Hosted Exchange Services - Private Label Opportunities

There is a lot of expense in setting up and provisioning a solid Exchange hosting operation. For example, redundancy is required throughout to achieve the levels of uptime needed for such a service. This includes failover servers, backup power sources, and high-speed Internet connectivity from multiple providers.

The emergence of private label hosted Exchange services provides an opportunity to enter the market with little up-front cost. Such companies allow you to brand their offering as if it were your own. The service is priced in such a way that reseller margins of 50% can be achieved.

groupSPARK appears to have a strong offering and is one of the early movers in this field. Due to the flexibility of branding allowed, the service is to all intents and purposes invisible to the end user. The offering is designed to be attractive to channels that already have a network of SMB customers. A move to provide branded automated billing will further strengthen the offering.

... John Stanners

Posted by Ferris Research on September 26, 2006 in Calendaring & Scheduling, Cost of Ownership, ISP/Service Provider Messaging, Microsoft Exchange, Vendor Financials, M&A | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

An Old Friend Returns: Mulberry Rereleased as Freeware

The Mulberry email client has recently been rereleased as a free download. Mulberry has long been a favorite of IMAP aficionados and users who value an extensive set of low-level IMAP configuration options.

The client occupies an odd position in the email client market as it has many advanced options lacking in other clients -- such as good support for shared folder ACLs, Sieve rules, and multiple identities. However, it lacks modern amenities such as HTML mail and anti-spam support. The rerelease is welcome news for existing users who now have hope for future development. However, new users would do well to evaluate other IMAP clients such as Mozilla Thunderbird.

The Mulberry product began in 1995. Eventually the company formed as Cyrusoft, and merged with ISELab to form ISAMET in May 2004. The Mulberry was produced until the company declared bankruptcy in September 2005. In August 2006 the original developer, Cyrus Daboo, purchased the Mulberry assets and rereleased the Mulberry client for free. None of the other Cyrusoft products, such as the Mulberry Admin Tool or SilkyMail, have been rereleased to date.

Currently, there is only one developer, Cyrus Daboo, who is working on the product in his spare time. He is considering making the product open source. This would be a welcome change as it should help with new development, bug fixes, and additional platform support.

The current 4.0.5 version of Mulberry is available for Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux. It includes PGP support through its GPG plugin as well as calendaring with iCalendar and WebDAV/CalDAV support.

Unlike the previous versions, there is no commercial support available -- public mailing lists, a wiki, and a bug tracker fill in the support gap.

... Ben Gross

Posted by Ferris Research on September 22, 2006 in Calendaring & Scheduling, Consumer Messaging Services, Email, Product Reviews | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Google Apps Threatens Hosted Messaging Solutions

Currently supported by advertising, Google plans to offer a fee-based premium service of Google Apps for Your Domain. Removal of adverts from Google's offering makes it much more appealing for business use. If this also coincides with Google refraining from parsing content, to determine suitable advertising, much of the argument against Google's services is removed.

The messaging offering includes up to 2.5GB of storage per account and a Jabber IM client embedded into the browser interface. An administration login is included for account maintenance and to allow branding of the service. The ability to share documents and calendars, and provide instant messaging and VoIP integration through Google Talk, further enhances Google's offering.

This service could be of particular interest to small organizations that cannot afford to provide their own infrastructure. As such, it also has the potential to dent the customer base of companies providing hosted messaging solutions that rely on these customers for the bulk of their income.

... John Stanners

Posted by Ferris Research on September 19, 2006 in Calendaring & Scheduling, Email, ISP/Service Provider Messaging, Instant Messaging & Presence, Microsoft Exchange | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Hosted Exchange Services Appeal to SMBs

The cost of running and maintaining an in-house Exchange system for small companies is disproportionately high. This has led to a growing number of companies providing Exchange hosting services backed by Microsoft's support for this market.

Hosting companies must add value both to differentiate themselves and to ease provisioning of services. Added-value services include virus and spam protection, mobile messaging, and archival services. Unified messaging is also likely to be added to the list as VoIP take-up expands.

Apptix is one such company making an aggressive push into this market, with its Tecos provisioning software being a major differentiator. The firm also appears to be one of the largest providers of hosted Exchange offerings. Apptix's current Exchange-related revenues are around $15 million annually, and growing quickly.

An average service agreement is for less than 10 seats, and the basic service costs $9.95 per seat per month. Apptix also offers hosted SharePoint.

