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643 posts

Ultimate Geek

#38078 24-Jul-2009 00:08
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need to set up mail server hosted on broadband connection with static ip and domain with A and MX records mapped to the static ip.  trying to decide if im going to use sbs 03 with exchange or use ubuntu server with imap, whats the pros and cons apart from ubuntu being open source and free?

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  #238482 24-Jul-2009 00:37
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Well, theres a few and it depends on the type of business you run, or if it's personal, and what features you want.

I'm a Exchange/SBS engineer from way back, so I'll tell you what I know.

Exchange 2003 has a very good webmail interface, deep integration into Microsoft Outlook, so you can share calenders, book meeting rooms, setup Out Of Office e-mails, rules which run when your Outlook is offline, is cross platform with support for Apple with Entourage.

Exchange can do IMAP/POP3 as well, and ActiveSync which is the technology business phones use to sync their Calender/Contacts and e-mails so if you move/add/delete details on your device it sync's this back to all your other devices.

IMAP works well if you Apple mail, or any other mail program apart from outlook, if you use a linux based solution then at a guess the webmail won't be as feature rich, and you will probably be able to get your mail on your phone but not your calenders or contacts.

Exchange is a good solution, and works well but you have to get good backups and know how to do a restore, I would reccomend ShadowProtect as it's easy and in a pinch you can throw your whole server into a Virtual Machine in a Disaster Recovery.

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  #238487 24-Jul-2009 01:16
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Whether you go for FOSS (Free open source software) or Microsoft is a classic total cost of ownership arguement, it really depends on how much you value your time. 

The Ubuntu setup and mainteance will certainly take up more of your time than Microsoft, on the other hand Microsoft's licencing costs can be significant compared to 0 licensing costs for FOSS.

I think the SBS 2003 server license only comes with 5 CAL's you will need to factor purchasing more CAL's into the equation depending on how many concurrent users you have.

Feature wise it depends on your enviroment, if all the client devices are going to be running Windows or the majority you're probably better off sticking to SBS however if you have people running Mac's Windows, Linux desktops and lots of different mobile devices you might be better off with standard IMAP and ICAL.


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  #238509 24-Jul-2009 08:26
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On the webmail note, on an Ubuntu server there's a plethora of FOSS webmail applications you can install, so you get more flexibility on that side. Exchange has better calendaring, and Outlook integration is a plus for some.

Personally, I'd go the FOSS just for the fun of it, but as mentioned above: it all depends on what type of business and how much time (and money) you want to put into it.

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  #238519 24-Jul-2009 08:37
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After my MS rant the other day, I will flip on this one, and say that if you just need IMAP, then use a Linux based solution. Life will probably be easier and cheap, if you are comfortable with getting everything setup, maintained and backed up yourself.

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  #238729 24-Jul-2009 19:55
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I guess if you have SBS03 then it would make sense to use it, especially if you want to sync with a Windows mobile or Blackberry device. Exchange is also the best option for calendaring etc. On the other hand if you just want email then Ubuntu is good too, but then you need to ask yourself why not just host it with an ISP and take away all the hassle.

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  #238774 24-Jul-2009 22:07
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onehundredwatt: but then you need to ask yourself why not just host it with an ISP and take away all the hassle.

The best option, no hassle for backups, server upgrades, hardware problems.

I have hosted my personal account at for the last 7+ years and they are cheap and very reliable.

Orcon do Exchange hosting as well, and have a good brand.

Horizon Pacific have exchange hosting, have a tiered pricing structure, and big mailboxes.

Consider your internet connection speed before going the hosting path, exchange is perfect for hosting as most mail data comes from the internet anyways, unless you e-mail big files around internally.

Per GB cost is also something to check until we have free national traffic in NZ, and usually FYI putting in a fibre connection and hosted exchange is a good, well priced solution with no real upfront cost.

Tyler - Parnell Geek - iPhone 3G - Lenovo X301 - Kaseya - Great Western Steak House, these are some of my favourite things.

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Ultimate Geek

  #238799 25-Jul-2009 00:33
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Thanks for all the information, I guess the only real advantage to hosting your own mail server is that you get full control over it.


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  #238899 25-Jul-2009 15:25
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A hosted solution will never beat a in-house based solution for performance for people on the lan but for people on the road or remote users they would probably see better performance from a hosted solution than from the in house solution hosted on your business broadband connection (depends on the quality of your connection of course).

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