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Novell NetMail XE versus Competitive Alternatives
NetMail Cool Solutions Article
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Posted: 13 Nov 2002

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Executive Overview
NetMail XE Features
NetMail XE vs. Hosted E-Mail Alternatives
NetMail XE vs. Standards-Based E-Mail Server Alternatives
NetMail XE vs. Microsoft Exchange Server

Novell® NetMail™ XE is a robust, standards-based collaboration solution that combines simplicity, powerful capabilities and low cost to thoroughly meet the needs of small business. NetMail XE provides the high performance necessary to handle even the heaviest messaging loads with ease, high reliability to ensure that collaboration services are always available, low cost of ownership and minimal impact on your administrative duties due to its affordable price and extremely simple setup and administration, and low impact on your technical support efforts due to its seamless integration with popular e-mail clients and professional, highly intuitive interfaces. If you're looking for a solution to your small business collaboration needs, NetMail XE is the superior standards-based choice.

As an alternative to implementation of internal collaboration solutions such as NetMail XE, customers have recently been introduced to the notion of "hosted e-mail," a model in which third party Application Service Providers ("ASPs") rent e-mail accounts to customers for a monthly per-mailbox fee. Through this model, the ASP bears all costs associated with e-mail server hardware, software and administration, thus eliminating these as issues of for customers. However, while ASPs attempt to convince small business customers that e-mail server software, hardware and administration are difficult and costly, a review of the actual facts reveals that small business customers may find it significantly more attractive to implement NetMail XE rather than rely upon an ASP for hosted e-mail accounts.

Another alternative to NetMail XE is to implement a competitive standards-based e-mail server targeted at small business. While many such competitors exist, none can match the high Return on Investment and low Total Cost of Ownership delivered by NetMail XE, and even the best of these competitors fails to offer the strong value, maturity and stability of Novell's product.

Microsoft's Exchange Server represents the final competitive alternative to NetMail XE. However, evaluation of Microsoft's solution shows that the product includes overwhelming complexity as a result of its many features targeted uniquely at large corporations, and it imposes a substantial security risk. Most importantly, Exchange is astonishingly more expensive to implement.

This whitepaper provides a summary of the features provided by NetMail XE, a comparison against hosted e-mail alternatives, a comparison against alternative standards-based e-mail servers, and a comparison against Microsoft* Exchange-all of which clearly demonstrate that NetMail XE is the premium collaboration solution for small businesses today.

Executive Overview

NetMail XE the premium small business solution for standards-based e-mail, calendaring and task management. Based on established Internet standards, NetMail XE ensures compatibility with existing and future systems and enables trouble-free collaboration with business partners and customers. NetMail XE is extremely easy to use because it integrates with Microsoft Outlook*, Outlook Express and other popular e-mail clients, and it includes a superior browser-based interface that enables access to collaboration services from anywhere, at any time. NetMail XE is simple to install and administer, requiring no significant technical expertise and very little time. Due to its simplicity and ease-of-use, NetMail XE provides significant Return on Investment while having little impact on your support and administration efforts.

While hosted e-mail alternatives may initially appear attractive, potential customers should look closely to evaluate the true benefits provided and to closely scrutinize the actual long-term costs involved. Over the course of a typical three year solution, you'll find that hosted e-mail services can be quite costly-significantly exceeding the cost of an internally implemented NetMail XE collaboration solution that provides considerably greater flexibility and more-powerful features. For small business customers, NetMail XE is faster to implement, provides superior performance and promises greater Return on Investment.

Customers considering NetMail XE may also encounter a variety of seemingly similar products that promise many of the same features. However, few such products offer the same quality, robustness and ease of use as NetMail XE. Many competitors offer poorly implemented administration and user interfaces, and most are lacking significant features. More importantly, almost all such competitors offer their products
at a higher price, with some charging several times the per-user cost of NetMail XE. Due to its unique simplicity, quality implementation and low cost, NetMail XE offers significantly lower Total Cost of Ownership than alternative standards-based e-mail competitors.

NetMail XE also represents a superior small business solution when compared to Microsoft Exchange. Exchange unnecessarily introduces significant complexity that lengthens implementation and can dramatically increase costs. Exchange also has been found to include a wide variety of security vulnerabilities that have consistently provided opportunity for costly business disruption. Finally, Microsoft's Exchange solution is incredibly more expensive, with software costs alone ranging from 591% more expensive for 10 users to 3,337% more expensive for 250 users.

NetMail XE Features

NetMail XE includes a comprehensive set of features to serve the collaboration needs of small business. Messaging, calendaring, task management and personal notes enable employees to share information and coordinate activities, thereby increasing internal productivity as well as facilitating interaction with customers and business partners. The following list describes many of the features that NetMail XE provides:

Simple to install

NetMail XE is incredibly quick and easy to install. Installation is performed via a standard interface that automates the entire process, requiring only six simple clicks of the mouse to confirm the license agreement, the installation method and the actions to be performed. The procedure requires only two simple items of information to be entered: the domain name for the company (example-"xyzcorp.com") and the IP address of the company's primary DNS server (either the DNS server operated by the company, or by the company's ISP). The entire installation process, from start to finish, can require only a few short minutes to complete, after which the NetMail XE server is fully operational and ready for use.

Simple, integrated Windows-based administration

NetMail XE runs on the Windows NT*/2000/XP platform and includes a management interface integrated with the Microsoft Management Console ("MMC"), thus leveraging the user accounts and management paradigm with which Windows administrators are already familiar. The NetMail XE MMC snap-in is extremely easy to use and presents uncomplicated e-mail server configuration parameters through a tabbed dialog interface.

NetMail XE also extends MMC's management interface by adding a tab to MMC's user properties dialog, through which user-specific e-mail configuration parameters may be set.

