Open source has always been an option, although generally for the technically inclined but several years ago the big guys (Google and Microsoft), brought hosted E-mail offerings to the table that would out perform any locally installed solution and without a price tag associated with it.
A new player recently entered the market with their very attractive offering. ZCS from Zimbra.
Zimbra Collaboration Suite (ZCS) is a groupware product created by Zimbra Inc., located in San Mateo, California, USA. The company was purchased by Yahoo! in September 2007.. The software consists of both client and server components. Two versions of Zimbra are available: an open-source version, and a commercially supported version (“Zimbra Network”) with closed-source components. These software versions are available from Zimbra for download and independent use, from Zimbra-authorized partners, and included with service from a Zimbra-authorized hosting provider.
So what are the options?
- Google Apps for Education
- Microsoft’s Live@edu Service
- Zimbra’s Hosted Collaboration Suite
- Maintain/deploy in-house
Even thought there are legitimate issues with outsourcing, like privacy of e-mails, loosing control over the capability to access logs in case of an incident and ads displayed to the constituents amongst others; the option to provide this same level of service in-house is not economically feasible.
Lets take a look what these services offer:
|Features||Google Apps||Microsoft Live@edu||Zimbra|
|CalDav compliant calendaring||Yes||No||Yes|
|Access other accounts||Yes||N/A||Yes|
|Rules and filters||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Built-In protection (Legal)||N/A||Yes||N/A|
|Widgets/Web 2.0 Mash-up framework||Yes||No||Planned|
|Mobile Apps (BB, iPhone, etc.)||Yes||No||No|
|Data Portability (move you data to another solution)||Yes||Limited||Yes|
Microsoft and Google are free provided that they can display ads for alumni and Zimbra costs $2 per year per student.
Google Apps for Education:
Google Apps video