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Sun ships latest mail server

The latest version of its Internet mail server shows that Sun plans to play in the big leagues in the groupware market.

    Sun Microsystems today began shipping the latest version of its enterprise Internet mail server, showing signs that it plans to play in the big leagues in the tight enterprise groupware market despite earlier warnings by analysts about any positive outcome.

    Priced between $1,496 and $3,495, SIMS 3.5 is a client/server package for messaging on Sun's Solaris environment and is targeted toward the Internet Service Provider (ISP) and enterprise groupware markets. The new features include boosted Internet mailing standard support and improved security features.

    The new version features the Sun Web Access component allowing users to access SIMS through any HTML browser and send and retrieve email and calendar information.

    SIMS customers may also choose from among the 15 standards-based email software packages offered from third-party vendors that have been tested with the Sun Internet Mail engine.

    The new server supports Secure Socket Layer (SSL) to insure that communication between client and server are encrypted. And IPSec-approved protocol support provides secure server-to-server support. IPSec protocols are also designed for securely linking remote users to corporate networks over the Internet.

    Also on the security side, SIMS 3.5 supports X.509 certificate authorities through a partnership with Entrust Technologies .

    The newest Sun mail server has improved interoperability with Netscape Communicator, Microsoft Outlook Express, and Qualcomm Eudora Pro, by adding more support for MAPI.

    The new server also includes enhanced anti-spam technology by employing anti-relay mechanisms. Administrators can set up anti-spamming rules by designating the source address, destination address, and action desired.

    Despite earlier criticism by analysts about the software maker's late entry into the groupware space, Sun is trying to take advantage of the explosion of the Internet in the business world to propel its product beyond its competition, Sun executives said.

    And with this release they are providing numbers to prove their point. According to its own estimates, SIMS currently enjoys 5 million mailbox customers. However, the company contends that these numbers are mainly due to ISP sales rather than enterprise sales.

    Sun's groupware marketing director Dilhad Simons insisted SIMS is doing very well in both markets. "The enterprise and ISP markets are coming more closer together. Up until lately cost of ownership was less important than other concerns in the enterprise," when considering email platforms. "It is the total opposite with ISPs who are looking to provide low cost services. Now we see a change in how both look at it."

    She said enterprises, "particularly small-to-middle sized companies, are looking at ISPs to provide email and calendar services for their employees? Our product is designed to serve both markets."