Push IPhone Mail Without Exchange
Unlike the previous solutions, which are all e-mail and groupware servers in their own right, NotifyLink by Notify Technology delivers sync and direct push functions to mobile devices by integrating with an existing e-mail/groupware server. That means it behaves much like RIM's Blackberry Enterprise Messaging Server, although it's not tied to a specific device. (RIM's messaging server is tied to the company's Blackberry devices.)
NotifyLink supports all major smart phone platforms , including the iPhone, the Blackberry, Windows Mobile, Symbian and Palm. As with other options I've described, NotifyLink relies on the iPhone's ActiveSync implementation to provide direct push, although some smart phone platforms rely on a client application. Detailed information about using the product with the iPhone is available on the company's support site .
NotifyLink's ability to integrate with existing e-mail and groupware solutions makes it particularly attractive, as does the breadth of server platforms it supports. They include : Exchange, GroupWise, Communigate Pro, Kerio MailServer, Zimbra, First Class, Meeting Maker, Sun Java Communications Suite, Mirapoint, Scalix, Oracle Collaboration Suite and Beehive, Google Apps, MDaemon, Courier Mail Server, Sendmail, Cyrus, UWash IMAP, and Eudora Qualcomm Worldmail.
Outsourced or Hosted Solutions
For smaller companies and organizations, setting up and maintaining a mail server might be a goal that simply requires too many resources: the costs aren't worth the rewards when there are only a handful of e-mail accounts. Typically in that case, a company relies on its Internet or Web hosting company for e-mail hosting through which it gets its POP/IMAP accounts.
An alternative for smaller operations looking to roll out the iPhone -- with support for direct push e-mail notification and possibly calendar and central contacts management -- is outsourced or hosted Exchange. For a monthly fee, companies get someone to handle their server management while providing access to all of the features of a traditional Exchange environment. It's an excellent alternative for small businesses, or even individuals who want full Exchange functionality -- and don't want Apple's MobileMe service.
There are other hosted options that rely on some of the other projects I've already cited. Both Kerio and Zimbra maintain lists of partners offering hosted services using their respective products. If an organization has a bunch of non-Outlook clients like Macs running Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard and the current version of iCal or any CalDAV calendaring solution, non-Exchange hosted services may be a better option. Similarly, Notify provides an outsourcing option called NotifyLink On Demand that lets companies maintain their current e-mail/groupware solution and deploy NotifyLink without setting up and maintaining the server in-house.
In the end, each operation will need to consider a number of factors before implementing the iPhone: the current e-mail and collaborative tool set; whether a migration is desirable -- or even feasible; the cost of deploying a new solution; and the level of support needed during and after a transition. All are likely to play a role in finding a solution. Whatever the ultimate decision, it should be made as part of a broader understanding of the pros and cons of options that go beyond simply supporting the iPhone.
That said, the number of choices means companies have numerous options beyond deploying Exchange to push e-mail to the iPhone.
Ryan Faas is a frequent Computerworld contributor specializing in Mac and multiplatform network issues. You can find more information about him at RyanFaas.com .