To further simplify setup and administration, when NetMail XE is installed, a mailbox is automatically created for each existing user, and when new users are subsequently added, a mailbox is automatically created for them as well.

Browser-based administration

NetMail XE also includes an alternative HTML-based administrative interface that can be run from any workstation on the network, and that is compatible with any platform running a Web browser. This HTML-based administrative interface includes access to all of the same configuration settings
as offered by the NetMail XE MMC snap-in.

NetMail XE additionally includes an HTML-based interface allowing end users to specify vacation rules, forwarding addresses, signature blocks and other optional aspects of their e-mail experience. This interface appears as an integrated feature of the WebMail and WebAccess interfaces.

Outlook Express compatibility

NetMail XE is compatible with Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express, the desktop e-mail clients with which end users are already familiar. In addition to POP3 support, NetMail XE integrates with Outlook via IMAP4, a standards-based Internet protocol that allows Outlook to synchronize user e-mail and folders with the NetMail XE message store. IMAP4 integration provides superior usability when compared with POP3, as it enables end users to utilize Outlook and NetMail XE WebMail interfaces interchangeably, with all e-mail appearing in both interfaces at all times (with POP3, e-mail is removed by Outlook from WebMail and is no longer accessible from it). NetMail XE also works with Netscape Communicator*, Qualcomm Eudora*, Novell GroupWise® and other POP3 or IMAP4 compatible e-mail clients.

LDAP-based address book

NetMail XE provides access to address book information in its user database from LDAP-compatible e-mail clients such as Outlook. The address book is centrally maintained by NetMail XE and can be accessed by all users based upon each user's selected information privacy level.

Web-based mail access

NetMail XE implements a powerful template-based Web access architecture that allows the development and customization of multiple HTML-based user interfaces. NetMail XE ships with two such templates: the "WebMail" template provides an HTML-only interface that is compatible with all Web browsers, and the "WebAccess" template which provides a significantly enhanced user experience for JavaScript-compatible Web browsers. Both templates provide easy-to-use, clutter-free access to NetMail XE functions from anywhere, at anytime.


NetMail XE's WebAccess interface provides calendaring functions to enable employees to schedule meetings and manage personal activities. The calendar includes detailed daily, weekly and monthly views that summarize activities, and allows for easy creation of one-time and recurring events. Users can schedule appointments and invite others, assign tasks to team members, and enter arbitrary notes as reminders.

Mailbox management rules

NetMail XE enables users to create rules that powerfully automate the organization of incoming e-mail. Using the NetMail XE simple interface, rules can be created that search for specified text in any selected field of the e-mail, causing it to be automatically moved to another folder, copied to a specified user, deleted, or forwarded to another address.

Unsolicited e-mail blocking

NetMail XE includes features to block unwanted, annoying unsolicited e-mail (popularly known as "spam"). Unsolicited e-mail reduces productivity, clogs e-mail inboxes and can deliver virus-laden payloads that disrupt and damage internal systems.

NetMail XE anti-spam features include support for e-mail "blacklists" that enable blocking of IP connection requests from known spammers. URL blacklist services such as the MAPS Realtime Blackhole List, ORBS, Spamcop, SPEWS, etc. are supported. NetMail XE also prevents unauthorized use of your system by spammers by disabling
e-mail relay capabilities, and by supporting SMTP Authentication, a protocol which requires e-mail clients to properly authenticate to your e-mail server before sending messages. For older e-mail clients that don't support SMTP Authentication, another feature provided by NetMail XE to prohibit unauthorized use of your system by spammers is SMTP-after-POP. When enabled, this feature allows users to send e-mail through your server only
after validly logging in via POP to retrieve e-mail.

Anti-virus protection

NetMail XE integrates with McAfee NetShield*, Computer Associates*; eTrust* InoculateIT* and Symantec's Carrierscan* (also known as the Symantec Scan Engine) anti-virus products to provide comprehensive virus protection for all your incoming and outgoing messages.

PDA synchronization

NetMail XE includes compatibility with Palm* PDAs ("Palm Conduit"), and Pocket PC* PDAs ("ActiveSync*"), that can synchronize a user's calendar and personal address book data.
NetMail XE ships with a plug-in for Palm Desktop that allows users to launch Palm's HotSync* Manager and easily synchronize their NetMail XE calendar and personal address book with a Palm device. Furthermore, e-mail access is fully supported by the e-mail clients that are built
into the Palm and PocketPC devices.


NetMail XE offers the best security available. Internet mail protocols such as POP3, IMAP4, HTTP and SMTP are not inherently secure because they transmit data in clear-text form that could be easily read by unauthorized parties. NetMail XE's use of TLS and SSL in conjunction with these protocols ensures that logins, password changes, messages and information sent through internal networks and the Internet cannot be read without proper authentication.


NetMail XE is based on Internet standards and therefore is completely compatible with the systems implemented by your ISP, business partners and remote clients. NetMail XE supports the following standards:

Standard Function 
POP3 This protocol allows an e-mail client to retrieve e-mail messages from an e-mail server. After retrieval, messages are no longer resident on the server.
IMAP4 This protocol enables synchronization of all mail messages between an e-mail client and an e-mail server. After synchronization, a complete copy of all e-mail continues to also reside on the server where it can be retrieved by alternate clients, such as NetMail XE's WebAccess interface, thus providing universal access to messages.
SMTP This protocol allows an e-mail client to send messages to an e-mail server, as well as allowing e-mail servers to exchange messages.
ESMTP This standard defines a means to extend the capabilities of SMTP to include additional functions.
LDAP3 This protocol allows an e-mail client to retrieve address book information from an e-mail server.
HTML This protocol enables the display of e-mail and administrative information within a Web browser.
SSL/TLS These protocols enable the secure, encrypted transmission of information across public and private networks.
MIME and S/MIME These standards enable attachments to be exchanged between e-mail clients from differing vendors.
DSN This protocol lets users know whether or not their e-mail actually arrived in the mailboxes of their intended recipients.
X.500 This standard provides a universal format for digital certificates. Digital certificates enable systems and users to know that other systems and users are truly who they claim to be. SSL and TLS utilize digital certificates to authenticate the systems on each end point of communications, and S/MIME utilizes digital certificates to digitally sign and encrypt e-mails, thus ensuring their source and securing their contents.
SNMP This standard is used to generate alert notices that can be read by network management applications, thus enabling an integrated management solution.