The requirement for hosted services at this level will continue to grow, but the cost savings are not so obvious for larger companies.

John Stanners

Posted by Ferris Research on June 2, 2006 in Calendaring & Scheduling, Cost of Ownership, ISP/Service Provider Messaging, Microsoft Exchange, Team Workspaces | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Once in a Lifetime

Something very, very special is about to occur.

On Thursday, May 4, just after 1 a.m., the clock will show 01:02:03 04.05.06.

America, of course, is ahead of the game. This already happened--on Wednesday, April 5, also just after 1 a.m.

David Ferris, with thanks to Stewart Wild

Posted by Ferris Research on April 6, 2006 in Calendaring & Scheduling, Human Factors | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Google's New Calendar

It's been expected for a long time, but one of the 200 people in the closed beta of Google's calendar, CL2, leaked some screen shots to Michael Arrington at TechCrunch.

The ship date may be some way off, but it seems probable that CL2 will provide close integration with Gmail, syncing with other calendars and devices; SMS notification; and take feeds from event aggregation services. While all that may be good news for end users, it's bad for the current crop of Ajax-based calendars such as AirSet, Planzo, CalendarHub, Spongecell, and 30 Boxes.

Posted by Ferris Research on March 13, 2006 in Calendaring & Scheduling, Consumer Messaging Services | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

No Reply Can Be Very Meaningful

Reliance on email is now so matter-of-fact that we can forget that all communication is a two-way street -- a message received usually needs a reply. In business, this is particularly true when asking questions, making project plans, or communicating with co-workers and managers.

Missing a meeting or arriving at the wrong place or at the wrong time can occur because the sender didn’t realize that his or her message was not answered. Senders need to remember that the message may have never been received, gotten lost in a big inbox, or was simply ignored. If a formal scheduling mechanism is not available to book events, one can avoid these "no reply" problems with a quick phone call or IM.

But it’s also true that in certain cases no communication still communicates something. The absence of a reply speaks louder than words ever could, and the recipient chooses a powerful response by saying nothing at all. Interpretation is everything. Depending on the context of the flow of communication, it may indeed be that the real message is I am ignoring you, your requests, or your issues for any one of a number of reasons:

  • I am too busy to deal with it.
  • I lost/accidentally deleted it.
  • I am so put off by what you have said, I won't answer it.
  • I won't put a response in writing for fear of going "on the record."
  • My spam filter ate your message.

... Janet Asteroff (editor: Richi Jennings) 

Posted by Ferris Research on January 31, 2006 in Calendaring & Scheduling, Email, Human Factors | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Summary of Lotusphere Announcements

  • SAP integration, available since 1997, has a bundle of user-oriented enhancements.
  • Mac support is better, for both rich client and browser-based (Firefox, not Safari) access.
  • Major partners--RIM, Nokia, Good, and IntelliSync--support or will support mobile connectivity.
  • Lotus' Sametime instant messaging software has lots of nice new features, such as a slicker user interface, integrated voice chat, and it will run on Mac and Linux. Third parties can write plug-ins, such as soft phones and mapping applications. Lotus is working with leading IM systems--AIM, Google Talk, Yahoo--to provide connectivity. Yes ... there is no MSN support. There will be a new general-purpose IM gateway, SIP-based.
  • Lotus is working with major voice and PBX vendors to provide tight audio integration.
  • IBM continues to invest in IBM Workplace, the Java-based new iteration of most of the Lotus product line. The messaging and collaborative applications (e.g., email, calendar, teamspaces, instant messaging, Web conferencing) have various new features. An XML-based forms routing system is being integrated. The application development system is being improved. There's a growing community of ISVs working with Workplace. Performance is improved. The main client--IBM Workplace Managed Client--is now on general release. Before it was in beta only.
  • The upcoming Hannover Notes client was demonstrated.

There are lots of good new features and improvements here, and just the sort of thing that the Notes/Domino community wants to see; for example, that Lotus is working with mobile messaging vendors, or working with third parties to provide voice integration. Likewise, the demonstration of the upcoming Hannover Client demonstrates progress. All in all, the announcements clearly illustate that Notes/Domino is healthy, and has a healthy future ahead of it.

There was a lot of emphasis on Workplace. This is appropriate, as Lotus needs to drum up sales for this ambitious Web-based rewrite of its product line. It's still at very early stages of market deployment.

