Carrier-Class E-mail for NT/2000

SAN MATEO (03/13/2000) - Highly scalable Internet e-mail servers built according to open standards are allowing large e-mail carriers, ISPs, and ASPs (application service providers) to provide comprehensive e-mail services.

Rockliffe Inc.'s MailSite 4 DataCenter adds Web messaging to an already sound offering. Aimed at large Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000 installations, this product features a modular distributed design that supports e-mail server clustering, allowing enterprises and service providers to host millions of mailboxes in a single domain.

In addition, the directory and message stores on multiple MailSite 4 DataCenter servers can use a central, shared Microsoft SQL Server, allowing organizations to integrate membership databases and database-driven Web sites with e-mail services. MailSite also supports intermittent dial-up connections that can transfer e-mail between a central office and remote offices. These features make MailSite 4 DataCenter a very good choice for both small and large organizations.

Comprehensive feature set

MailSite 4 DataCenter's standard e-mail features include mailing lists, anti-spam, auto-forwarding, auto-replying, message size and mailbox limitations, aliases, and archiving. The integrated list server function is comprehensive, allowing you to use multiple moderators, limit message size, and archive messages on the Web. The anti-spam features are state-of-the-art, denying messages from specific domains or originators from domains that don't appear in the DNS. In addition, it can limit the number of recipients for a message, reducing the impact of chain mail. The auto-reply function can either automatically send a response to messages sent to a generic sales mailbox or to users on vacation.

The new Web-based messaging platform, called MailSite Express, makes MailSite 4 DataCenter a complete end-to-end e-mail solution. Although MailSite 4 DataCenter is designed to work with many different clients, including Eudora, Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft Outlook, Netscape Messenger, and Pegasus, MailSite Express offers Web-based access to individual MailSite mailboxes through Internet Explorer 4.0 (and later) and Netscape Navigator 4.0 (and later), giving users access to their mail anytime, anywhere. I found MailSite Express to be a very capable Web-messaging platform. The ability to brand the MailSite 4 Express interface is a nice option for e-mail service providers that want to give it the look and feel of their Web site. One additional feature worth noting is the international capability of the interface: A switch in MailSite Express allows you to determine the language used in that particular installation.

Guided installation

MailSite 4 DataCenter is not an entry-level mail solution, as setting up and configuring the software requires an experienced mail administrator. For example, to begin the installation process you need to have an active primary domain controller and ensure that the DNS is configured and can properly resolve the IP address of the server on which you plan to install MailSite 4 DataCenter. But thanks to an installation wizard that steps you through the installation process, and thorough documentation provided in Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat formats, I had no difficulty getting the software installed and up and running in less than 20 minutes.

Straightforward configuration screens allow you to set your primary e-mail domain (other domains, including virtual domains, can be created later), specify a mail spool directory, and so on, and I was able to double-check my configuration settings in a summary screen. After rebooting, I was able to begin creating mailboxes and mailing lists, as well as configure other mail server options to tailor my test environment.

MailSite 4 DataCenter is a very good product that provides highly scalable and highly reliable mail service for large carriers, be they enterprises, ISPs, or ASPs. Although it provides Unix-like dependability, MailSite is engineered for the less expensive Windows NT/2000 environment.

Gregory Michael, a former e-mail manager, is now a systems architect in Minneapolis. He can be reached at gjmichael@mediaone.net.

THE BOTTOM LINE: VERY GOOD

MailSite 4 DataCenter

Business Case: MailSite 4 DataCenter offers enterprises and service providers the scalability of a Unix solution on the less expensive Windows NT/2000 platform. Still, it is not an entry-level product; configuration requires an experienced mail engineer.

Technology Case: This highly scalable solution includes all essential mail server functions. MailSite 4 adds Web mail, server clustering, and the ability to integrate its directory service with Microsoft SQL Server.

Pros:

+ Web mail, anti-spam tools, and mailing lists among its comprehensive features+ Scales to millions of users+ Excellent documentationCons:

- May be less secure than proprietary systems- Technical expertise needed for proper configuration of mailbox securityCost: $1 per userPlatform(s): Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000Rockliffe Inc.; San Jose, Calif.; (408) 554-0766 www.rockliffe.com.

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