Mailbox consolidation

To assist users in migrating away from existing e-mail accounts, NetMail XE allows users to consolidate up to three existing POP3 or IMAP4 accounts into a single mailbox. For each configured account, NetMail XE retrieves e-mail from that account and presents it to the user through their NetMail XE account.

Multiple language support

NetMail XE supports 25 languages, and allows each user to select the language that is most appropriate for them.

Vacation rules

NetMail XE allows end users, or system administrators, to create a vacation rule that automatically responds to all subsequent incoming messages notifying the sender with a custom response.

E-mail forwarding

NetMail XE allows end users, or system administrators, to create a forwarding rule that causes all incoming messages to be automatically forwarded to a specified e-mail address.

Mailbox size limits

NetMail XE allows system administrators to specify, for each mailbox, the maximum total amount of data that can be stored in the mailbox at any given time.


NetMail XE allows system administrators to specify one or more "aliases" for any given mailbox account (for instance, "Webmaster@xyzcorp.com" may have an alias of "rsmith@xyzcorp.com"), thus allowing multiple mailboxes to be serviced by a single individual.


The NetMail XE architecture is open and extensible to ensure fast, easy incorporation of custom features and functions. It includes Networked Messaging Application Protocol (NMAP), an ASCII-based protocol interface that's simple to use
and allows both on-box and remote integration. With NMAP, customers and third-party providers can quickly extend functionality to enhance the usefulness of NetMail and improve it in ways specific to an organization's unique needs.

NetMail XE vs. Hosted E-Mail Alternatives

Customers seeking hosted e-mail solutions will find vendors that generally fall into one of two categories: those that offer e-mail services for free ("Free E-mail"), and those that offer e-mail services for a flat monthly fee ("Application Service Providers"):

Free E-mail Providers

Free E-mail providers are vendors that seek to attract end users to their Web site by offering free services, thus providing opportunities to influence users, display advertisements, sell products and generally pursue Web-based business opportunities. Free E-mail services such as MSN Hotmail and Yahoo Mail are sub-features of very large portal sites that help to attract millions of end users as willing, potential customers of their parent companies.

Value Proposition

Free E-mail providers implement e-mail servers and allow Internet-based end users to arbitrarily create and utilize mailboxes at no charge. End users can use their mailbox regardless of where they are or how they access the Internet.

Business Model

Free E-mail providers generally hope to realize income through banner advertising and through sales of add-on e-mail features that enhance the extremely basic, limited features of the free version with capabilities that make it more suitable for frequent use. Such fee-based add-on features may include advertisement-free pages, tagline-free outbound e-mails, extended mailbox storage, custom domain names, anti-virus protection, anti-spam features, POP3 access, extended attachment size support, no account expiration, e-mail forwarding and others.

Customers Most Likely to Benefit

Consumers are the most likely to benefit from Free E-mail services. Free mailboxes are independent of the ISP that each end user utilizes to connect to the Internet, thus the end user's e-mail address remains constant despite switching to an alternative ISP in the future. Free mailboxes also provide a degree of anonymity, allowing end users to create a secondary mailbox and disclose its address when required by Internet-based services, thereby somewhat protecting their primary e-mail address from unsolicited e-mail.

Applicability to Small Business E-mail Solutions

Businesses are unlikely to be satisfied with the following factors typically associated with Free E-mail services:

  • Immature user interfaces
  • Extremely limited features
  • Distracting advertising
  • Limited mailbox storage space
  • Lack of responsive technical support
  • Lack of a custom domain name, thus lack of a business identity
  • Limited availability of user account names (most meaningful names are already taken)
  • Lack of robust anti-virus and anti-spam capabilities
  • Limited compatibility with desktop POP- and IMAP-based e-mail clients
  • Periodic expiration of mailbox accounts
  • Lack of backup and restore services
  • Lack of administration capabilities
  • Limited attachment size
  • Etc.

In summary, Free E-mail services are unsuitable for business use because "you get what you pay for," whereby due to the fact that the e-mail is free, it is limited, unproductive and inappropriate for most business communications.

Application Service Providers

Application Service Providers ("ASPs") are vendors that implement applications for a fee on behalf of customers. ASPs invest in hardware, software and network infrastructure to create a data center, and run applications such as e-mail, database, accounting, e-commerce, storage and other services for access on a rental basis across the Internet.

ASPs come in all sizes and offer a wide variety of applications. Some ASPs are small operations, being little more than a local ISP with a few Linux* or Windows NT/2000 servers on which they host their applications. Other ASPs invest millions to establish enormous data centers, bomb-proof buildings, hundreds of servers, terabytes of storage, dozens of high-throughput Internet connections and highly complex networks.

Value Proposition

The value proposition offered by ASPs is that they bear the up-front costs and efforts associated with building a huge data center, populating it with hardware and software, and maintaining it on a 24x7 basis. For customers that require large, expensive, complex systems that are highly scalable and fault tolerant, the investment necessary (cash, time and expertise) to implement and maintain such systems can be considerable. ASPs relieve customers needing such systems of these up-front and extended costs by allowing customers to pay for access to applications based upon a monthly rental fee for an extended
period of time.