All in all, a workmanlike and reassuring set of announcements. Those craving technological titillation should focus on the presence announcements.

David Ferris

Posted by Ferris Research on January 23, 2006 in Calendaring & Scheduling, IBM Lotus Notes/Domino, Instant Messaging & Presence, Mobile Messaging, VoIP, Web Conferencing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Microsoft Hosted Messaging and Collaboration v3.5

Microsoft recently announced Microsoft Solution for Hosted Messaging and Collaboration (HMC) Version 3.5. Key new features:

  • Mobile, push messaging support.
  • Easier deployment by service providers.

Many service providers would like to offer a hosted version of Exchange and Microsoft's other collaboration tools. That bodes well for HMC.

What bothers us about HMC is this:

  • Its core is Exchange Server, SharePoint, and Live Communications Server. It uses the standard off-the-shelf code.
  • Service providers need special capabilities, such as the ability for end customers to provision their own users, high scalability (millions of users per logical server), and integration with the service provider's billing and provisioning systems.
  • In our experience, such facilities have to be considered, and built into, the architecture of a product. In the case of HMC, Microsoft is gradually trying to add such features onto products that weren't designed for service providers.

It would be a good thing for SMEs if HMC were successful. And it may be true that no telco staff has ever been fired for buying Microsoft, at least for the last 10 years.

Nevertheless, those evaluating the software would do well to exercise caution. Microsoft's last messaging offering for service providers went the way of all flesh, rather prematurely.

David Ferris

Posted by Ferris Research on December 22, 2005 in Calendaring & Scheduling, Email, ISP/Service Provider Messaging, Instant Messaging & Presence, Microsoft Exchange | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

CORRECTION: Exchange 12 Outlook Web Access--Main New Features

This is a revised version of the bulletin we published on December 19, 2005. We've reissued the bulletin to clarify our comments about large folders and correct our comments about showing resource availability.

We recently got a demo of the new version of Outlook Web Access (OWA) being prepared for the Exchange 12 release. We saw a build slightly newer than the version being shipped to a select handful of pre-beta testers in Microsoft's "technical preview program."

The best new features are:

  • Unified messaging is supported.
  • When addressing a new message, a best guess is displayed as you type. This "typedown" functionality is nothing new to users of conventional clients, such as Outlook, but it is new to OWA12. It's based on the most recently used addresses, rather than GAL lookup.
  • When choosing a time for a meeting, the interface for suggesting times is now much clearer and easier, and echoes improvements made in Outlook 12.
  • The meeting attendee picker has been enhanced to separate out resources, such as meeting rooms. It makes it easier to choose a room or other resource, based on its location and availability.

Further enhancements we'd like to see are:

  • When looking at a folder containing more than 50 messages, the view is split into separate pages. It would be better if OWA showed a continuously scrollable, virtual viewport onto a large list. Outlook and other Ajax Web clients such as Scalix Web Access and Yahoo Mail can do this with good performance, by loading just enough of the list to display and then preloading the next items in the background.
  • OWA12 displays inside an unmodified Internet Explorer window. In other words, it doesn't disable IE's toolbars, menus, address bar, etc. This can be confusing and distracting for newer or occasional OWA users. Again, other Ajax clients hide these elements, and even display their own menu bar. The behavior could be made configurable so that power users can reenable IE's decoration, but it would be better if these elements were hidden by default.

Richi Jennings

Posted by Ferris Research on December 19, 2005 in Calendaring & Scheduling, Microsoft Exchange, Product Reviews | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Exchange 12 Beta Process Begins

The next version of Exchange has begun its lengthy external testing process, with Beta 1 reaching a small number of customers' and partners' hands. Before you get too excited, note that it is a technical beta and limited to about 1,400 copies. While these customers get to see the bits before you, they have agreed to test early code in production, with the risks and pain that entails. In return they get production support from Microsoft (who is already running E12 internally to some extent).

The Exchange Team at Microsoft pioneered such live customer testing more than 10 years ago and a better released product is the result. For those not willing, able, or chosen, you can expect a much more public beta in mid-2006 and the release in early 2007.

