Escaping Vendor Lock-in: Life After Microsoft Exchange

Benefits of Sun Java System Communications Services

Reasons to exchange a Microsoft Exchange deployment for Sun Java System Communications Services are numerous, and include the following:

The following sections discuss these reasons in more detail.

Software Scalability

Sun Java System Communications Services software is highly scalable. A March 2003 report from The Radicati Group [Messaging Total Cost of Ownership 2003 in Enterprise and Service Provider Environments, The Radicati Group, March 2003] stated that the average Sun enterprise deployment had more than 5000 users on each server; in contrast, Microsoft Exchange 5.5 deployments averaged just 477 users per server.

Sun Java System Communications Services software scales well due to its robust messaging component technology. The message store is optimized and scales exceptionally well. The message transfer agent (MTA) is arguably one of the most robust, feature-rich MTAs on the market, with over 20 years in Internet mail deployments. Its multithreaded design is optimized to enable maximum message throughput, making it ideal for mass mailing, rich content delivery, and unified communication services. Indeed, Sun Java System Communications Services are embedded in most of the voice mail, unified messaging, and multi-media messaging providers available today. The component technology and architecture of Sun Java System Communications Services software enables the quality of service expected by both IT administrators and end users.

Microsoft Exchange, designed to scale to the workgroup level, not the enterprise level, does not scale nearly as well as Sun software. This limited scalability prevents Microsoft Exchange from providing a compelling TCO story. Managing dozens or hundreds of Microsoft Exchange servers is cumbersome and leads to high software, hardware, and administrative costs.

Server Centralization

Physically consolidating IT assets makes it easier to administer and maintain them, requiring fewer IT administrators and lowering labor costs. As Sun Java System Communications Services software is highly scalable, only a handful of Sun servers are required for even the largest enterprise deployments. Perhaps more importantly, these servers can also be centralized into one or two data centers, driving down labor costs while increasing server utilization. Sun Java System Communications Services software can be deployed in a centralized manner because the bandwidth-efficient communications protocols (including IMAP and SMTP) that are used between the Sun server software and the desktop client enable the server to physically reside far from the client.

In contrast, Microsoft Exchange cannot be centralized nearly as well as Sun Java System Communications Services software. This is largely related to the MAPI-based architecture used to connect Exchange and Outlook and its reliance on the Remote Procedure Call (RPC) networking protocol for client-server connections. An RPC-based solution, requiring multiple servers due to the heavy nature of the protocol, doesn't perform as well as IMAP and SMTP, which are used by Sun Java System Communications Services. With Microsoft Exchange, you end up with a highly distributed communications platform consisting of scattered islands of messaging data. This imposes heavy synchronization requirements, especially for public mail folders, calendar folders, and so forth.

Microsoft even recommends deploying additional Microsoft Exchange “cache” machines, especially for mail traffic, which consumes a great deal of network bandwidth. On the contrary, an IMAP-based product like Sun Java System Messaging Server benefits from using an IMAP design, which was, since its beginning, optimized for bandwidth efficiency. This explains why IMAP is so important for the telecommunication and service provider markets. These markets, whose third generation networks enable client devices direct IP access to mobile operator's infrastructures, depend upon IMAP. These markets also are counting on extensions to the protocol, such as those provided by the Lemonade IETF working group, to provide new services in the future.

Robust Security

Sun Java System Communications Services software provides robust security measures to protect the integrity of your data and the privacy of customers, partners, and employees. Sun Java System Communications Services supports Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption to protect information assets. In addition, a messaging proxy can provide an additional layer of security at the firewall to further protect sensitive information. Extensive antispam and virus protection features also help protect the IT infrastructure and prevent lost productivity due to spam distraction or virus disruption.

Sun Java System Messaging Server supports the Mail Abuse Protection System (MAPS) Real-time Black Hole List to prevent email from known spammers, address verification to help ensure that messages are sent from valid domains, and relay blocking to prevent use of the server as a spam relay. Support for server-side rules enables system administrators and end users to configure filters on the server (before a message arrives on the desktop) to remove suspected spam, viruses, or other inappropriate content. Sun Java System Messaging Server has been preintegrated with Symantec Brightmail anti-spam filtering technology and SpamAssassin, an open source spam filtering software package. A conversion channel facilitates integration with other third-party, content-filtering software for richer spam and virus protection. In addition, a throttling mechanism helps prevent denial-of-service attacks.

