May 28, 2003

Replacing MS Exchange with Bynari

- By Robin 'Roblimo' Miller -

The company's Web site says, "Bynari makes a Linux email server and components that connects to Outlook clients using our own unique middleware called the Connector. The current products are the Insight Family of messaging services consisting of Linux based Mail Server, InsightConnector, and the LDAP Client. Bynari utilizes an open standards model for its mail and messaging server and supports, not only the Intel servers, but also IBM's powerful eServer models, xSeries, iSeries, and zSeries." And, according to Bynari President Hyun Kim, Bynari "is usually three to four times less expensive than Exchange."

Kim says Microsoft's Exchange profit margin is 92%, so undercutting Microsoft Exchange is not particularly hard.

But aside from price, she says, to have a truly market-ready "Exchange replacement" product, it's important to give Outlook users access to all -- not just some -- Exchange server features.

Kim says, "What's really different about our product, which consists of Connector and our LDAP client -- for example Communigate Pro only provides two services, email and calendaring, and uses third-party software for calendaring -- is that we enable all native Outlook functions, no third-party, we enable all DLLs, so the experience is seamless for the user."

Several other "Exchange-alike" products, notably Samsung Contact, claim similar "drop-in" compatibility with Outlook clients.

Kim claims, as you might expect, that Bynari provides a superior value, and that Bynari's price are unbeatable for what you get. She says the complete server and client licensing cost of Bynari's server and Connector product is $2099 for 100 users, while Exchange costs $67 per user for 100 users.

Obviously, on licensing costs Bynari beats Exchange hands-down. And Kim adds, "We don't need as much resources as Microsoft needs. IBM has highlighted our product on their Web site because were able to scale to 100,000 users on an Intel box -- a model 240."

The 240 is an obsolete but still useful "workhorse" machine by 21st Century standards. Kim is intimately familiar with it, and the rest of the IBM product line, because before she joined Bynari in April, 2002, Kim was an IBM Global Services manager. Now, as Bynari's president, one of her duties is to build and strengthen partnership relationships with companies like IBM that can resell either "stock" or customized versions of Bynari's Insight Connector product, rather than rely purely on direct sales.

A limpimg company finally on its feet?

NewsForge has been writing about Exchange replacement products since summer of 2002, and Bynari was one of the first companies in this area we tried to contact, but our emails and phone calls were not returned. We had, frankly, written Bynari off as a lost cause, as had several potential Bynari customers of our acquaintance who had tried and failed to get support for trial installations.

Kim says the company's management has "completely changed since then," and that sales are back on track. She points to a number of outstanding customer references, and says that not only are sales up, but that selling Linux-based software keeps getting easier.

"Last year and the year before," Kim says, "it was a struggle to get people to look at Linux. This year it's accepted."

According to Kim, this change in attitude toward Linux, combined with the internal management restructuring, has made Bynari a viable long-term proposition both as a vendor and as a company.

"We're making a profit. This is a business now," she says emphatically.

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