You may have read about the performance increase and scaling expected from the 64-bit database and the new hardware that will be required. We already know that Exchange System Manager will be reorganized, though we have to wait to see what that actually looks like. Other interesting items include:

  • Automatic client configuration will enable Outlook to detect and configure which Exchange server to connect to, automatically generating Outlook profiles. Rather than querying Active Directory for the user’s mailbox server, new clients will query Exchange server via RPC or RPC/HTTPs and the server will configure the client appropriately.
  • Exchange’s implementation of voicemail, auto attendant, and unified messaging (read me my email) will be IP-based telephony (SIP, RTP, Secure RTP) and therefore connect easily to VoIP systems. Expect some legacy SIP gateways and hardware from third parties to connect to legacy voice systems.
  • Enhancements to Exchange’s calendaring functionality will make resource scheduling much easier on the end user and technical staff. Expect companies that do more sophisticated resource management to leverage these improvements in new releases of their products.
  • Multiple anti-virus and anti-spam engines will be supported, some provided by Microsoft and others from third-party vendors. There are new versions of transport message hygiene so that anti-virus and anti-spam can be done earlier in the message flow at the SMTP layer and outside of the information store. This goes along with the five basic roles for E12 servers--edge, bridgehead, client access, mailbox, and unified messaging (roles can be installed separately and combined, or distributed as needed in the organization).

Expect Microsoft to slowly release information on additional features throughout the beta process. The mid-2006 release should be close to feature complete and worthy of a closer look to see how it fits in your environment. Even then, the number of organizations with production support will remain extremely limited.

Lee Benjamin

Posted by Ferris Research on December 14, 2005 in Calendaring & Scheduling, Microsoft Exchange, Migrations & Upgrades, Mobile Messaging, Product Reviews, Spam Control, Virus Control, VoIP | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Paranoia About Hosted Messaging Services Will Die Down

One major objection to using hosted messaging services has been along the lines of "What, you want us to put our sensitive emails in the trust of a third party? No, way, they're too sensitive..."

In a few specialized cases, such as military organizations, this makes sense. But it doesn't for most of the rest of us. Gradually, users are voting with their feet on the issue. The success of salesforce.com is a great example. "What, put our sensitive sales data in the trust of a third party?" is an ever-less-persuasive objection.

By the same token, paranoia about using hosted messaging services is dissolving.

Author: David Ferris, with thanks to Postini's Andrew Lochart

Posted by Ferris Research on October 4, 2005 in Calendaring & Scheduling, Email, Human Factors, Mobile Messaging, Team Workspaces | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Good Example of Calendaring Interoperability

I was working with my email the other day, using my favorite email and calendar product, and I received an email invitation to a meeting. When I opened the email, my application "recognized" it as a calendar invite, and gave me the opportunity to accept, decline, delegate or recommend another date.  Sounds simple, right?

Except for the fact that the invite came from a web-based Meeting service. When I spoke to the person who had "invited" me to this meeting, I found out they, in turn, had used a completely different email and calendar package than mine.  It's pleasing to realize that this represents real interoperability. The calendar event used all three calendar specifications--iCalendar to describe the calendar objects, iMIP to send me the invitation by email, and iTIP to give me the opportunity to accept and decline the event. Three different vendors touched this calendar object and it still managed to arrive in my inbox in a proper format so that my calendar application readily accepted and understood the object.

To me, someone who has been waiting for just this sort of a interoperability since 1989, it was an exciting day. Hopefully it bodes well for the future interoperability.

Author: Pat Egen

Posted by Ferris Research on August 30, 2005 in Calendaring & Scheduling | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Update: Apple's Activities in Messaging and Collaboration

Tiger (MacOS 10.4) introduced better (but not ideal) integration of Mail.app and iCal with Exchange. Snerdware produces AddressX to which will allow you to access an Exchange GAL via the Apple Address Book. Groupcal (which is not yet compatible with Tiger) allows you to share appointments with Exchange via iCal. Entourage 2004 has Exchange integration including using WebDAV for use with Exchange 2003. There is also an official Mac OS X Lotus client although it has not been updated since mid-2004.

Apple does not currently offer much substantial integrated groupware functionality. There is functionality to share data/messaging on the local network via Rendezvous/Bonjour with a number of applications such as iChat, iPhoto, iTunes and a host of third party applications. For subscribers of its dotMac service, customers can publish calendars to which other users may subscribe, although there is not a simple two way mechanism. Customers may also use the dotMac service to share files via WebDAV with limited access controls.

