ColdSpark offers technology to broader audience

Software designed to move e-mail quickly and integrate with e-mail-hygiene products

Message-transfer vendor ColdSpark introduced its technology Monday to any companies looking to boost its messaging infrastructure.

The company's SparkEngine is the heart of the company's Message Transfer Agent (MTA). It is designed to move e-mail quickly and integrate with e-mail-hygiene products, such as antispyware engines, and offer management and monitoring capabilities. The company bills the SparkEngine as an integrated messaging platform that wraps messaging-transport needs into a single package.

Kelly Wanser, CEO of ColdSpark, says the midtier layer of e-mail routing is evolving to include business policy and compliance tasks and is ripe for a wave of upgrades to handle those chores.

"Enterprises don't have a lot available to them in terms of making big improvements there, because that layer is all about routing intelligence and openness to integration."

Experts say the notion of upgrading the MTA layer within a company's messaging infrastructure depends a lot on the size and e-mail server choice, especially the forthcoming Microsoft Exchange 2007 e-mail server, which has an MTA built in.

"If you upgrade to Exchange 2007, you are probably not a candidate if you just use normal business applications and are a small-to-medium size business," says Michael Osterman, president of Osterman Research. "But a lot of large organizations have throughput issues with their MTAs and the SparkEngine directly addresses that and integrates other functions into a single platform. High volume senders can include a lot of enterprises, such as those doing transaction processing or those that just hit real high peaks."

The SparkEngine is designed to handle as many as 3,600 DNS lookups per second, according to Scott Brown, CTO of ColdSpark. Brown says that with today's e-mail a single message can make up to nine DNS lookups before delivery including domain keys, reverse lookups and other authentication checks that are based on DNS.

In terms of overall performance, Brown says the SparkEngine can handle between two million and four million messages per server per hour. The engine also can sustain 64,000 simultaneous conversations from beyond the firewall, he says.

The SparkEngine includes a set of four main APIs: an injection API, so users can drop messages into an outbound queue; an in-process API to integrate antispam, archiving and other e-mail processing engines; and management and monitoring APIs to centralize management of the SparkEngine and to monitor its performance.

Besides Microsoft Exchange, the SparkEngine also competes with message-transport vendors such as Sendmail, which has been building a number of compliance features into its platform.

The SparkEngine is priced at US$42,500 per server license and runs on Linux, Unix and Windows.

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