January 31st, 2009Improvements ahead for Entourage users. Too late for many?
When I recently found out about the Entourage for EWS (Exchange Web Services) Beta I was very excited. With all the trouble we’ve had supporting Entourage for years a change to EWS instead of WebDAV is very welcome. Needless to say I jumped in on the Beta.
For the last 10 minutes I’ve been staring at the Beta license agreement, and that combined with the fact that I can’t find anyone else posting reviews online leads me to believe I can’t really go into detail here. However, I will say that overall I am very impressed with what has been brought to the table. Not only is it syncing everything it should have from the beginning but it is syncing much more quickly. I look forward to being able to bring this to all of the Mac users at clients with Microsoft Exchange 2007.
Now, Therein lies the problem. Many of our clients have held off on upgrading to Exchange 2007 due to the investment in new hardware required to do so. Many of our smaller clients have run Exchange 2003 for years on a shared server with one or more other roles. With Exchange 2007 they are faced with putting in a dedicated 64-bit server just for Exchange.
For a church, particularly a smaller church, they really have to step back and question if it makes sense to do it at all. Some will choose to continue using Exchange 2003 until well beyond the end of support from Microsoft. Unfortunately most will eventually have to make a move that improves performance and functionality. Email storage has become a commodity and large mailboxes are completely impractical on Exchange 2003.
Those faced with the decision to move on will likely look into Exchange alternatives. Ironically, prior to the EWS Beta we had found that many of these worked better with Entourage than Exchange 2003/2007 did. There are many Exchange alternatives out there (Kerio Mail Server, Zimbra, etc.) which will work with your existing Outlook, Entourage and Mobile clients.
Another option that cannot be ignored is Google Apps. Google extends the Educational Edition for free to all non-profit organizations. With the synchronization apps released for Blackberry and Windows Mobile we are getting over the mobility shortcomings that have made me reluctant to recommend this solution. The gCal plug-in will synchronize your calendars down to Outlook, and the Mac Calendar can sync via CalDAV, but syncing your contacts is still a manual process. Additionally, Google apps does not have any equivalent of Tasks or Memos. You must rely on third party solutions (Remember the Milk, Toodledo, Things, etc) for the Tasks functionality. Of course Google has made it pretty obvious from the beginning that they would much rather you use the web interface than a local client. This became a viable option this week when Google released their Offline Access functionality.
In addition to being a Microsoft Certified Partner, Solerant is a reseller for Kerio and Google Apps. Clearly it is in our best interest to ensure that we are recommending the best solution to each customer individually and not forcing a one-size-fits-all approach on our customers. Personally, I feel that while the majority of our customers in the past 8 years have gon with Exchange we will likely see a significant growth in Kerio and Google Apps in 2009.