Mirapoint moves to tempt Openwave users

Messaging specialist Mirapoint Inc. this week kicked off a program that offers users who are ready to abandon Openwave Systems Inc.'s Post.Office software several discounts.

Mirapoint is offering a set of migration services to move e-mail boxes, user settings and other types of data from Post.Office to its own messaging servers. This move comes as Openwave prepares to end its support for the Post.Office messaging server software on Aug. 31. Openwave stopped selling Post.Office last year, but its decision to stop supporting the software could still affect millions of end users, according to analysts.

"Post.Office has huge management costs in the form of staff costs, software licensing and limitations with the technology," said Satish Ramachandran, chairman and chief executive officer at Mirapoint. "We want to make it easy for those users to switch to a cheaper platform."

Mirapoint, based in Sunnyvale, California, takes what analysts call a unique approach to messaging by selling a server appliance that includes a variety of bundled software packages and support for most major messaging protocols. Competitors such as Openwave, Sun Microsystems Inc. and Critical Path Inc. tend to sell software packages that are then installed on a server.

"Mirapoint is unique," said Mark Levitt, vice president for collaborative computing at IDC. "Other companies partner to offer bundles of hardware and software along with professional services, as needed. With Mirapoint, you can pick a prepackaged solution."

Mirapoint is looking to attract Openwave customers by positioning its appliance as an alternative for the small ISPs (Internet Service Providers) that make up the majority of Post.Office customers. Openwave told its customers last year about its plans to stop supporting Post.Office.

Mirapoint will move Openwave customers with 25,000 or fewer users to its appliance for US$10,000. This price is 25 percent below what a customer would usually pay, said Ramachandran. The price varies depending on how many users are involved, and companies with more users would receive a larger discount.

Openwave is "not interested in the smaller markets," said Michele Landry, a company spokeswoman. The company is trying to transition away from small ISPs, as "there aren't many of them left."

One user was pleased to move from Post.Office to what he calls a "more secure and less complicated" product from Mirapoint.

"With Post.Office you got the software, and then you were on your own, and if you wanted training you had to pay for it," said Curtis Rose, data services manager at Sigecom LLC, an Evansville, Indiana-based service provider. "We had Post.Office on Windows NT, so it was not so secure, as one might imagine. Mirapoint's box can take any hacking, and then you get things like Web mail and WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) for free."

Rose has been pleased with the support Mirapoint provided in moving users off of Post.Office and said using an appliance instead of a software package was "a heck of a lot cheaper."

One analyst said Mirapoint has a significant opportunity.

"There's been a market there for a while, and they are right to be looking at it. I think Sun will take some of the customers with its iPlanet products, and Mirapoint is in a good position to take some as well," said Marcel Nienhuis market analyst at The Radicati Group, in Palo Alto, California.

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