Business Model

ASPs seek long-term profits through volume licensing of their application services. By charging a large number of customers a monthly rental
fee, and by implementing systems capable of simultaneously supporting access by multiple customers, ASPs hope that small profits gained from each customer add together to eventually exceed their investment and thus create a steady source of income.

Note that ASPs do not always offer fees that represent a clear cost saving over internal implementation of equivalent applications. ASPs implementing highly complex systems sometimes charge a premium for their services, believing that rapid implementation and use of readily available fault tolerant systems are worth a premium.

Customers Most Likely to Benefit

The customers most likely to benefit from ASP-based solutions are 1) those businesses that require extremely rapid implementation of complex applications that would otherwise take a long time to implement, and 2) those businesses that have little cash to invest in creating a needed high-end data center. For customers requiring rapid access to complex applications, such as a large scale accounting system or vertical application suite that might take nine months to implement internally, gaining access within just days or weeks might create business opportunities that otherwise could not be pursued. For customers that have little cash to spend but very large application needs, having the ability to immediately make use of a large-scale data center might allow them to immediately compete effectively with established vendors.

Applicability to Small Business E-mail Solutions

Hosted e-mail is significantly less attractive to small businesses than to large businesses. Small businesses can often implement an e-mail solution, such as NetMail XE, faster than they could locate, contract and enable services from
an ASP. Small businesses also have little need for the highly complex data center equipment and configurations offered by ASPs, and instead are fully served by the superior price/performance offered by solutions based upon industry standard hardware. Furthermore, small businesses can implement a superior internal collaboration solution based upon NetMail XE at a cost below what most ASPs can offer.

Examining the Claims of ASP-based E-mail Alternatives

When evaluating the claims of ASPs, customers will encounter marketing statements that might lead them to wonder why anyone would implement e-mail solutions internally due of the supposed high complexity and cost of e-mail hardware, software and administration. However, careful examination of such claims often reveals that
ASPs are attempting to solve problems that are truly irrelevant to small business customers. While clustered, highly scalable and fault tolerant e-mail servers may benefit the ASP in their own efforts, small business customers are more often concerned with the following issues:

  • Simplicity-Is the e-mail solution simple to implement and maintain? Can the solution be implemented without significant time, effort or training?
  • Performance-Does the e-mail solution respond quickly and deliver information in a timely manner?
  • Service availability-Is the mail solution reliable, providing dependable service without system crashes?
  • Tangible business benefits-Does the e-mail solution provide easily recognized benefits above and beyond available alternatives?
  • Affordable-Is the e-mail solution cost effective, providing a compelling Return On Investment?

The following points review the claims made by ASPs to determine the reality of those claims when compared to the small business benefits provided by Novell's NetMail XE:

  1. Superior performance
    ASPs: ASPs claim to provide superior performance due to their implementation of highly scalable, very expensive hardware platforms.

    NetMail XE: NetMail XE offers extremely high performance, being easily capable of fully handling the needs of small business on simple, basic hardware. ASPs implement highly scalable, very expensive hardware platforms because they host hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions) of customer mailboxes on a single system. However, small businesses requires only hundreds of mailboxes, thus they can leverage the price/performance benefits of industry standard hardware. In fact, NetMail XE is so efficient that it can readily be hosted on your file and print server without negatively impacting performance.

    NetMail XE customers also enjoy superior application responsiveness because they're not subject to the network performance limitations and variations imposed by the Internet when accessing messages.

  2. Superior Reliability
    ASPs: Various ASPs claim to offer superior reliability because they implement clustered server configurations. The few ASPs that implement such configurations often charge an additional monthly premium as a result.

    NetMail XE: The reality is that basic PC hardware is quite reliable under reasonable loads, having an extremely low likelihood of failing over the 3 year lifetime of a small business e-mail solution. For large corporations to whom the minute-by-minute health of their e-mail solution represents a financial risk of enormous magnitude, clustered servers can make sense despite their very high cost. However, for small business the real issue is more commonly how fast an unlikely system failure can be restored to operation. Depending upon the nature of the crash, service might be restored within minutes, or in severe cases might take as much as a day. Potential customers of ASP-based solutions need to weigh their true needs in this regard to determine the premium they would be willing to pay for true fault tolerance, keeping in mind that NetMail XE places a very light load on PC server hardware and is therefore very unlikely to experience service outages.

  3. Fast implementation
    ASPs: ASPs claim that they can implement your e-mail solution faster, with various vendors claiming that they can have you up and running within a few hours or days.

    NetMail XE: NetMail XE implementation requires very little time, perhaps less than an hour, to complete. Because it runs on industry standard hardware, all necessary hardware can be acquired quickly and easily. The Windows NT/2000/XP server operating system may come pre-installed, or may be manually installed within an hour. Finally, the actual NetMail XE installation and configuration can usually be performed within just a few minutes. In summary, the combined time necessary to implement the NetMail XE solution can be considerably shorter than the time required to research, select, contract and configure a hosted e-mail solution from an ASP.

  4. Enables you to focus on your business
    ASPs: ASPs claim that by relying upon them to provide your e-mail solution, you will gain greater ability to focus on your business.

    NetMail XE: NetMail XE is so incredibly easy to install, configure and manage that it adds very little to your network administration duties. System setup can be performed quickly and easily, leaving only occasional management of user mailbox accounts to be performed-a task that ASPs require their customers to perform themselves as well. Because of its simplicity, installing a NetMail XE server doesn't divert your focus from the services you provide to your customers.