In contrast to Sun, Microsoft products, including Microsoft Exchange, have consistently been plagued with notable security weaknesses. The distributed nature of the Microsoft Exchange solution means that multiple copies of files are stored on numerous servers, making it difficult to implement robust security measures. In the event of a virus attack, IT administrators literally have to shut down, clean up, and often, install security patches on each Microsoft Exchange server, one at a time. This process is slow, labor-intensive, and costly, especially when dealing with dozens or hundreds of servers. The bottom-line impact is higher IT labor costs and decreased worker productivity due to system downtime

High Availability

Sun Java System Communications Services software is highly reliable. Initially built for the service provider market, the software was designed from day one to meet the strict uptime requirements demanded by service providers and their millions of users. With more than 220 million mail boxes and 100 million calendar seats sold to service providers, enterprises, and other organizations, the Sun Java System Communications Services platform has been battle-tested in the real world, and has stood up to the test. Sun Java System Communications Services software integrates with Sun Cluster high-availability clustering software, to deliver virtually continual availability and rapid recovery, even if hardware failure does occur.

Microsoft Exchange cannot claim a similar story of reliability. Its complexity and typically distributed deployment often lead to system outages. Running multiple servers means an increased likelihood of downtime due to hardware problems. According to a March 2003 Radicati study [Messaging Total Cost of Ownership 2003 in Enterprise and Service Provider Environments, The Radicati Group, March 2003] , Microsoft Exchange 5.5 users experienced unscheduled downtime more than twice as frequently as Sun users. The resulting dollar impact is an estimated annual downtime cost per user of $132 for Microsoft Exchange. Sun had a downtime cost of just $53 per user.

Open and Flexible Architecture

Sun Java System Communications Services software is flexible, open, and future-proof. It is based on open standards such as the Internet Message Access Protocol 4 (IMAP4), Post Office Protocol 3 (POP3), Simple Mail Transport Protocol (SMTP), Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), Short Message Service (SMS), and Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP). Sun's commitment to open standards is not just lip service. Several of the authors of these core Internet standards work for Sun and continue to contribute to the standards process.

Sun Java System Communications Services software also runs on a variety of operating systems, including the SolarisTM Operating System (SPARC® and x86 Platform) and Linux. In addition, it has well-documented APIs for extension and customization of messaging, calendaring, and instant messaging services. These published APIs and open standards make Sun Java System Communications Services software highly integratable with other enterprise applications, and facilitates migrations and upgrades of Sun Java System Communications Services products. In fact, the migration and upgrade costs of Sun Java System Communications Services software is less than 20 percent of that for Microsoft or IBM Lotus, according to a recent comparative study. [Messaging Total Cost of Ownership 2003 in Enterprise and Service Provider Environments, The Radicati Group, March 2003]

Microsoft Exchange, like most other Microsoft products, is highly dependent on proprietary technology, such as MAPI. In addition, Microsoft is introducing new proprietary protocols in the short term, such as WebDAV. Microsoft Exchange leverages Microsoft's proprietary MAPI protocol and Active Directory, and only runs on Microsoft Windows. By committing to Microsoft Exchange, an enterprise is also committing itself to a Microsoft Windows-based operating system and developmental platform that might be difficult to integrate with non-Microsoft applications. Many corporate customers have grown weary of being locked into Microsoft's proprietary product strategy and the way it places them at the mercy of Microsoft's upgrade schedule. This schedule often involves a complicated and costly architectural overhaul every few years. Many Microsoft customers are seeking alternatives.

Lower TCO

High scalability, centralization, security and availability, combined with low software, hardware, and administrative costs, result in a compelling TCO for Sun Java System Communications Services software versus Microsoft Exchange. According to the Radicati Group's March 2003 comparative report on TCO in real-world enterprise deployments, Sun Java System Communications Services products delivered a three-year, average-loaded TCO of $214 per user, versus $439 per user for Microsoft Exchange and $407 for IBM Lotus. In today's environment where IT budgets are lean, TCO savings of this magnitude can have a meaningful and positive impact on the bottom line and will please both management and shareholders. And of course, these TCO savings will benefit the IT department as well; saved IT dollars can be allocated towards other IT initiatives.

The Next Step

Understanding the advantages of the Sun Java System Communications Services platform over a Microsoft Exchange environment is the first step in gaining an idea of what your future Sun platform will look like. Now that you have this understanding, the next step is to learn about the migration path itself, from Microsoft Exchange to your new target platform. This migration path complies to well-known generic requirements and also provides a thorough methodology that covers all migration aspects. In addition, Sun's migration approach enables you to define specific requirements that are reviewed and integrated as you accomplish your migration project.