Pros and Cons of Groupwise 6 vs Exchange 2003

Posted on 2005-05-06
Last Modified: 2011-10-03
My company is seriously considering migrating from Groupwise to Exchange and I need the pros and cons of  both systems, including nformation and/or references on the technical operation, fte/resource requirements and end-user experience for each.  

The current system has 6000+  users.  There are  6 servers Post Office Servers, 2  Web Access servers and 1 Domain/Gateway server. Appoximately half of all users  use Web Access exclusively.  5,000+  email messages are sent to the Internet daily approximately 10,000 messages are received  from the Internet each day. Our entire message store is almost 200 Gigabytes in size. We have over 300 GB of archived mail. There are no restrictions on internal message/attachments or mailbox sizes.  External attachments are limited to 20MB.

I'll split the points for good answers and will add more as needed.
Question by:cmccurdy
    LVL 20

    Expert Comment

    Do you use novell f&p servers or just have NDS for Groupwise? Do you have any Active Directory Domains in your org?
    LVL 34

    Accepted Solution

    Would you like the list of reasons not to migrate alphabetically, or just the first 100?

    Seriously, the first thing you need to ask is "Why?". That is, what business need is not being met by the present system implementation, and can that need be met by a change to the existing system as opposed to a forklift replacement (which typically carries with it far more business risks and much greater expense)?

    If you haven't answered THAT question, then the technical merits don't mean a lot, because you have no context in which to frame them.

    If you have determined that the present system is not meeting a business need, but are unsure as to the best way to approach the need, then there are clear *business* (not technical) drivers that point towards your existing GroupWise system (you haven't specified the VERSION):

    1) GroupWise is multi-platform - it will run on 2 different flavors of Linux, Solaris, NetWare *and* W2K/3. Exchange only runs on W2K/3. GroupWise offers you flexibility, and the power to adapt as your business needs change. This is a freedom you're never going to get from Redmond. And there is a clear business cost to single-vendor lock-in.

    2) GroupWise is multi-directory-service - while it leverages eDirectory, its also comfortable in non-eDirectory environments that have LDAP-compliant interfaces. Exchange is built around AD, and locks you into that. Again, you lose flexibility, the power to adapt, and the freedom to choose the best solution for *your* needs (as opposed to whatever is going to help the M$ sales rep meet his monthly target).

    3) GroupWise is licensed per-seat. There are no per-server or per-CPU charges, nor is there the any of the "CAL *and* Exchange" shenanigans. You are free to deploy GroupWise on as many or as few physical servers as meet your *business* needs, without constantly paying additional licensing charges. This is a freedom you won't get from Exchange. And remember that in GroupWise, Web Access-only licenses cost less than the ones for the full-blown client. Last time I checked, it was a CAL and an Exchage license for every mailbox, regardless of access method.

    4) GroupWise is cluster-enabled out-of-the-box. Exchange charges you more, and then adds per-server charges for the cluster servers, porking out your bottom line without necessity.

    5) There are *native* GroupWise clients for Linux, Mac, Palm and PocketPC (in addition to Windows). Exchange supports only half of those *natively*. GroupWise gives you the *choice* of client platforms - Exchange locks you in to one.

    6) If you have access, look up TCO studies by Gartner Group, Nucleus Research and Burton Group. Every *independent* TCO study has determined that Exchange costs significantly (2x to 3x) more to own and manage than GroupWise. And for no additional functionality.

    If you're still looking for technical reasons, then consider:

    A) Switching to Exchange will make your business instantly vulnerable to practically every bit of malware on the 'Net. Did you, like me, yawn during Netsky? Shrug at Bagle?  Laugh at Badtrans? No more - you'll be up frantically deploying patches, updating scanners and piecing servers back together.

    B) The next major release of GroupWise (in 60-150 days) will include an XML/SOAP interface for 3rd party apps to integrate with the Post Office. No OS-specific APIs, the *freedom* to use tools on *any* platform.

    C) In the Novell Cluster Services (NCS) environment, GroupWise can failover between Linux and NetWare platforms, freely. You're not locked into one platform for clustering, and support for more platforms is forthcoming.

    D) GroupWise Web Access uses Apache, which runs 2/3rds of the world's websites (source: Netcraft) - altho it can use Netscape's webserver and even IIS (e.g. a *choice*). Exchange's web-access component relies *exclusively* on IIS, the most-hacked webserver on the planet - and more single-vendor lock-in.

    E) Most GroupWise database issues can be handled on-the-fly, without the need to shut down the GroupWise environment. Exchange has made improvements here, but isn't as far along.

    F) Your storage requirements will increase dramatically in any migration. If your production mailstores are presently 200 GB in size, then barring any draconian policy on how much old E-Mail will be migrated, you can expect to at least triple that amount of storage needed, if not have to devote even more. I would hazard to guess that 1TB is not out of the realm of a reasonable estimation (again, barring a heavy-handed and likely unpopular policy drastically restricting what gets moved). And you can expect to not be able to migrate a large portion of your Archives - perhaps losing as much as half in a migration. If that (total) 500 GB of E-Mail is important to the business, can you afford to lose that much of it; and if it isn't important, then why are you devoting that kind of storage space to it?

    G) If you have AD present or entering your environment, its hardly a reason to forklift critical business systems like E-Mail - do you rewire the electrics for your entire house to add a phone line? Novell's Identity Manager ( can provide centralized management of the eDirectory and AD environments, providing a single-point-of administration for user add/change/delete, password changes, etc. DirXML drivers let you manage identities in ERP (e.g. PeopleSoft), CRM (e.g. Siebel) and other environments, including a wide range of platforms (e.g. Solaris, HP-UX, OS/390, Linux, et. al.) You simply can't do that with AD or anything else from Redmond, because their goal is not to let you smoothly manage a heterogeneous environment, they want to lock you in to their one solution, deny you any alternative choices, and remove your freedom to change and adapt as your business needs change.

    In summary, from my perspective, the feature-set comparison is secondary. What you should be asking is which environment offers you the best range of options, and the ability to meet *future* needs, ones you probably can't predict right now, in a timely and cost-effective fashion, not just the needs you have today. Redmond's clear philosophy is to do everything possible to lock customers into their platform and products, and make sure that the customer has no choices and no ability to change without it going through Redmond first.

    And in the modern business environment, losing the ability to adapt and change freely is a crucial hobble for any organization where IT is a strategic asset. If a business need could arise tomorrow, or next month, or next year, and you can't predict the organizational and technology changes your business will need to make to survive, is locking yourself into a single vendor (who can't read the future any better than you can) your best business move?

    Darwin was almost right...its not necessarily the "strongest" that survive, its the most *adaptable*. Which environment lets you be adaptable?
    LVL 34

    Expert Comment

    And by the way, when I said you hadn't specified the version of GroupWise, I meant "GroupWise 6" doesn't distinguish between v6.0 and v6.5.

    While Redmond does everything it can to avoid comparing the latest versions of its products with the latest versions from the competition, be sure any GroupWise-to-Exchange comparison covers the latest versions. Redmond has a long history of publishing comparisons of their latest version of whatever with a version 2 or even 3 years old of the competitor's product. Don't let them sucker you.

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