilla in the same category is disingenuous.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by The Bubble (827153)
      Google may not be an open source company like Mozilla, but they have historically been much more supportive to open efforts. Open API's are only one example. Think about Google's summer of code, or the open-sourcing of the Google Web Toolkit.
      • Google may not be an open source company like Mozilla, but they have historically been much more supportive to open efforts. Open API's are only one example. Think about Google's summer of code, or the open-sourcing of the Google Web Toolkit.

        All of which is absolutely, completely and utterly irrelevant to making a commercial decision based on their future behaviour.

        Incidentally, those things are pretty obviously in Google's commercial interests, too. Why anyone sees the Summer of Code or the time work

    • by gad_zuki! (70830)
      Putting Google and Mozilla in the same category is disingenuous.

      My first thoughts too. At first I though "Wha? I can download google calendar and host it locally and its OSS?" Then I realized the editors are just being uninformed fanboys.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Google is an advertising company. So long as it gets people to go to Google's sites and (theoretically) view the ads, its feasible for Google to do it. If open-sourcing their work will increase the people who use it (and see ads) - why the bloody hell not? There's more ways of making money then locking your customers out of the full use of the product they purchased.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by rtechie (244489)
        How would making their server code freely available for use on internal LANs get people to go to Google's sites and watch ads? Think about it.

        Google is paranoid about internal security and leaks because what they really have is their own "special sauce", based on open source and commodity hardware, that they can't sell. Google is going to be "hosted only" for the forseeable future, and I for one would never consider an ASP or outside vendor for my groupware server. It's actually ILLEGAL in many US organizat
  • by goldcd (587052) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @03:58PM (#18734179) Homepage
    but until stuff syncs with Outlook, it has no change of defeating it.
    I'm not a huge fan of MS, but it's nice that external people can send you stuff (as they use Outlook) and it'll appear in your company outlook calendar.
    Sooo if you want to defeat Outlook you've got to produce something that replicates outlook's functionality. I don't care what the other company is using, I just care it works with my outlook (or vica-versa).
    Basically my point is we live in an Outlook eco-system. If you want to displace it, then you can't just ignore it and do your own thing (e.g. Mozilla+Google).
  • by digitalderbs (718388) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @04:09PM (#18734299)
    As a few have already stated, this is a good idea for a single user, but it may be tricky for collaborative scheduling.

    Another opensource solution that has piqued my interest is zimbra [zimbra.com], which includes collaborative e-mail, scheduling and many other groupware functions. All the functions work through a web interface as well, but they're now developing zdesktop [zimbra.com] to allow on- and off-line sync/viewing of e-mail, scheduling as so on. It's in alpha, however. There are also programs to use on your mobile [zimbra.com] devices.

    I haven't used this system myself, but I'd be interested in any thoughts from sys admins that have successfully (or unsuccessfully) implemented this.
  • I've for years been eying the open source Exchange replacement projects. The main problem is MAPI-support for Outlook.

    Products like Zimbra [zimbra.com] and Scalix [scalix.com] are mostly open source, but their MAPI/Outlook components aren't. OSER [sourceforge.net] was a grass-roots project aimed at developing open source MAPI-support, but has recently been put on hold by the developers.

    It might be fair to say that if you have clients using Outlook you shouldn't complain about coughing up cash to have them connect to your exchange-replacement, but

    • by djradon (105400)
      I'm no drone. I'm a teacher. Outlook syncs with my Windows Mobile phone. I love having a programmable computer with an abundance of free software for a phone. (If it's true that Apple's phone isn't programmable, I would never buy it). Sure Windows Mobile has problems, but life's to short to wait for a linux phone. I operate my own SmarterMail server. The Outlook plugin [smartertools.com] syncs contacts/tasks/calendaring with a very usable web application. The commercial version is affordable, and they offer a free version:
  • Why use Thunderbird instead of Mozilla Sunbird? I use Sunbird all the time...I really like it.
  • I find GTDmail (www.gtdmail.com) a far more interesting mash-up, giving me functionality that I currently can't easily get in Thunderbird.

    Maybe TB 2.0 will have sufficient tagging capabilities, but what TB really needs is far easier user-scripting and a built-in script editor. You know, like Greasemonkey only better and specifically for Thunderbird.
  • by yppiz (574466) * on Saturday April 14, 2007 @04:27PM (#18734499) Homepage
    TFA is a bit premature. Thunderbird's calendar has quite a way to go before it'll become a serious threat to anything. This is nothing against Thunderbird (it's been my mail client for years) or the calendar project, just an observation that they are pretty early along with calendars and the UI still doesn't fit really well with the application.

