No one saw this coming. Cisco, the networking giant, announced today it was buying PostPath, maker of the Linux-based Exchange server replacement PostPath Server.
PostPath is best known as a drop-in replacement for Microsoft Exchange. Unlike other would-be Exchange competitors Scalix and Lotus Domino/Notes, which use a Outlook-compatible Mail Application Programming Interface (MAPI) on the client PC, PostPath actually reverse-engineered Microsoft’s MAPI and Active Directory (AD) protocols. This means that, from the network and Windows PC’s viewpoint, PostPath actually appears to be an Exchange server.
While PostPath is the only Exchange challenger that has used reverse-engineering to challenge Microsoft, its approach may be adopted by other open source companies. When the European Commission forced Microsoft to open up the Common Internet File System (CIFS) and AD protocols, it also forced the company to open up the MAPI protocols.
An open source project called OpenChange is now working with Samba using this information to build open source implementations of Microsoft Exchange Server and Exchange protocols. No commercial open source business is currently following up on OpenChange’s efforts, though, according to Sarah Radicati, CEO of The Radicati Group.