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edmicman's Journal: I want a Google Mail appliance

Journal by edmicman

With 2008 kicking off, I'm looking over my list of projects I want to tackle in the next year. My company hosts our own mail server, a beige-box Linux PC running Debian, set up by an outside consultant many moons ago. We are a Microsoft shop, running a business based on VB6 and IIS software, but us in the tech department all encourage use of open source tools as much as possible. Mostly we just don't have a lot of Linux experience, although I'm picking up a lot, and have successfully set up some in-house LAMP servers for some specific purposes. The truth is, though, our mail server has been the most rock solid component of our network for a long time. The thing is, none of us really know anything about it; it's a black box!

So on my TODO list is to look into "replacing" our mail server. It's not broken....yet (although we have noticed some BIOS errors on a restart)....but I'd rather have a migration plan sooner than later. Plus, I think that if I were to look into rebuilding a mail server from scratch, I'd both understand it a lot better, plus gain a valuable experience.

There's been a push to use Exchange from a number of users, and it probably would be easy enough to set up a dedicated Exchange box that integrates into our current Active Directory setup. But that comes with a lot of costs, both hardware and software if we're looking at moving to a production system eventually. A Linux option, if I could find something that handles groupware well enough (and especially integrates with Outlook, which a number of the staff uses), I think the cost and stability are good selling points.

But what would I really want? A mail appliance by Google. They already have a search appliance for enterprises, why not mail? Advertising dollars in the emails? They already have the option to disable ads on the enterprise Google Apps, and how do they handle that with the search appliance? I think the Gmail web interface is the best out there. Labels rock. It can do IMAP and POP. I think it would just need some way for the shared calendaring to integrate into Outlook (does it use CalDEV?) and it'd be set.

Give me a box that I put in my rack with all this software. Have some built in drive space and allow it to connect to NAS or something, so my storage space can grow. Give me decent admin tools with metrics and backup tools, let Google do the spam filtering (maybe connect to their existing system for filtering?), and all the while the box with the actual emails are under my direct control.

Why not?

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I want a Google Mail appliance

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