Ipswitch Strengthens Groupware Offering

Version 7.1 of iMail will boast new security and calendaring features that strengthen the e-mail server's position as an alternative to Exchange and Domino.

Ipswitch Inc. on Tuesday will announce Version 7.1 of its iMail e-mail server, with new security and calendaring features that strengthen the softwares position as an alternative to more expensive groupware servers like Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Domino.

The new version, which is targeted to the small to medium-sized business market and to service providers, features 128-bit encryption and a new rules engine to set rules that block spam and viruses from being received and also help administrators prevent sensitive information from going out. In addition, iMail 7.1 also supports compatibility with Microsoft Outlook clients for Web calendaring.

Erik Tijburg, senior engineer/systems architect at Redmoon Broadband Corp.s ISP Support Services group, in Frisco, Texas, said what he likes the most about iMail 7.1 is its improved stability and speed. His group uses the product both internally and for its ISP clients.

"Its a lot faster than 7.0," Tijburg said. "Youd notice it particularly with the Web interface. The Web sessions would get served up slower when people would check their mail. But I havent had any of those issues yet with 7.1."

Lexington, Mass.-based Ipswitchs announcement came on the heels of Campbell, Calif.-based Rockliffe Inc.s release last week of MailSite SE Version 5 for Small Enterprises, which added support for virus scanning, with F1 Secure Corp.s self-named tool built in, and personal calendaring.

And Sendmail, of San Francisco, which added calendaring support last month, and anti-virus technology in March through a partnership with McAfee Corp., announced last week a Windows NT and 2000 version of its Sendmail Advanced Message Server platform.

The low-cost e-mail server vendors are trying to capitalize on the complications and question marks looming on the technology roadmaps for Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Domino/Notes that are causing growing disenchantment in the marketplace with those groupware vendors.

"Ive been in the LAN industry for 10 years, and I used to be a huge fan of the groupware servers," said Tijburg. "Now I dont know why anybody would use Exchange, except for a very large enterprise.

"The administration overhead is phenomenal. Now in the next version of Exchange, Exchange administrators will have to be SQL administrators. Its getting nuts."

Pricing for Ipswitch iMail 7.1 starts at $995 for a 250-user license. Rockliffe MailSite SE starts at $595 for 50 users.

"Im not saying groupware is dead, but why spend all that money for all those features, when most people just want it for POP3 [e-mail]?" Tijburg said. "Why spend $150 a seat for Exchange or Domino when you can get a whole [Ipswitch] system for about $3,000?"