We don't see much interest on Apple's part of going more "upscale" on the Mac server platform by adding groupware, etc. However, there were a number of new products in the recent Tiger (10.4) sever. These include Postfix for SMTP as the default, Cyrus for IMAP/POP3, a Jabber server using a modified jabberd, and a weblog server using Blojsom (Java-based version of Blosxom) integrated with Apple's Open Directory (a combination of OpenLDAP, Kerberos and Samba with NT domain authentication).

For more on this area, see the  Ferris Research report Recent Innovations in Macintosh Collaboration.

Author: Richi Jennings,
with thanks to Ben Gross and Chris Williams

Posted by Gabriel Golden on August 5, 2005 in Calendaring & Scheduling, Directories and Identity Management, Email, Instant Messaging & Presence | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Making Headway on Calendar Interoperability

In the 1980s, it was difficult if not impossible to look at someone else’s "public" calendar, see what times were available, and send a request to join you at a meeting. It’s now 2005, and things are looking up. With many of the calendaring products on the market today, you can send a meeting request that other calendaring clients will recognize as a calendar request. You can also delegate, decline, accept, suggest an alternative date, and add it automatically to your calendar.

This interoperability exists because of Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standards, such as iCalendar, iTIP, and iMIP. While these standards have helped smooth the path for calendaring and scheduling, there is still a long way to go. These days, most people want more than just the basics. They want to be able to download theater schedules, search for open appointments at their doctor’s office, and add flights directly to their calendar from an airline’s Website. A continued emphasis on interoperability will move these goals forward.

The Calendaring and Scheduling Consortium (http://www.calconnect.org/) was founded recently to improve interoperability among calendaring products and vendors. The consortium provides a chance for end users to collaborate with vendors and impact how products are delivered. The group also sponsors interoperability testing events at which product and application developers gather to test their codes’ interoperability and conformance to the calendaring and scheduling standards. The next event will be held at Duke University in Raleigh, N.C., from June 1 to June 3.

Author: Pat Egen

Posted by Ferris Research on May 9, 2005 in Calendaring & Scheduling | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

LinuxWorld Canada: A Messaging Perspective

We went to LinuxWorld Canada earlier this week, held in Toronto. An interesting event, although not quite as busy as the recent US conference in Boston.

Paid attendance at the breakout sessions was extremely variable. Some sessions attracted just three attaendees. Your humble author's panel session attracted around 35 people, despite being scheduled in a kiss-of-death slot (8.30am on the last day).

In addition to the bigger booths from IBM/Lotus, and Novell, we saw email-related offerings from:

  • Astaro (email security appliance)
  • Bynari (Linux email server software)
  • Kerio (Linux/MacOS email server software)
  • Powder Software ("Summit Groupware" server software)
  • XPMsoftware ("PerfectMail" anti-spam/anti-virus software)

(Apologies to any vendors we may have missed in the scrum.)

Posted by Richi Jennings on April 23, 2005 in Calendaring & Scheduling, Email, IBM Lotus Notes/Domino, News, Novell Groupwise, Spam Control, Virus Control | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Snapshot: Microsoft Live Meeting 2005

Vendor Name: Microsoft
Date of Publication: March 8, 2005
Author(s): David Ferris, Lee Benjamin, Nick Shelness, David Via
Source of Information: Gurdeep Singh Pall, Corporate Vice President, RTC Business Group
Quick Summary of Live Meeting: Web conferencing service, formerly known as PlaceWare Conference Center.

Company Statistics

· # Full-Time Product Development Staff. Undisclosed
· Stock Market Status: Public, MSFT
· Revenues: Live Meeting revenues are not separately reported, but are incorporated into the Information Worker revenues which were approx. $8 billion in FY04
· # Live Paying Customer Seats: Undisclosed

