Because of its huge market share it’s easy to forget that Microsoft’s Exchange Server isn’t the only email and collaboration server on the block. Indeed, if you’re a small business there are plenty of cheaper and simpler alternatives, such as Kerio Mail Server (KMS), which, in many respects, is just as good if not better.
One big advantage with the KMS software is that it’s available for Apple Mac and Linux platforms as well as Windows. Added to which it doesn’t require nearly as much in the way of hardware. For a large company a dedicated server is recommended, but a 2GHz Windows XP Pro PC with just 1GB of RAM should, according to Kerio, be more than adequate for companies with up to 20 users.
Another plus is the availability of a ready-to-run VMware appliance implementation, complete with Linux OS, although you still have to go through the initial setup procedure. A wizard steps you through the process to, for example, configure your primary domain and create a Postmaster account to manage it. You may also have to make some DNS and firewall changes to enable messages to be delivered to the server, although POP3 retrieval is also supported.
That done, the mail server runs as a background service on all platforms, with management via a Windows, Mac or Linux console. This we found easy to use with one of the first tasks required being to add new users, something that took us just minutes using the built-in database. However, support for Windows and Apple directory services is also available, making for even lighter work on networks where these are in place.
Once users have been configured they can start to send and receive messages straight away using either Outlook or any POP3 / IMAP4 compatible client. A Web-based client is also provided (plus a cut-down version for mobile users), the Web client having an Outlook-like interface plus support for shared folders and other collaboration features provided by the Kerio Mail Server.
The same features can also be accessed by users of Outlook, although the Kerio Outlook Connector needs to be installed to take full advantage of what’s on offer. With this installed, for example, we were able to share address books, calendars and other folders held on the server. We were also able to schedule and invite other users to meetings, just as with Exchange. Plus the latest 6.6 release features a new resource scheduling facility to enable users to reserve rooms and equipment via email.
And it’s not just about Windows and Outlook. Similar groupware options are available to Apple Mac users, added to which it’s possible to push email messages, contacts and tasks out to mobile users. Wireless synchronization is yet another option with support for a variety of popular products including Apple iPhone, Blackberry and Windows Mobile devices.
On the security front, most customers will opt for the KMS edition we tested, which has a McAfee anti-virus scanner built-in, although plug-ins for use with other anti-virus products are also supplied. In fact you can have two scanners active if wanted, along with a plethora of anti-spam and other security tools including support for local and Internet blacklists, custom filter rules and an integrated implementation of the popular SpamAssassin application.
Other features of note include the ability to take scheduled backups, plus local and remote archiving of all emails sent or received for regulatory compliance. There’s even an Exchange migration tool to make life easier for existing Exchange customers looking to switch to the simpler Kerio platform.
Company: Kerio Technologies
Contact: 01223 202 130