  5. Power failure protection
    ASPs: Various ASPs claim to protect their systems from momentary power failures through use of Uninterruptible Power Supplies ("UPS"), thus increasing the availability of their systems.

    NetMail XE: UPS systems capable of supporting a NetMail XE solution are very affordable and easily implemented, and do not appreciably increase the total cost of ownership of an e-mail solution.

  6. Simplified backups
    ASPs: ASPs claim that they provide knowledgeable personnel to perform system backups, thus relieving customers of the need to perform such duties themselves. Note that many ASPs charge extra for performing backups and often don't include such costs in their basic price quotes. In addition, various ASPs do not perform backups on a daily basis, thus providing less protection
    than may be expected.

    NetMail XE: Small server backups are extremely easy to configure and perform, and provide customers with the flexibility to perform backups and restores as often as desired according to their specific need. Many tape backup drives are highly affordable, and frequently come bundled with easy to use backup software that can often be installed and configured within minutes. These backup systems perform their duties automatically and thus require only the changing of the tape in the drive each day. In the event that the e-mail system ever needs to be restored, the backup software's restore functions are typically similarly highly automated and easy to operate.

  7. Reduced administration costs
    ASPs: ASPs claim that they provide fully trained, readily available system administration staff to install and configure the e-mail system, thus relieving customers of the need to hire and train such employees themselves. ASPs further provide customers with an HTML interface for managing user accounts.

    NetMail XE: NetMail XE is so simple to install and administer that anyone capable of running its installation program, having no prior training on the program, can usually have it running within just a few minutes. Once installed, the system requires only two simple configuration items to be specified before the system is fully operational, and from that point on administration is limited to managing user mailbox accounts.

    Because all NetMail XE administration is performed through the Microsoft Management Console ("MMC") or a Web browser (WebADM), such changes are simple to make because they are performed through the same management interfaces with which Windows NT/2000/XP system administrators are already familiar. If you've already implemented Windows NT/2000/XP as part of your internal network, you'll find that NetMail XE integrates easily and requires very little additional knowledge to maintain.

    In the event that you do have technical questions, answers are easy to obtain from your local Novell Reseller.

  8. Reduced technical support costs
    ASPs: ASPs claim that they provide fully trained, readily available technical support staff, thus relieving you of the need to hire and train such employees yourself.

    NetMail XE: NetMail XE requires very little end user support because it works with Outlook and Outlook Express, the desktop
    e-mail clients that end users are already accustomed to. In addition, NetMail XE's truly superior WebAccess interface closely follows the user interface paradigm of Outlook Express and is therefore highly intuitive and instantly usable.

  9. Reduced costs associated with server software maintenance
    ASPs: ASPs claim that customers save money by not having to patch their server software or perform other ongoing server maintenance.

    NetMail XE: The NetMail XE solution requires very little ongoing maintenance expense. Basic industry standard hardware systems are most appropriate as a small business e-mail platform, and such systems require little, if any, maintenance over their lifetime. Furthermore, NetMail XE requires very little software maintenance, and in the event that that patches are required, they are very simple to install and require little technical knowledge.

  10. Reduced costs associated with server hardware
    ASPs: ASPs claim that customers save money by not having to purchase, configure and maintain e-mail server hardware. ASPs sometimes implement large scale, expensive server configurations on which they host hundreds of thousands of mailboxes.

    NetMail XE: The needs of small business are easily met by servers leveraging the superior price/performance of basic industry standard hardware. An appropriate system can be readily obtained for approximately $3,000-a very low cost that, when amortized over the three year life of a server solution, amounts to a very small per-user cost (for example, for a 100-user e-mail system the cost of the server hardware is approximately 83 cents per user per month). When compared with the monthly per-user cost of ASP-based e-mail solutions, this cost is extremely competitive.

  11. Reduced e-mail client software costs
    ASPs: Various ASPs claim to offer cost savings by including e-mail client software as part of their solution.

    NetMail XE: NetMail XE is compatible with Outlook and Outlook Express, the popular e-mail clients with which end users are already familiar. NetMail XE also includes a truly superior WebAccess client that is highly intuitive and very easy to use. No additional client software is necessary.

  12. Predictable, low monthly pricing
    ASPs: ASPs promise cost savings by charging an apparently low monthly rental fee for each mailbox desired by the customer. ASPs generate revenue by simultaneously hosting mailboxes for a large number of customers on a single e-mail server, thus profiting through volume pricing and long-term mailbox rental. This pricing model only benefits small business customers when the sum of all monthly fees over the term of the rental is less than the cost of implementing an e-mail solution internally.

    Many ASPs offer potential customers a price comparison to demonstrate the cost effectiveness of their solution versus implementing a solution internally. While these comparisons may initially appear compelling, here are some dubious items to look for when evaluating their claims:

    • Unnecessary high end server hardware. ASPs often compare costs factoring in the full price of the expensive, large scale hardware that they themselves implement for simultaneously hosting hundreds of thousands of customer mailboxes. While ASPs may need such hardware, small business collaboration solutions such as NetMail XE require only basic,
      vastly less-expensive industry standard hardware to fully meet customers' needs.
    • Unnecessary high end backup. ASPs often compare costs factoring in the full price of the expensive, large scale backup system that they themselves implement for their hosted e-mail platform. However, small business collaboration solutions such as NetMail XE require only a basic, significantly less-expensive tape drive and simple backup software to fully meet customers' needs.
    • Unnecessary system administration. ASPs often compare costs factoring in the price of a full time system administrator such as they employ to manage their large-scale hosted e-mail system. However, NetMail XE is so simple that it doesn't require significant attention by a system administrator. Customers are more likely to require a system administrator to manage their network and Internet connectivity, with NetMail XE representing a negligible addition to that existing effort.