Live Meeting

Product Name: Microsoft Office Live Meeting
Product Functionality. Main features:
· Hosted offering, accessed via web browser or Windows client.
· Presentations
· Application / Desktop sharing
· Whiteboarding
· Chat
· Instant polls
· Initiate meetings directly from Microsoft Office applications
· Integrated audio controls
Platforms: Hosted offering.
Competition: Today it's mainly a two-horse race, with Webex the main competition. IBM Web Conferencing Service is likely to become substantial competition. Infinite Conferencing and Macromedia are distant competitors, as are a host of smaller low-cost providers. To date, this market has been primarily brand, as opposed to price driven. It is unclear whether Microsoft plans to attack Webex based on price.
Main New Features. There are many new features. The most important are:
· Office integration. Microsoft Office applications now have an add-in Live Meeting toolbar. Eg, you can be working on a spreadsheet and simply initiate a meeting; Outlook lets you schedule meetings even when in offline mode; and there's two-way synchronization with Outlook calendars.
· Presentations. Any document type (provided it can be printed) can now be imported. Previously, only PowerPoint presentations were supported. You can zoom into slides. A true PowerPoint viewer is now built in, allowing builds, animations, and transitions, and full screen display.
· Multiple languages. Until now, only English was supported. Now user interfaces are available for Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), English, French, German, Japanese, Korean and Spanish. Users can choose their preferred language.
· Streamed audio. Until now, all users had to have a telephone connection to listen in. For broadcast-style meetings, audio can now be streamed out to listen-only participants over the Internet, with no phone call being required. Clearly this can save a lot of money.
· Audio integration. Integration is provided for phone conference services from BT, MCI, and Intercall. You can mute/unmute audio using PC controls rather than obscure phone touchpad commands; specify a phone number and have the service dial out to you as a participant; specify a new participant's phone number and have the service dial out to them; and disconnect participants from the audio conference.
· Active Directory integration. An Intranet Portal provides pre-packaged integration with Microsoft Active Directory enabling automated account creation, password management and user login.
· Improved meeting controls. Life's been made easier for presenters. New participant management features include the ability to instantly promote an attendee to a presenter, provide attendee profiles, lock a meeting, and invite additional participants. The Meeting Lobby provides a simple way to bring new entrants into a meeting waiting room until the presenter grants them permission to join the meeting.
Release Date: The 2005 version of Microsoft Office Live Meeting will be available on March 11, 2005.
Pricing: Prices start at 35¢/user/minute, without an audio bridge. Unlimited use for one presenter, with up to five participants and no audio bridge, is $99/year. Unlimited size meetings with the Enterprise Edition (audio not included) is $1,800/presenter annually, or 45¢/user/minute in monthly plans. There are many other pricing options.
Main Plans--Next 12 Months:
· Microsoft has confirmed plans for a next generation real-time server that includes web conferencing features in addition to being offered as a hosted solution
· Live Meeting 2006 hosted service will provide webcam support and 2-way VoIP.
Special Characteristics Claimed by Vendor: The vendor emphasizes strengths in the following areas:
· Integration with MS Office applications.
· Easy-to-Use, in part because of look-and-feel that's consistent with Office applications
· Easy to deploy, because it's a hosted service.
For Further Information. www.microsoft.com/office/livemeeting

Other Ferris Research Comments

· Live Meeting is a very successful offering, a leader in the web conferencing field.
· This announcement is significant. It covers a lot of important enhancements.
· The announcement also shows the Placeware acquisition being integrated into the Microsoft fold.
· When running Live Meeting (or other web conferencing services), it's a big help to have multiple monitors or computers running. Eg, slides on one, instant messaging and email on the other, with sound on the phone.
· This is not yet an installable version of Live Meeting Server for use within corporate networks, as previously promised by Microsoft. This functionality will be built into a future version of a real time server offering expected in the second half of 2006.
· Live Meeting is particularly important for Microsoft as it is their solution for multi-party (one-to-many or many-to-many) web conferencing. Live Communication Server is currently a one-to-one collaboration platform.
· Costs for web conferencing services typically run at 30¢-50¢/user/minute, audio included. Over the next few years, this is likely to drop precipitously, to perhaps 5¢/user/minute.

Posted by Gabriel Golden on March 8, 2005 in Calendaring & Scheduling, Email Encryption, Instant Messaging & Presence, Mobile Messaging, Product Reviews, Team Workspaces, Web Conferencing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Snapshot: Sun Messaging

Vendor Name: Sun Microsystems.
Date of Publication: February 7, 2005
Author: David Ferris.
Source of Information: Jennifer Belissent, Group Marketing Manager
Quick Summary of Firm's Offerings. Sun sells a variety of messaging products, mostly to service providers, government departments, large corporations, and educational establishments.

