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Sendmail ships first products

Sendmail Pro and SendMail for NT are both built on the standards-based open source software Internet pioneer Eric Allman began developing nearly 20 years ago.

    The first line of commercial products from Internet pioneer Eric Allman's new private venture began shipping today.

    Available today, Sendmail Pro and SendMail for NT are both built on the standards-based open source software Allman began developing nearly 20 years ago for exchanging email between a government network known as the ARPAnet and the computer system at the University of California at Berkeley.

    In March, he launched a new company called Sendmail.

    Today, Allman's noncommercial Sendmail software--which is free for any network administrator to copy, use, and modify--routes an estimated 75 percent of email on the Internet.

    Sendmail Pro is built on the Sendmail software with targeted enhancements, services, and support targeted at the commercial market, including a browser-like interface and wizard for creating configuration files; Web-based graphical configuration tools for updating existing configurations; and antispam integration technology.

    Sendmail for NT is actually a product built on the basic Sendmail open-source software by MetaInfo, which was acquired by Allman's company, the company said.

    "We're keeping the core code the same," said Rich Guthe, vice president of marketing at Sendmail. But, "we know we had to provide ease of use enhancements and provide support for the product so it would be accepted by more users."

    Sendmail joins a host of other companies that are bridging the gap between freeware and commercial enterprise. In January, Netscape Communications said it would freely distribute the source code for its Communicator software suite. Caldera and Red Hat both have created moneymaking businesses distributing and supporting the open source operating system known as Linux.

    The advantage to open source is that literally thousands of talented developers are free to collaborate on bug fixes, upgrades, and support for the product, saving a company precious in-house resources. A disadvantage to open source is that it often requires more expertise in installing and configuring the software on a particular machine, creating headaches and extra costs for businesses that want to use the programs.

    Sendmail is looking to peddle its new product to ISPs. The commercial version will be available in a pretested, precompiled binary format, eliminating what many network administrators say is the arduous task of downloading the software off the Net and then customizing it to run on their particular systems.

    "Many organizations are currently using Sendmail for delivering email over the Internet," said David Ferris, chief executive officer of Ferris Research. Up until now, the software has "been unsupported and difficult to use. We're telling our clients that it is well worth talking to Sendmail because there is technical support now in place and they have included so-called ease-of-use enhancements."

    Sendmail will offer four levels of support and service for the new product, from a free 30-day warranty to a premium annual package, starting at $120,000.

    Sendmail Pro is priced at $1,298 for a single processor, unlimited user license, while Sendmail for NT's pricing starts at a 10-user license for $495, a 50-user license for $998, and an unlimited license for $1,298.