Softalk Collaboration Suite comparison with Exchange Server
Softalk Collaboration Suite is a viable alternative to Microsoft Exchange Server. It competes on price, ease of use and deployment. It also offers more useable features for organizations wanting to collaborate using Outlook as their client. This document highlights the reasons why Softalk Collaboration Suite should make the perfect Exchange Alternative for your organization and outlines the benefits that it has over Exchange Server.
Collaboration Suite competes with Exchange Server on price at all levels, even
with the Small Business Server offering. Microsoft Small Business Server caters
for businesses with fewer than 75 users. At 5 users, Small Business Server
costs $599, compared to $450 for Softalk Collaboration Suite. At 75 users, the
differential is even greater. 75 users of Small Business Server costs $7350, whereas 100 users of Softalk Collaboration
Suite costs just $2750. It is after 75 users that Exchange Server becomes even
more expensive. The base price of Exchange Server (standard edition) is $699
and then each
The prices for Softalk Collaboration Suite include 60 days of maintenance, 1 year of antivirus updates (for WorkgroupMail) and 1 year of anti-spam updates (for WorkgroupMail). Maintenance includes latest versions at no extra cost and free email support, something that is not readily available through Microsoft or its distributors and resellers without additional payment.
The prices for Exchange Server and Small Business Server are standard editions only and do not include Microsoft's Software Assurance (which offers latest versions at no extra cost). Software Assurance costs an additional 50% on top of the prices quoted above for Exchange Server and Small Business Server.
Deployment and Ease of Use
Exchange Server was designed for large corporate companies not small to medium sized businesses. Microsoft's Exchange Solution for smaller companies is the same Exchange Server that is used by corporate companies, but with artificial limits applied, such as limitations on the number of users and limitations on the maximum size of the message database. Consequently, when a small company tries to implement Exchange within their organization, they are presented with an over-complicated user interface that requires an incredible amount of expertise to administer. In order to deploy Exchange Server 2003, it is necessary to be running an Active Directory under Windows 2003 Server, which has been prepared for Exchange Server. This may be acceptable for most larger organizations, but for many smaller sized businesses, this would require significant expertise and/or additional consultancy and in some cases additional hardware procurement in order to prepare their environment for an Exchange Server installation. This underlines the case for an alternative to Exchange Server.
Softalk Collaboration Suite does not need a dedicated server on which to run, whereas Exchange Server does. This means that a small company can use the computer that runs Softalk Collaboration Suite as a client computer, instantly reducing expenditure. WorkgroupMail and WorkgroupShare servers can run on Windows 2000/XP Home/XP Pro/2003 computers. The exception is Softalk Organizer, which requires IIS with the .NET Framework installed. This precludes XP Home, which cannot run IIS. Softalk Organizer can run on XP Pro, Windows 2000 (professional and server) and Windows 2003 Server. The client computers can be any Windows operating system from Windows 98 upwards. No Active Directory is required for any of the components of the Softalk Collaboration Suite, but if one does exist, Softalk Collaboration Suite integrates well with it.
Configuring Exchange Server is not an easy task in itself. Any problems will require a level of expertise above most small companies. Softalk Collaboration Suite has been designed to be simple to use and administer, so that any non-technical person can configure and use the product easily and efficiently.
Usability and features
Softalk Collaboration Suite includes several features that are essential to small and medium sized businesses, that Exchange Server does not include. Anti-virus protection of email is one such feature. You must purchase additional 3rd party software in order to virus check emails in Exchange Server. Softalk Collaboration Suite includes anti-virus as part of the core components of the suite. Likewise, server based anti-spam is a feature missing from Exchange Server. Softalk Collaboration Suite includes this.
Group views of calendars is an important feature for collaboration. This is something that is not implemented well in Exchange Server. Softalk Organizer presents this nicely in the Calendar view.
Content control is an important feature for any mail server. Rule-based content control features are available in abundance in WorkgroupMail. They are not available in Exchange Server. It is necessary to purchase third party software in order to provide any form of content control.
There is no archiving capability in Exchange Server. Archiving messages is important to comply with the regulatory requirements such as Sarbanes-Oxley Act and others. According to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and SEC regulations, all public companies must archive all correspondence for 7 years for audit and review purposes. This includes the sending and receiving of email. WorkgroupMail provides excellent archiving capabilities with full searching and retrieval capabilities.
Softalk Collaboration Suite provides the same core collaboration and messaging features provided by Exchange Server. It is as scalable, allowing up to 2000 users on a single server, but competes very well on price, with no recurring costs, except for annual maintenance, which is far cheaper than Microsoft's software assurance. Additionally, Softalk Collaboration Suite provides more usable functionality, such as shared information folders organized by user, better group views, anti-virus and anti-spam features, content control and message archiving. Last, but not least, the system requirements for Softalk Collaboration Suite are much lower than Exchange Server, reducing the amount of capital outlay required by the organization. In summary Softalk Collaboration Suite offers a very real Exchange alternative for your organization.