    When evaluating ASP fees, customers should also be aware that some ASPs charge separate, additional fees for essential services such as backup, anti-virus, technical support, calendaring/scheduling features, etc., as well as extra fees for reasonable mailbox storage space and e-mail throughput, thus actual pricing may be higher than initial appearances may suggest.

    NetMail XE: NetMail XE is extremely affordable, providing customers with a superior Return on Investment ("ROI") due to its simplicity, low price and premium functionality. NetMail XE also runs on basic industry standard hardware, thus leveraging the superior price/performance such hardware affords. At the date this analysis was authored, a hardware platform fully capable of hosting NetMail XE, consisting of a single fast CPU, 512 MB RAM, an 80 GB IDE hard disk, a monitor, a 10/100 Ethernet NIC, a CD-ROM drive, a 40GB tape backup with backup software, and Windows* 2000 Server software can be obtained for approximately $3,000.

    Considering the above estimated hardware costs, and considering that small business customers would also require anti-spam features, anti-virus protection and daily backups, we can construct a table that compares the actual cost of NetMail XE versus the cost of competitive hosted e-mail services. In constructing this comparison we've selected a small but representative set of ASPs from the hundreds that currently offer hosted e-mail, including offerings of hosted Microsoft Exchange services, large scale standards-based services, small scale standards-based services, and U.S. nationwide ISP-based services.

Monthly Per-User Mailbox Cost Comparison

(based on a three year lifetime for the e-mail solution)

(Click To Enlarge)

  1. Product does not include anti-virus. Price is adjusted here to include an additional $1.00 per user per month to compensate for the purchase of third party anti-virus.
  2. Includes a potentially restrictive limit on per-mailbox storage space. Actual cost during normal use may be higher.
  3. Includes a potentially restrictive limit on e-mail data throughput. Actual cost during normal use may be higher.
  4. Does not include calendaring. Obtaining hosted calendaring from an additional vendor will increase cost.
  5. Price adjusted to ensure a minimum of at least 10MB storage space per mailbox per month.

The table on the previous page and the graphical chart below clearly demonstrate the affordability and competitive pricing offered by Novell NetMail XE versus ASP-based offerings. At 250 users, NetMail XE is 38% less expensive than the closest ASP competitor, and at 100 users is 14% less expensive-while offering superior, valuable features that the competition is missing.

     Monthly Per-User Mailbox Cost Comparison

Note that all cases in which base ASP pricing is quoted as less expensive than NetMail XE are in very small user counts, and in most of those cases the ASP fails to include valuable features such as calendaring, notes and task management, in addition to offering an inferior Web-based e-mail experience. For small business customers with a small number of users, NetMail XE can alternatively be installed on the same server currently running their file and print services, thus eliminating the hardware and OS costs from the total NetMail XE costs in the table above and therefore providing a dramatic cost savings over all ASP competitors, even at the lowest user counts.

NetMail XE vs. Standards-Based E-Mail Server Alternatives

In addition to ASPs, customers seeking standards-based collaboration solutions will also find avariety of vendors offering Windows NT/2000/XP-based e-mail servers targeted specifically at small businesses with moderate needs. While NetMail XE provides superior functionality, value and Return on Investment, the following section provides an overview of its most significant competitors in this
segment of market, as well as a variety of second-tier vendors offering seemingly similar but ineffectual products.

Gordano NTMail-Gordano's NTMail offers many of the features of Novell NetMail XE, including support for Internet e-mail standards such as POP3, IMAP4 and SMTP. However, unlike NetMail XE, Gordano's product is more difficult to implement, lacks advanced features, and costs considerably more:

  • Gordano's product is significantly harder to administer and requires greater time to learn and understand than Novell NetMail XE. Gordano's Web-based administration console presents hundreds of configuration parameters through a potentially bewildering HTML interface mainly consisting of dozens of simulated tabbed dialogs, most having many tabs. But while some of the parameters are editable via the tabbed dialog metaphor, others are presented through a totally different interface simulating an expandable tree-like metaphor-a confusing inconsistency that impacts administrator productivity. Gordano also includes 11 manuals with the product, with the main administrator's manual alone consisting of 241 pages.
  • Gordano's NTMail does not include WebMail and spam blocking as integrated components of the product. Customers must separately purchase this important functionality at significant additional cost.
  • Unlike NetMail XE that enables access to e-mail from anywhere, at any time, Gordano's product does not provide e-mail access from Palm- and Pocket PC-based PDAs via synchronization technology.
  • Most importantly, NetMail XE costs significantly less than Gordano's NTMail. For a solution including the e-mail server, WebMail, spam blocking and calendaring, Gordano's NTMail is 320% more expensive for 10 users, 150% more expensive for 25-50 users, and 275% more expensive for 100-250 users.

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     Novell NetMail XE pricing versus Gordano NTMail + GLWebMail XT

     Comparison between Novell and Gordano per-user pricing

Rockliffe MailSite-Rockliffe's MailSite* also offers many of the features of Novell NetMail XE, including support for Internet e-mail standards such as POP3, IMAP4 and SMTP. Like Gordano, Rockliffe is also more difficult to implement, lacks features, and costs more:

  • Rockliffe's product requires greater time to learn and understand than Novell NetMail XE. Rockliffe's administration manual is 301 pages long due to the increased complexity of the product as Rockliffe has attempted to address the unique needs of large corporations and ISPs. Such complexity isn't relevant to small business customers and makes the product more difficult to implement as a result.
  • Rockliffe's features enabling the creation of automated e-mail processing rules is difficult to use. Unlike Novell NetMail XE which provides a simple GUI for rules creation, Rockliffe requires end users and administrators to manually define special rules "agents" and does not provide a GUI to simplify the task.
  • Unlike NetMail XE that enables access to e-mail from anywhere, at any time, Rockliffe's product does not provide e-mail access from Palm- and Pocket PC-based PDAs via synchronization technology.
  • Unlike Novell NetMail XE, Rockliffe's solution lacks support for SSL, thus allowing its communications and e-mail to be monitored by unscrupulous individuals.
  • Novell NetMail XE is less expensive than Rockliffe's MailSite. For a solution including the e-mail server, WebMail, spam blocking and calendaring, Rockliffe's MailSite is 101% more expensive for 10 users, 20% more expensive for 25-50 users, and 50% more expensive for 150-250 users.

