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An Exchange Server alternative for Mac studios.

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Microsoft’s Exchange Server has become an industry standard for providing shared calendars, shared contacts, and centralized email across an organization. An Exchange Server can be a great choice for teams that already have a solid Windows-based infrastructure in place.

But what if you run a Mac-based studio?

That’s a question we get asked a lot. Especially by the owners of medium-sized creative studios. Their teams have the same need for centralized calendars and contacts. A good solution for Mac-based creative teams has been hard to find.

At CreativeTechs, we’ve recently started installing and supporting the Kerio Mail Server. This question is becoming a little easier to answer.

Enter Kerio MailServer

Kerio MailServerKerio MailServer 6 sells itself as an Exchange server alternative. You can install it on a dedicated Mac server (or Windows, or Linux), and it provides full Exchange-like functionality.

For Mac users: Kerio MailServer provides full access to shared calendars and shared contacts when used with the latest version of Microsoft Entourage. (The Kerio server works with any mail clients, but full shared calendars and contacts require Microsoft Entourage).

For PC users: Kerio provides a special extension to Microsoft Outlook which allows scheduling and sharing of all shared calendars and contacts. It is easy to install, but does require an additional step for each PC user.

WebMail Access: the Kerio MailServer provides one of the best webmail interfaces we’ve worked with. Mac or PC users can access their email, contacts, tasks, and calendars. They also have access to shared calendars and shared contacts.

Costs:

Kerio’s MailServer pricing starts at $449 for a 20-user license, with an optional $149/yr support option that includes free updates. A version with McAfee Anti-Virus mail scanning is available for $749 for a 20-user license and $249/yr support.

The Verdict:

At CreativeTechs we are starting to support Kerio at a couple clients. So far we’ve been very impressed with this mail server. Kerio lives up to its boast of being a valid Exchange Server alternative.

For a Mac-based studio, Kerio is the best mail server option we know of today.

But Should You Host Your Own Mail Server?

While this last question is a bit more than we want to bite off in this tip, we should mention that the choice to host your own in-house mail server does add a significant number of security, stability and maintenance issues.

Talk over the pros and cons of hosting an internal mail server with your studios’ IT support group before embarking down this road.