Wednesday 27 August 2008

Cisco buys Exchange-a-like vendor PostPath

Updated with more commentary 4.16pm UTC. Hello, Techmeme.

Suddenly, things are getting interesting again in the Exchange-alternatives market.

The quintessential growth-by-acquisition specialist, Cisco (CSCO), has just announced that it's acquiring PostPath.

Once again, Cisco makes a sound investment in an email technology vendor. Just like it did with IronPort. Great choice.

These are the clever guys who reverse-engineered the Exchange client protocol, MAPI/RPC, and the related on-the-wire details needed to make a vanilla install of Outlook talk to a non-Exchange mail server with full fidelity. Impressive stuff.

Despite Om Malik's analysis, this is quite a bit different from Zimbra.

Of all the other Exchange alternatives, PostPath has the most interesting architecture. And I say that as one who has years emotionally invested in the HP OpenMail technology ;-)

All the others rely on additional software on the desktop. In the case of OpenMail/SamsungContact/Scalix/Domino/etc., a MAPI service provider "plugin". Or, like Bynari/OpenXchange/etc., a separate app that synchronized an IMAP store with an Outlook.PST (personal store file).

I think Cisco fell out of love with Microsoft a while back. Something to do with VoIP support in Exchange and how Cisco thought it was Microsoft's partner but it turned out that Microsoft was competing with them. Nothing familiar there at all...

Sounds like Cisco wants to offer SaaS collaboration, based on PostPath and WebEx. Whoever said the email world has become dull and uninteresting?

Thanks to Jeff Brainard for the tip.

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