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     Novell NetMail XE pricing versus Rockliffe MailSite

     Comparison between Novell and Rockliffe per-user pricing

Ipswitch IMail-Ipswitch's IMail* also offers many of the features of Novell's NetMail XE, including support for Internet e-mail standards such as POP3, IMAP4 and SMTP. The following notable differences between the products demonstrate NetMail XE's superior appeal to small business:

  • Unlike NetMail XE that allows administration from any browser-based system, Ipswitch's product does not include a Web-based administrative console. Ipswitch requires a special administrative console application to be installed on each system from which administration may be performed.
  • Like Rockliffe, Ipswitch's product requires greater time to learn and understand than Novell NetMail XE. Ipswitch's administration manual is 354 pages long due to the increased complexity of the product as Ipswitch has attempted to address the unique needs of large corporations and ISPs. Such complexity isn't relevant to small business customers and makes the product more difficult to implement.
  • Unlike NetMail XE that enables access to e-mail from anywhere, at any time, Ipswitch's product does not provide e-mail access from Palm- and Pocket PC-based PDAs via synchronization technology.
  • Novell NetMail XE meets or beats the price of Ipswitch's IMail. For a solution including the e-mail server, WebMail, spam blocking
    and calendaring, Ipswitch's IMail is 237% more expensive for 10 users and 101% more expensive for 25-50 users. For 100-250 users, Novell NetMail XE and Ipswitch's IMail are similarly priced.

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     Novell NetMail XE pricing versus Ipswitch IMail

     Comparison between Novell and Ipswitch per-user pricing

Other standards-based small business e-mail competitors-In addition to Gordano, Rockliffe and Ipswitch, small business customers might choose to implement one of dozens of other messaging solutions from companies such as Qualcomm, SendMail, Stalker Software, NetWin, NetcPlus, Novitraq, Process Software, Incite, Caldera and many others. Customers should be aware of the many typical shortcomings of such products that make them a poor alternative:

  • Many of these vendors are tiny companies, sometimes consisting of only one or two employees offering a broadly deficient solution. Such messaging products are often based on free source that has been barely enhanced through addition of a limited administration interface hastily added on to make the product somewhat easier to install and manage. Such tiny vendors pose significant risk to small business, as they offer extremely limited ability to provide technical support or improve their product according to business needs, and are often unstable and disappear quickly.
  • Many of these vendors lack channel partners to assist customers in implementation of their e-mail solution. Novell's many worldwide channel partners greatly enhance customer success by providing first-hand expertise and support, and are readily available if critical issues arise.
  • Several products in this category run solely on Linux, therefore requiring customers to undertake the non-trivial effort to learn how to maintain a Linux server in addition to their Windows NT/2000/XP servers. Research also
    shows that such Linux-based e-mail solutions often cost significantly more than Novell's NetMail XE. These facts combine to demonstrate that Linux-based collaboration solutions may often result in significantly increased Total Cost of Ownership for small businesses.
  • Many of these products solely implement a POP3 server and thus lack valuable features such as security, simple administration,
    rules, anti-spam, anti-virus, WebMail, calendaring and others important to small business customers. Furthermore, many include immature, poorly designed user interfaces for both system administrators as well as end users.
  • Many of these products cost significantly more than Novell's full featured NetMail XE product. Despite the fact that such products offer fewer features, are less secure and are often offered by unknown vendors, such products are typically more expensive and therefore do not offer the strong value, maturity and stability of Novell NetMail XE.

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* SendMail calendaring also requires implementation of Solaris and Oracle, thus dramatically increasing actual costs over the prices shown here.

Novell NetMail XE pricing versus various other competitors

     Comparison of per-user pricing offered by Novell and various other competitors

NetMail XE vs. Microsoft Exchange Server

Microsoft also attempts to address the collaboration needs of small business through its Exchange Server product, although close investigation demonstrates that Exchange is unsuitable for small business and offers a significantly increased Total Cost of Ownership when compared with NetMail XE:

  • Exchange is highly complex. Customers need only to investigate Microsoft's Web site for Exchange Server to discover the vast complexity of the product and the enormous volume of knowledge needed to successfully plan, deploy, maintain and support the software. While Microsoft might argue that they offer a huge amount of information-as well as expensive Exchange training and certification classes-as a valuable customer service that simplifies implementation, small business customers should note that the volume of information provided corresponds directly to the complexity of the product. For small businesses interested in simplicity as well as advanced functionality, NetMail XE represents a superior choice that takes only minutes to plan and deploy. NetMail XE also requires no significant technical expertise, and very little effort,
    to maintain and support.

  • Exchange includes features not needed by small business. While Exchange provides greater functionality and a host of integrated third party products, small business customers should look closely to determine whether
    such additional functionality is truly required. NetMail XE provides the collaboration features that small business actually needs while easily co-existing with third party products through implementation of Internet standards.

