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Gartner: Microsoft 'Dominates' E-Mail Market

Microsoft received a "strong positive" rating in a study of e-mail system vendors by Gartner, which was released in mid-August.

The study, "MarketScope for E-mail Systems," examined eight providers of e-mail systems or services, based on Gartner client interest. However, there are about 25 vendors to choose from overall, the study noted. Microsoft "dominates the e-mail and calendar system market," according to Gartner. It received the highest rating in the study.

Trailing Microsoft with "positive" ratings were Google, IBM, Mirapoint, Novell and VMware's Zimbra (acquired this year from Yahoo).

The study also looked at the Linux-based Xandra Scalix e-mail system, giving it a "promising" rating. However, Gartner indicated that Xandra Scalix will face competition from low-price cloud e-mail offerings from some of the larger e-mail vendors.

The Open-Xchange e-mail system received a "caution" rating in the study because the company is transitioning it from a premises-based system to a cloud e-mail service.

Gartner described Google, with its hosted-only Google Apps Premier Edition (GAPE) offering, as Microsoft's "closest e-mail competitor." However, GAPE use represents less than one percent of the entire market for enterprise e-mail. Microsoft has already moved to address the Google threat somewhat by cutting its hosted Exchange e-mail service pricing to $5 per user per month. Microsoft simultaneously bumped up the e-mail storage capacity of the service to 25 GB per user, equaling the storage space offered by GAPE.

Google is the only vendor in the report that has an entirely cloud-based e-mail offering. Still, the use of hosted e-mail services is part of a nascent, but growing, industry trend. Gartner estimates that just two percent to three percent of the market currently uses a cloud e-mail service, but that figure is expected to increase to 10 percent by the end of this year.

IBM and Novell both face stiff competition from Microsoft, according to the report. Gartner cites "defections" to Microsoft Exchange from IBM's Lotus Notes/Domino e-mail offerings. However, IBM is competing in the hosted e-mail space, having rolled out its LotusLive service. Gartner expects IBM to start offering "Project Vulcan" collaboration services, possibly next year.

Novell's GroupWise e-mail offering "is being slowly eroded by Microsoft Exchange," according to the report. As for Novell's cloud-based e-mail strategy, that remains "unclear," Gartner said. Novell's collaboration service is called "Pulse," which functions independently of GroupWise.

VMware integrated the newly acquired Zimbra e-mail service with its vSphere virtualization platform in August. Gartner's report indicated that this service is being marketed to organizations using the Windows stack with less than 1,000 seats. It's also being offered to hosters that want to offer cloud e-mail services.

Gartner recommends that organizations consider the pros and cons of moving to cloud-based e-mail, although the report doesn't provide such details. Another consideration for organizations is the value of using social networking and collaboration apps, "given that the incumbent e-mail vendor is the leading candidate to supply these services."

The report omitted Oracle's Beehive because it has not shown success in the market. It also eliminated Cisco's WebEx e-mail service because it hasn't yet entered the market.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.