Company Statistics

· # Full-Time Staff: 32,600. Ferris estimates Sun has the equivalent of about 1,200 full-time staff focused on messaging.
· # Full-Time Product Development Staff. About 600 full-time staff develop and maintain the messaging software (ie, the email, calendar, directory, and instant messaging code set).
· Stock Market Status: Publicly held.
· Revenues: Ferris estimates Sun's entire messaging business to be worth some $300M to $400M annually. These revenues split roughly as follows: 50%-service providers, large enterprises and government-30%, 20%-OEMs.
· Profitability: Sun has not been profitable for several years. Sun has been profitable for the past two quarters.
# Live Paying Customer Seats
:
· Sun claims to have sold some 240 million messaging seat licenses. However, many of these haven't been deployed or are virtually inactive. Ferris estimates this translates to some 125M active messaging users.
· Plenty of Sun's larger service provider clients have several million deployed seats, up to as many as ten million. Eg, Sprint PCS has 3.7 million, AT&T Wireless has 5.6 million, Telekom Malaysia has 2 million. OEM Mobeon has sold 28 million seats to service providers. These are unified communications mailboxes, which store voicemail, email, fax and videomail. Overall, Ferris estimate around 100M active seats among service providers.
· Universities--their students and alumni associations--account for around five million seats.
· Large corporates, such as Renault, Air Canada, and Bristol Myers Squibb, account for one to two million active mailboxes.
· Government departments, including military groups, account for some 15 to 20 million seats. Many customers here are very large. Eg, a European public health service has 1.2M seats, and a North American military organization has 1.4 million seats.
· Generally, Sun's largest clients are governments and service providers.

Product Line

Server Software:
· Sun Java System Messaging Server. This provides a POP/IMAP message store, a Message Transfer Agent (MTA, or SMTP relay), and public and shared folders. The message store is multipurpose, eg, it can store sound, video, and text as well as emails. It provides streaming delivery, obviously useful for voice and video. A web-based client, Communications Express, with access to email, calendar, and built in address book functionality is included with purchase of the messaging server. More information at http://www.sun.com/software/products/messaging_srvr/home_messaging.xml.
· Sun Java System Calendar Server. This provides shared and group calendaring, task management, and to-do lists. Reminders are distributed via instant messages and email. The web-based client, Communications Express, with access to email, calendar and built in address book functionality, is included with purchase of the calendar server. More information at http://www.sun.com/software/products/calendar_srvr/home_calendar.xml.
· Sun Java System Instant Messaging. This provides presence, chat (1 to 1 or many to many) conferences, moderated conferences, polling, news, and alerts. For connectivity with other IM systems and third party software, there is XMPP support. More information at http://www.sun.com/software/products/instant_messaging/index.xml.
· Sun Java System Directory Server. With purchase of any of the above servers, this LDAP server is automatically included at no charge, for use with the purchased products. More information at http://www.sun.com/software/products/directory_srvr_ee/index.xml.
· Sun Java System Portal Server, Mobile Access. This provides access to Sun's messaging services—mainly email, calendar, and address book—from mobile devices such as wireless PDA and cellphones. It uses WAP to communicate with Windows CE, PalmOS, and Symbian devices. Additional mobile access solutions are available through business partners, of which the most important are Notify, Consilient and Aligo. Notify and Conciliant provide access to RIM devices. Further information will be available on Sun's website soon.
Client Software:
· Communications Express. This web client provides calendaring, messaging, and address book, and is included with purchase of either Java System Messaging Server and Java System Calendar Server.
· Sun Java System Connector for Microsoft Outlook. This connects Outlook to Sun's messaging, calendar, and address book servers. More information at http://www.sun.com/download/products.xml?id=40e497ae
· Evolution. This is an Outlook lookalike running under Linux.
· Sun Instant Messenger. This is the client piece included with purchase of Sun Java System Instant Messaging. This Java application runs on all the server platforms above plus Macintosh. It communicates with the Sun Instant Messaging Server using the XMPP protocol, and provides a user interface to the server's services. More information at http://www.sun.com/software/products/instant_messaging/index.xml.
· Portlets providing access to most Sun messaging services. The portlets are written to the JSR 168 standard, providing for portability between portals. More information at http://www.sun.com/software/products/portal_srvr/home_portal6.xml.
· Sun Java System Synchronization Tool. This provides data synchronization with handheld devices running Windows CE and Palm. More information at http://www.sun.com/download/products.xml?id=3f9ee26e.
Platforms. All server products run under Solaris X86 and SPARC, Linux, Windows and HP/UX.
Main Plans--Next 12 Months:
· Voice--both VoIP and PSTN--will be added to the instant messaging server
· The instant messaging server will get better scalability and reliability for service providers, allowing it to accommodate some of Sun’s largest customers, with millions of deployed seats.
· The messaging server's manageability will be improved.
· Calendar events will be able to have attachments. E.g., you'll be able to add a presentation to a meeting.
· Sun’s stores are optimized for their specific purpose. There are thus servers for messaging, calendar, directory, and instant messaging. The firm is grappling with ways of letting users access all this information as a single, integrated, logical view. Sun refers to its approach as "federation".
· "Glow". This is a rich Windows client for calendaring and address book. It will integrate with Mozilla and other third party products to provide standards-based access to email.
· Working with partners (especially Notify and Concilient), mobile messaging connectivity will be simplified.
· Rich clients will be developed for mobile devices, such as Nokia and Ericsson phones, and Palm OS wireless PDAs. They are being written in J2ME, satisfying the MIDP standard.
· Sun anticipates selling more to ASPs offering hosted messaging to SMEs. The Outlook Connector is a key element.