  • Exchange imposes persistent security issues. The facts show that Microsoft's Exchange Server solution represents a security liability that may significantly increase the Total Cost of Ownership for customers as a result of the continual maintenance required to secure the product against known security vulnerabilities. Within the past 48 months, Exchange Server has been found to contain at least 27 security vulnerabilities.

    Continually installing patches to resolve security vulnerabilities in Exchange Server and its dependent systems can be a very extensive endeavor. Patching a complex system such as Exchange Server requires a non-trivial effort, including activities such as monitoring security advisories, researching security vulnerabilities, implementation and testing of security-related patches, and other time consuming tasks.

    Unlike NetMail XE, which embeds its own limited Web server to provide WebMail, Exchange Server relies upon Microsoft's IIS to deliver Outlook Web Access. Within the past 48 months, IIS has been found to contain at least 160 vulnerabilities, including the notable CodeRed and Nimda viruses:
    • The CodeRed worm-type virus attacks IIS by exploiting an Unchecked Buffer overflow vulnerability that compromises security by giving system-level privileges to the remote attacker. The worm further executes a Denial of Service attack on a Federal Web site, and undertakes sophisticated efforts to propagate itself. Damage from CodeRed has been estimated at $2.6 billion worldwide (source: Computer Economics, Inc.).

    • The Nimda virus follows in CodeRed's footsteps by again exploiting vulnerabilities in Microsoft's IIS server. Computer Economics Inc. estimated that Nimda infected over 2.2 million systems on September 20, 2001, 65% of which were servers. The company estimated the cost associated with downtime and cleanup for this 24 hour time period alone, primarily applicable to Exchange customers, to be $531 million.

  • Exchange is more expensive. Most importantly, NetMail XE costs radically less than Microsoft's Exchange. While NetMail XE licensing is based upon low per-user pricing, Exchange fees are based upon purchase of a server license as well as an expensive per-user fee (a "Client Access License," usually referred to as a "CAL"). Furthermore, because the basic Exchange CAL solely enables access from POP, IMAP or RPC-based clients such as Outlook, customers must purchase an additional second CAL for each user in order to enable access to Outlook Web Access (WebMail), thus substantially increasing costs.

    Considering software costs alone for a solution including the e-mail server, WebMail, spam blocking and calendaring, Microsoft's Exchange ranges from 591% more expensive for 10 users to 3,337% more expensive for 250 users.

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     Novell NetMail XE pricing versus Microsoft Exchange 2000

     Comparison of per-user software pricing offered by Novell and Microsoft

However, due to the very high complexity of Exchange, customers should be aware that the Total Cost of Ownership for Exchange may actually be many times greater. Gartner, a highly respected analyst firm, performed an extensive survey in September 1999 in an attempt to determine the Annual Cost of Operations associated with groupware products. Their study surveyed actual customers implementing 50 or more user seats to determine the costs associated with system management, administration and administrator training, operations, maintenance, end-user support, second-level support and troubleshooting. The results of the study found that the median Annual Cost of Operations for Microsoft Exchange to be $313 per user per year. Note that this figure is substantiated by an independent report from Giga, posted on Microsoft's own Web site, which estimates that such costs total $969 over three years.

When the Annual Cost of Operations are combined with the high software costs of Exchange, small business customers will find that Exchange (software plus operational expenses) may cost a startling median of $1090 per user over the three-year lifetime of the collaboration solution, a 10,854% increase over the median $9.95 (software-only) cost of NetMail XE. While inclusion of actual Annual Cost of Operations would increase the Total Cost of Ownership for NetMail XE, such costs would most commonly be exceptionally minor (unlike Exchange) due to its extreme simplicity of management and superlative ease of use, thus they would most commonly have little impact on the cost comparison shown at right.

Novell NetMail XE clearly represents a superior small business solution, providing advanced functionality and security at a small fraction of
the complexity and cost of Microsoft's solution.

     Estimated per-user cost of Exchange over three years


NetMail XE is a robust, standards-based collaboration solution that combines simplicity, powerful capabilities and low cost to thoroughly meet the needs of small business. NetMail XE provide the high performance necessary to handle even the heaviest messaging loads with ease, high reliability to ensure that collaboration services are always available, low cost of ownership and minimal impact on your administrative duties due to its affordable price and extremely simple setup and administration, and low impact on your technical support efforts due to its seamless integration with popular e-mail clients and professional, highly intuitive interfaces.

While many alternatives for small business collaboration may be considered, none match the value and cost effectiveness of NetMail XE. ASP-based solutions are functionally limited and expensive. Competitive standards-based solutions are immature, incomplete, complex and high-priced. Microsoft's Exchange Server, while also vying for small business customers, is amazingly more complex and astonishingly more costly. When compared with NetMail XE's simplicity, advanced features and low cost of ownership, there simply isn't any competition to consider.
If you're looking for a solution to your small business collaboration needs, NetMail XE is the superior standards-based choice.

© 2002 Novell, Inc. All rights reserved. Novell, the Novell logo and GroupWise are registered trademarks, and NetMail is a trademark of Novell, Inc. in the United States and other countries.

*ActiveSync, Microsoft, Windows and Windows NT are registered trademarks, and Outlook is at trademark of Microsoft Corporation. Netscape Communicator is a trademark of Netscape Communications Corporation. Eudora and Qualcomm are registered trademarks of Qualcomm, Inc. McAffee and NetShield are registered trademarks of Network Associates, Inc. InnoculateIT is a registered trademark and Computer Associates and eTrust are trademarks of Computer Associates International, Inc. Carrierscan is a trademark of Symantec Corporation. HotSync is a registered trademark and Palm is a trademarks of Palm, Inc. Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds. MailSite is a trademark of Rockliffe Systems, Inc. IMail is a trademark of Ipswitch, Inc. All other third-party trademarks are the property of their respective owners.