Web Informant #127, 17 October 1998:
Running out of time with cc:Mail


If you are running a cc:Mail network, you are running out of time.

Lotus would like you to convert to Notes, naturally. Microsoft would like you to move to Exchange and Outlook. And Novell (remember Novell) wants you to convert to Groupwise. None of these three suggestions are really a good idea, however. They all replace one proprietary system with another. All three vendors have various tools and techniques to migrate your users, and all will require some pain and suffering to deploy across your enterprise. All will require replacing your desktop email software. So, given that you have a lot of work to do, you might want to consider another strategy.

My recommendation is for you to consider running a 100% pure Internet email system. By this I mean you should choose your products that faithfully implement Internet protocols and standards such as the Simple Mail Transport Protocol and Post Office Protocol as their native tongue, without the need to incorporate gateways and add-ons. Examples of such products include software from Netscape, Qualcomm, and even Microsoft (Outlook Express, the free email software that comes with Internet Explorer versions 4 and later).

Having a 100% pure Internet email system means having the freedom to choose your products. If you don't like a particular client or server, you can switch with much more ease than you are about to go through with changing your cc:Mail system. I think the freedom to choose your email client software is important. This is the end of the 90s, after all. I have been running Eudora for many years as my own email software: but if I find something better or if Qualcomm comes out with a brain-dead upgrade, I am comforted by knowing that I can choose another product.

Having a 100% pure system also means that when I travel, I can read my email with a multitude of products, including web browsers and services that can read my messages over an ordinary voice phone call. That is helpful, especially since I don't want to tote a laptop around.

What about Notes, Groupwise and Exchange? They all use their own protocols, messaging formats, and other proprietary systems. Granted, these three offer plenty of features that aren't found in the 100% pure products, such as integrated calendars, message recall and return acknowledgement receipts. And all three come with the necessary parts and gateways to work with Internet email systems.

But a gateway is a terrible way to connect your corporation to the Internet. Gateways mangle messages more often than anything else: they delete addresses, can't deal with transporting secure email, and trash attachments. Some gateways get stuck and don't deliver messages, cutting off your communications with the outside world. Gateways are such a weak link that I know many email administrators that place the machine running their gateway in their own office, so they can keep a close watch on what is happening. Living so close to your equipment isn't any way to run an email network!

Self promotions dep't

I'll be in Atlanta for Networld+Interop this coming week, and conducting two sessions: my all-day class on eCommerce will be held on Wednesday, while the conference session on Internet Appliances with Dave Piscitello will be held on Thursday. I hope to see you at the show.

David Strom
+1 (516) 944-3407
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