Monday, 22 October 2012

Zarafa v/s Microsoft Exchange

In this article, I am going to compare the basic features of Zarafa and Microsoft Exchange server.
Zarafa is an open source groupware application developed by Connectux (or Zarafa). It’s a groupware platform that can be used for various purposes such as email, calendaring, collaboration and tasks. Microsoft Exchange Server is developed by Microsoft. It’s a server side collaborative application that is used for electronic mail, calendaring, contacts and tasks etc. Both, Zarafa and Microsoft Exchange server are similar in many aspects.

I have spotted some similarities and differences on the basis of feature comparison between Zarafa and Microsoft Exchange server.

Comparison on basis of client side features:

•Both support Outlook sharing features for versions 2000-2010.
•Both support Outlook caching mode. 'Offline Public Folders' are not supported by Zarafa
•Both support resource booking feature through Outlook and web client.
•Both support Categories for contacts and  tasks
•Both support integration feature with the BlackBerry Enterprise Server.
•Both support Smartphones including iPhone, Android and Nokia etc.

•Both support MS Outlook.
Exchange (except Exchange 2010) supports Mac Outlook2011 through Webdav but Zarafa supports Mac Outlook only through IMAP and POP thus, the access to calendar information is limited in case of Zarafa.
•Exchange supports an integrated conversation view but it’s not supported by Zarafa .Thus, while using Exchange you can view the information form inbox, sent items, deleted items and all other folders that is not possible in case of Zarafa.
• Zarafa doesn’t support Unified messaging feature to Access to voicemail messages but it’s possible in case of Exchange.

Comparison on basis of Web Client specific features:

•Both products have some common features such as Drag & drop of items, Right Mouse click, calendars, Multi-user calendar, Keyboard shortcuts etc.

•Exchange provides limited data sharing as compared to Zarafa. With Exchange it is not easy to open shared folders through the web client.
Advanced Find feature is not supported by Exchange but Zarafa web client does.
Today view is  available with Zarafa in the web but its missing in case of Exchange
• Exchange provides a limited Delegation wizard functionality as compared to Zarafa.

Comparison on basis of Architectural features:

•Zarafa is used for Linux OS and Exchange is built for Windows
Mail storing functionality is limited in case of Exchange and some additional backup tools (such as Veritas) are required for this purpose but Zarafa possess a default backup tool to handle the Mail storing functionality
Antivirus Scanning costs more if you are Exchange user as it requires an exchange plug-in a long with antivirus software. In Case of Zarafa you can use all default Linux virus scanners on MTA level.
•Zarafa provides unlimited database size but Exchange gives a database Size limit that vary from version to version.
•There is no direct option in Exchange to import pst files it needs to use Exmerge  but if you are using Zarafa, you can migrate  directly from Exchange and import or export pst files.
•Exchange 2007 and later version supports only 64bits servers but Zarafa supports both   32 bits servers as well as 64bits servers.
•Exchange Enterprise edition offers integrated archiving but Zarafa (Zarafa Professional and Enterprise edition) offers modular archiving.
•Exchange offers limited Indexing and searching. Zarafa enhances this functionality with the use Lucene. Zarafa index all data including the public folders that is not possible in Exchange .
•Exchange lets you search in other people’s mailboxes, in Zarafa you can also search in public folders.

Comparison on basis of Administrative aspects:
•Exchange provides limited user management  as compared to Zarafa
◦In case of Exchange it is done with the help of Active Directory.
◦Zarafa provides flexible user management by integration with Active Directory, e-directory, openLDAP and other.
•Web based administration is possible in both cases. Exchange supports the feature by its 'Exchange Control Panel' and Zarafa posses an LDAP-based tool (Z-admin tool) for the administration purpose.

Comparison on basis of policy and model related aspects:
•Exchange provides limited ‘Open standards compatibility’ as compared to Zarafa, though both supports Multiple browsers.
•Microsoft directly offers Exchange; you can get Zarafa through various partners that host it.

I hope this article is going to be helpful for those who are searching for the feature set, similarities and dis-similarities between the two servers i.e. Zarafa and Microsoft Exchange. Please do share if you have some more worthy comparative points between the two. Your comments are welcome.


  1. Thanks for this article. It's a good comparison of the features.