Microsoft, Novell e-mail programs deliver for feds

Microsoft, Novell e-mail programs deliver for feds

Exchange Server holds biggest slice in survey, while users give GroupWise an edge in quality

By Richard W. Walker

GCN Staff

On the federal enterprise e-mail software and groupware playing field, it's Microsoft Exchange Server vs. Novell GroupWise.

But which is the champion?

Both, really.

On overall quality of features, users in a recent GCN survey reported that they like GroupWise a little better. But it's close. Based on federal market share alone, Exchange Server wins'by a striking margin.

Microsoft Corp., with 65 percent of the installed base, owns the lion's share of the market, compared with Novell's 18 percent share.

This year's survey of enterprise e-mail software and groupware reveals a difference in the installed base for such products compared with 1997, when GCN last surveyed users of network software about these products.

GroupWise, although lagging far behind Exchange Server, has improved its federal market base since the last survey. Three years ago, GroupWise had an 11 percent slice of the government e-mail pie.

Exchange Server also has gained a significantly larger portion of the market during the same period, while other e-mail and groupware vendors, such as Lotus Corp., have seen their shares shrink.

Three years ago, Exchange Server held 26 percent of the market, although Microsoft Mail Server added a 10 percent piece to the company's share. In this year's survey, Mail Server's share dipped to 4 percent.

Lotus cc:Mail, unranked in the latest survey, represented 22 percent of the installed base in 1997. In this year's survey, 8 percent of respondents said they use cc:Mail.

But another 8 percent of respondents said they use Lotus Notes, up from about 3 percent in 1997.

No more

Beyond Mail, a discontinued product from Banyan Worldwide of Westborough, Mass., has vanished from the installed base GCN surveyed. Three years ago, it had a 4 percent slice of the federal market.

There also has been a shake-up in the features ratings since the 1997 survey. In the earlier survey, respondents gave Exchange Server the top ranking for the quality of its features, followed by Mail Server, cc:Mail and GroupWise.

In the latest survey, because Exchange Server and GroupWise so completely dominated the installed base, GCN included only those two programs in the feature ratings.

GroupWise, which edged past Exchange in the features rankings, generally got a thumbs-up from survey respondents.

But a management information systems director at a Pennsylvania agency wanted better management features from GroupWise.

'There are times, particularly when an employee leaves, when we need to be able to go in and manipulate the mailboxes, move things around or go hunting for something,' the systems director said. 'There is not a clean tool [in GroupWise] to do that.'

'There are ways to do it, but it involves going in and activating an employee account, manipulating the mailbox and then closing the account again,' he said. 'I think it would be more effective if there was an administrative tool, obviously with some audit to it, that would allow us to go in and manipulate the mailboxes.'

Otherwise, the user said he liked GroupWise. 'We find it to be a very good, very stable program,' he said. 'Really, we're very pleased with it.'

Microsoft Exchange Server users GCN talked to also had few complaints.

'Everybody seems to be real happy with it,' said Paul Hollandsworth, an industrial engineer at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Virginia. He runs Exchange under Microsoft Windows NT on a 7,200-node network.

Shipyard users access Exchange Server via Microsoft Outlook, which Hollandsworth, who sends and receives large amounts of e-mail, said he also likes.

'The interface is fairly straightforward, and it's easy to bring in files from other applications,' he said.

At the Army Transportation Command in Newport News, Va., Pete Manoro, a senior highway engineer, said Exchange Server has worked just fine in the six years that the organization has been using it.

'I don't know if [another enterprise e-mail program] would work better or worse,' he said. 'All I've ever known and used is Microsoft Exchange and Outlook.'

Survey results
OverallSecurityUser interfaceSoftware platformsClient platformsSMTP and MIME featuresNetwork protocolsManagement features
Novell GroupWise60100886375756350
Microsoft Exchange5550815557745934

SchedulingApplication integrationWeb featuresPriceGroupware featuresX.500-readyContact management
Novell GroupWise38753863752513
Microsoft Exchange50615846426147

The GCN Reader Survey is designed to give federal buyers detailed quantitative data on specific computer and communications products, as graded on a scale of 100 by federal users.

The survey also measures the relative importance of product attributes in selection of those products.

This survey on enterprise e-mail software and groupware was part of a questionnaire mailed or faxed to federal readers of GCN who on their subscription application forms identified themselves as buyers and users of enterprise e-mail software and groupware. We received 51 responses to this part of the questionnaire.

The products in the survey were chosen because they represent the bulk of such brands used in government. This report lists results only for those brands that received at least nine responses. The overall rating for each company was developed by averaging all individual attribute scores.

Top scores are in red.


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