    --Pat
  • by jihadist (1088389)
    If you want to kill Exchange as a product, you have to make a clone, not a replacement. This is how we got $500 PCs only a few years after a time when three manufacturers sold them for $2500 each. First they made a clone, and then they branched out. If you make an Exchange clone, Microsoft should welcome the competition as it's good for the economy as a whole. I'm not anti-Microsoft by any stretch, but I like the "people power" of Open Source Software and the added security, comfort and conscience-free use
  • by uhlume (597871) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @04:36PM (#18734577) Homepage

    How long will it be before open-source software can provide a complete, accessible office suite for a fraction of the cost that Microsoft current impose?


    Since when is Google "open source"?

    Open-source friendly, undoubtedly. Less secretive about (some of their) proprietary code than Microsoft? Sure, though that's not saying much. There's only so much secrecy obfuscated Javascript can buy you, so it's not as if they had much choice. Still, kudos to them for not only accepting that fact, but providing official APIs to some of their services.

    But "open source"? Show me where I can go to submit patches to any of their core products, and maybe then I'll agree to that term. Until then, Thunderbird + Google Calendars is no more "open source" than Evolution + Exchange.
  • by nurb432 (527695)
    I doubt it will ever really happen.

    There is too much integration ( vendor lockin? ) of exchange ( via outlook ) with the rest of office ( and AD, and document DRM ) for a 3rd party to ever be considered a 'killer'.

    Will OSS choices be an option for a small market share that can do without the integration, sure, but not a 'killer' by any stretch of the imagination.
  • by guruevi (827432) <<evi> <at> <smokingcube.be>> on Saturday April 14, 2007 @05:11PM (#18734905) Homepage
    There are great solutions out there for cheap or for free that replace a lot of functionality of Outlook/Exchange. The problem is, compatibility to migrate and user adoption.

    The compatibility to migrate is: you can't just copy the data from one server to another because of it's proprietary layout. It was a bad choice in the past and it's now rearing it's ugly head.

    The other, user adoption is simple: people don't like change. I've been fired before because I implemented changes in security according to SoX! That company still is not SoX compliant and won't be for a long time, just because the policy changes (disabling auto-login on workstations, locking up after the workday, separating and securing financially sensitive data) are not according to what users want. And it's not the end-user drones, they will accept ANY change, it's the middle-management, people that have been there for 30+ years, micromanaging 10 people, and don't want to change because that would imply that they will actually have to manage something.

    I have my personal e-mail and calendar on IMAP, have done it for years. It works on my Mac, Windows, Linux and it works on any system I come. I just point my mailbox to the server and point my calendar to another IMAP folder. Most clients support iCal (Outlook, SharePoint etc. also use iCal, just the wrapper to store it and server-client communication is proprietary). I have implemented similar solutions and it all works, they have shared calendars, e-mail and all the works you can get from Exchange it's open so they can change systems whenever they want, it's cheaper than Exchange and requires less resources.
  • by shaitand (626655) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @07:37PM (#18736145) Journal
    I wouldn't consider giving my data to a third party like Google. Sorry but all my business information is confidential and while Google might be able to have more guards, firewalls, and backups if I give Google information that information has already been compromised by Google.

    I already run WebCalendar on my local server and it is an excellent program. But I would like to be able to tie it into lightning for calendar sharing. It doesn't work. First, the stable version of WebCalendar doesn't support publishing. The CVS version supposedly does, but while you can import a calendar into lighting, any changes you make there doesn't get published to WebCalendar. Lightning flashes a little bar, gives no errors but reloading the calendar or logging into webcalendar will show that the new changes were never uploaded.

    I've never understood what is so difficult about combining email with a shared calendar. That solution alone would prevent the need to setup new exchange configurations. Most small and medium business only need integrated email and calendaring this leads them to Outlook, then they want to share calendars. That leads them to exchange.

    As a developer I can't think of any great challenge involved in this (beyond not having time to write a solution myself). I have trouble believing that with (according to some EU state of FOSS paper) 2,000,000 OSS developers nobody has managed to come up with a solution for this basic fundamental and common need.

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