Moving away from Exchange

As part of the work I do for a cluster of companies based in Stoke-on-Trent, I am trying to bring the amount of technologies that the businesses uses under a smaller umbrella. As such, the recruitment company was using Microsoft Exchange for mail and calendaring. To bring the company in line with the rest of the group (and to distance myself from Microsoft support), I wanted to go open source as much as possible but knew there was nothing as powerful Exchange so coming up with an equally simple solution was going to be a challenge.

The emails for the rest of the group run on a postfix/courier stack that has always worked well for me. So the first thing was to offload the emails for the recruitment company to this stack. Outlook however had other ideas. Due to a weird bug, in moving the exchange account to a linux backed IMAP account, outlook did not recognise that emails in the contact list that were previously associated with Exchange (e.g. colleagues) were now on IMAP. So trying to send mail internally was failing. Removing the email addresses and re-adding them didn’t seem to solve it either. After lots of back and forth, I decided to switch the users onto Thunderbird with the Lightning plugin for calendaring.

Now, because we had done away with Exchange, we no longer had calendar support. There were a few options like google and other companies, but again I wanted to support the entire system so decided to host the calendars ourselves. CalDAV was overkill as we didn’t need any complicated permissions, just the ability to share each others calendars and set events on each others calendars and see their reminders etc. WebDAV was the way forward. WebDAV is incredibly easy to set up if you already have an apache web server set up – just enable the module and set up a vhost for the folder you want to give access to. Lock it down with http authentication and you’re done!

I’m glad I’m at the end of this journey to be honest, but I’m even more glad that a fully open-source solution is able to meet the demand of a bustling recruitment business. I can fully support it and there will be no Microsoft related headaches*

* the users are still on Windows unfortunately but thats a battle for another day

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