Open source e-mail goes commercial

Move over Linux and Mozilla: There's a new entrant in the growing field of software developers looking to ride open source code to marketplace success. Sendmail Inc. has begun shipping Sendmail Pro, its first commercial product. Sendmail Pro is based on the free open source sendmail, a server-based message transfer agent that has long played a key role in routing e-mail between the Internet and commercial e-mail products. Given the ubiquity of open source sendmail in corporations and ISPs, Sendmail's commercial debut may be perfectly poised to bolt from the starting gate.

Move over Linux and Mozilla: There's a new entrant in the growing field of software developers looking to ride open source code to marketplace success.

Sendmail Inc. has begun shipping Sendmail Pro, its first commercial product. Sendmail Pro is based on the free open source sendmail, which is a server-based message transfer agent. Sendmail has long played a key role in routing e-mail between the Internet and commercial e-mail products.

Given the ubiquity of open source sendmail in corporations and ISPs, it could be argued that Sendmail company founder Eric Allman's commercial debut is perfectly poised to bolt from the starting gate.

Beta testers and industry experts are generally enthusiastic about the release, although some have questioned how anxious customers will be to pay cash for a product they're used to getting for free.

Company executives say Sendmail Pro offers more than enough new features to justify the cost. Included will be a graphical user interface (GUI) designed to ease deployment, administration and management, as well as reporting tools, spam controls, full documentation and previously unavailable service and support contracts.

Sendmail Pro will run on Sun Solaris, Red Hat Linux and Free BSD, with the company planning to add additional Unix support in the future. A Sendmail for Windows NT will also be offered because the company recently acquired that product's maker, MetaInfo.

The commercialised packages will be attractive to many organizations that have come to depend on sendmail for handling their Internet e-mail, according to Randall Winchester, coordinator of Unix support at the University of Maryland in College Park.

"For the administrator, the GUI part is a real plus that is just going to wow a lot of people," says Winchester, who runs open source sendmail on 45 e-mail servers and 1,000 Unix-based clients. "The end users get the same solid Simple Mail Transfer Protocol service they've been getting all along with the open source."

There could be a tangential benefit from the GUI for e-mail network managers, he adds.

"I could probably start delegating some of this administration out to somebody else now who doesn't have to be a sendmail wizard," Winchester says. "That's exciting."

Sendmail Pro costs US$1,298 for a single-processor, unlimited user license. Sendmail for NT costs $498 for a 10-user license.

Sendmail: (888) 594-3150

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