Other Ferris Research Comments

· Sun is one of the largest and most successful messaging vendors. Compared to its other main competitors in the service providers space--Openwave and Critical Path--has a stable, and proven business.
· Sun's messaging activities have always been innovative.
· Large organizations use Sun messaging to provide a mailbox service to their clients. Eg, banks often provide a limited mailbox service for online banking customers. The mailbox may be accessed through a web browser or a proprietary interface, and provides for greater privacy and protection from intruders.
· Sun says it is seeing a growing demand from firms offering hosted messaging to SMEs. This is plausible. Outsourced hosting is still of very little interest to large organizations.
· Sun also reports growing interest in instant messaging offerings among service providers. Probably this is an indication that instant messaging is beginning to replace SMS texting.
· Service providers in Eastern Europe and Russia, both publicly and privately owned, are lively sales areas.
· Sun is not as successful as it could be in explaining its messaging offering and its strong competitive position. The firm has a limited sales and marketing budget for messaging. Its culture tends to put hardware or basic OS software infrastructure first.
· Ferris believes that Sun management does not fully understand the strengths and weaknesses of its messaging business, which constrains the business from reaching its full potential.

Posted by Gabriel Golden on March 7, 2005 in Calendaring & Scheduling, Directories and Identity Management, Email, Mobile Messaging, Product Reviews | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

At LinuxWorld, Novell's NIMS lives again as "Hula"

Remember NIMS, Novell Internet Mail System, later reborn as NetMail? The technology is about to get it's third outing, as the core of Hula, "a new community project to create an open source collaboration server." This illustrates several interesting trends...

A highly scalable mail server, with a reputation for robustness, NIMS quietly withered on the Novell marketing vine. It managed to pick up a claimed 4 million seats, despite very little effort from Novell, including an ill-concieved attempt to create a Hotmail competitor.

Initial goals for Hula are explicitely modest: to provide email, calendaring, and a rich "Gmail-style" web access. It's interesting to see the email market subdivide itself into full-featured messaging/collaboration platforms like Notes/Domino or Novell Groupwise, and the newer, "streamlined" technologies like IBM's Workplace Service Express or Hula.

It's also interesting to see Novell grasp the "open source community" nettle. In many ways, it's got nothing to lose, as the NIMS codebase isn't worth much to Novell as a piece of IP.

Richer web access is also a trend we see emerging: existing mail clients such as the Scalix web client and Google's Gmail give a hint of what's possible with modern browsers. Google has also given Hula inspiration with their new Google Maps beta. Clearly, we should no longer be satisfied with slow web interfaces and heavy reliance on server round-trips. What users are coming to expect is a level of interactivity from web applications approaching that of regular desktop clients such as Outlook.

Posted by Richi Jennings on February 15, 2005 in Calendaring & Scheduling, Email, News, Novell Groupwise | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Inbox Messaging Conference Summary

Inbox had about 50 users (IT staff supporting email) and 350 vendors attending. Like most events nowadays, it had a hard time attracting users. There were about 30 booths, and most booths were empty most of the time. Most vendors felt that with hindsight, taking a booth wasn't worthwhile. It was a useful place to rub shoulders with others in the industry, and for vendors to discuss doing business together.

Posted by David Ferris on November 29, 2004 in Calendaring & Scheduling, Email, Email Retention & Archiving, IBM Lotus Notes/Domino, Instant Messaging & Presence, Microsoft Exchange, Novell Groupwise, Regulations & Compliance, Spam Control, Team Workspaces | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack