As an increasingly important business application, e-mail can really ramp up your company's communications if you have the right infrastructure in place. Of the many solid mail solutions available today, MetaInfo provides a stellar e-mail solution if you don't need collaborative workflow functionality like that found in Microsoft's Exchange Server or Lotus Notes.
MetaInfo's latest, Sendmail for NT 2.5, is a feature-rich, SMTP standard-based mail server capable of providing listserv and autoresponder functionality from the same machine.
Adding listserv capability turns your mail server into an avenue for group-discussion mail lists; the autoresponders allow your company to automatically respond to standard e-mail messages, such as a request for company information, via form e-mail messages.
I tested the recently released version of Sendmail for NT 2.5 and found both the ListServer and the AutoResponder very easy to configure and use - in fact, in both cases, configuration took less than five minutes.
The base package comes with the ability to support two mailing lists and as many as five autoresponder mailboxes. The autoresponder also features a follow-up option. For example, if a user sends mail to email@example.com, the autoresponder could automatically send that person your product brochures via e-mail, then send a follow-up e-mail at a defined later date inviting the user to call a salesperson or attend a convention where you may be exhibiting.
MetaInfo's Sendmail for NT is based on Berkeley Sendmail 8.8.6, which is designed to run on Unix systems. This unique foundation - not provided by any other Windows NT-based SMTP mail servers - gives MetaInfo's Sendmail the same functionality and control you would expect from a Unix-based mail server.
However, one major difference with Sendmail is security. Unix-based sendmail servers are well-known channels for penetrating network security, but because this product runs on Windows NT, many, if not all, potential Unix-based security problems are nonexistent.
Along with tighter security features than those in Unix-based sendmail servers, Sendmail for NT 2.5 now sports anti-spamming features, providing a defence against unsolicited e-mail.
Sendmail allows the administrator to block spamming in four different ways: by domain name, by user and domain (firstname.lastname@example.org), by IP address and by denying the server's ability to relay mail. So for example, if a user at domain.com is spamming a user on your network, you could block just the sender, or you could block the sender's entire domain.
Because it can deny itself relay ability, Sendmail for NT can also refuse to forward mail for "unauthorised sending" domains. This means that if a user in domain.com tries to use your mail server to send e-mail (spam or otherwise), they will be denied access. This key addition reduces overhead on your machine and could potentially reduce your legal liabilities should someone use your system to spam others.
Configuring Sendmail for NT to prevent mail relaying took less than a minute. I simply clicked a button to turn the feature on, then granted my internal Class C network addresses rights to relay mail - effectively blocking all other networks from using my mail server.
One feature noticeably absent from the product is the use of vacation notices. Most mail servers provide a simple means for users to put their mailbox in vacation mode, and although this can be done using Sendmail's forwarding capability, the process is rather complex.
The administrator's Web user interface is well-designed and makes configuration rather painless. If you've ever seen a standard Unix sendmail configuration file, which is very complex and cryptic even for the Unix expert, you'll really appreciate this interface's ease of use.
Almost every aspect of the mail server can be administered through the Web interface, including stopping and starting the service itself.
The software ships with several useful command-line tools as well. ENCRYPT.EXE allows you to generate user passwords from scripts or other automation tools, and IMPSUB.EXE allows you to import users into your autoresponder or mailing lists if you should need to.
MetaInfo's Sendmail for NT 2.5 is a very strong product - much faster than the previous version. To make things easier on the budget, this version is not priced per client.
If you are planning to migrate from Unix-based SMTP mail servers to an NT-based product Sendmail's inherent file compatibility with Unix sendmail would make it a relatively painless task. The biggest issue will be converting user passwords, but there are several administrative ways to handle that process without too much difficulty.
Overall, Sendmail for NT 2.5 is a great product and I highly recommend it for companies seeking to integrate a new SMTP mail server or migrate from Unix sendmail to NT-based sendmail.
Sendmail for NT 2.5
This SMTP mail server offers robust features and great ease of use for the administratorPros: Web-based administration interface; ListServer support; AutoResponder; spam blocking; ease of useCons: No vacation notice featurePlatforms: Windows NT 3.51 with Service Pack 5 or Windows NT 4.0Price: Price may be obtained upon applicationTech ExpressTel (02) 9417 0011 Fax (02) 9417 2299www.techexpress.com.au