I've been checking out SharePoint (Foundation, Server, Online) for a customer of ours, and one of the requirements is synchronisation with Active Directory. I stumbled upon this virtual lab while trying to gather more information: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/office365/hh699843.aspx
What puzzles me is why most of these steps are required, more specifically "Task 4: Create a new Contact and Distribution Group", which seems to require an Exchange server.
This is a problem because our customer uses a different e-mail provider, one that isn't an Exchange server, and this is not subject to change any time soon.
So, I've been trying to find out what the real requirements are to get Active Directory synchronization to work, but I can't seem to find anything about the subject other than guides like the virtual lab linked to above.
Can I synchronise SharePoint (Foundation, Server or Online) with Active Directory, without an Exchange server?