Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Microsoft Exchange vs Lotus Domino

I have always been surrounded by great people who portray Microsoft as the 'Evil Empire'. Most of them have been die hard apple fans. Despite their best efforts, they have been unable to polarize my view. 

When I started as a professional in the world of messaging, I was raring to learn and enter the technological sphere of influence. As time passed, I started considering myself a lot more adept to the features as well as the code and working of Lotus Domino and Microsoft Exchange.

Today, I stand as a person who has a special regard for the IBM Domino.

I don't know where to start with. Be it administration, features or stability I have no second thoughts on which to pick from MS Exchange and Lotus Domino.

Installation and Use 

Installing an Exchange server is not the end of the story. In the past, I invariably have had to make a few settings and checks as a part of post installation processes to make it work. Domino on the other hand installs in a jiffy and the ease with which the Domino Administrator is installed makes you wonder as to where is the security the IBM guys talked about. Well, the Domino Admin window might scare off some traditional windows people just as it happened to me. However with time, as you tread on the path of discovery, you will fall in love with this. Though exchange administration happens in a more Window-ish format, you still need to work on the Active directory and the Exchange manager separately. Domino administrator on the other hand is a one stop shop for anything you may think of doing.


The Exchange Active Directory and the System Administrator. You can do all this and a lot more with the Administrator in Domino..


Though Outlook is supposed to be feature rich for end users with stuff one might never ever use in a lifetime, it is yet to catch up when it comes to features with substance. One such feature is Instant messaging which Domino has had since ages. Microsoft has finally managed to include this in their new Exchange Server 2010 (I am eagerly waiting for the beta version- should be out in the second half of this year).


Performance and reliability

First things first, Domino is OS independent. Be it Windows server 2003, Linux, or Solaris; the stability and ease of implementation in unbeatable. Though both the servers are stable in normal use, I have faced issues with the web client of Notes and am not very happy about the way they handle SMTP mails.

If you want to bundle a 3rd party product onto any of the mail servers, be assured that Domino will be the serving you better. Though Exchange comes at a price lower than what IBM quotes for the majestic Domino, Microsoft manages to earn quite a big chunk with maintenance.

As a developer, I still have nightmares if I am supposed to start working on exchange the next day. The MAPI profiles and the MFC code in Exchange is just too messy. The Domino architecture is quite modular and relatively easier to comprehend. This Exchange fear has been attaining new heights with experiences with the Microsoft support (little and unstructured documentation, too many objects and involving a Microsoft developer costs a limb- you will need this in a lifetime as Microsoft does not even give away the basic functionalities of their dll's and functions). Domino doesn't fare a lot better but at least their documentation is quite structured and their dll's hardly ever let you down. Note that I am yet to get my hands on a book for Domino while Exchange books on architecture, administration etc are quite easily available.


In all, I seriously want to know how Microsoft manages to sell this product to more than 50% of the world. I don't see a single reason why a small or medium enterprise should not deploy the Domino mail environment. As I am finishing this, I am starting to wonder on the authenticity of the 'Evil Empire' theory.

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