Ramachandran founded Mirapoint in 1997; he presently serves as President
and CEO. Mirapoint's vision was to offer an all-in-one messaging appliance
as opposed to a shrink-wrapped software package to be installed on existing
servers. The company was incorporated in 1998 with venture capital funding
from MKS ventures and WorldView Technology Partners. A third round of
venture capital funding was obtained in September 1999 from Goldman Sachs,
Amerindo Investment Advisors, Inc., Franklin Small Cap Growth fund, and
first product was the M1000, released in 1998, which was designed with
the IT/ISP technical organization in mind. Typical ISP messaging gurus,
when they can be found, claim salaries reaching above $200,000 (USD) making
support an extremely costly issue. Mirapoint built a messaging appliance
with the aim of "ease of administration", enabling start-up ISPs and smaller
technical organizations to take advantage of robust messaging features
without the need for highly skilled support personnel.
1999, Mirapoint released two lines of Messaging Appliances (MA), the ES
Series (Enterprise Series) and the SP (Solution Provider Series). Licensing
has been configured on a "per box" as opposed to "per seat" basis to suit
the needs of growing companies who don't want to be bothered by license
accounting. All boxes come in different physical configurations and are
all Intel based systems. The actual messaging server is a revamped open-source
sendmail system coupled with a proprietary (patent pending) database
and proprietary file system.
is the first dedicated Messaging Appliance to make its presence felt within
the highly competitive Internet message space. According to Larry Frank,
Vice President of Business Development, Mirapoint views Software.com as
its primary competition, however Software.com's service is not a "Messaging
Appliance". Due to the infrastructure of Internet based messaging, we
also view Sendmail, Inc.'s sendmail product as a competitor.
Strategy and Trajectory
200 series Mirapoint appliance comes preloaded with the operating system
and messaging platform, essentially ready to go after a few configuration
settings. The Mirapoint appliances are all rack mount systems and have
on board 10/100 MBps network interface cards (NIC). The appliance also
includes a configured drive array, using IBM UW-SCSI 10,000 RPM drives,
an LS120 Floppy Drive, RAM, Processor, and an internal Uninterruptible
Power Supply (UPS). The SP series has an external drive cage and external
UPS. The software configuration also incorporates Trend Micro Anti-Virus
software and an Anti-Spam/Anti-Relay configuration.
the messaging appliance has been mounted, attached to the network with
an RJ-45 connection, and powered on; you are ready for the base configuration.
In order to get "up and running" you must have at least one Domain Name
Service (DNS) server and optionally, a Lightweight Directory Access Protocol
(LDAP) server. The messaging appliance has a keypad, very similar to a
basic calculator, so the administrator can provide the machine with an
IP Address, a Subnet Mask, a Default Gateway and a Numerical password
to the device.
the basic network information is provided, the administrator simply launches
a web browser and points it to the IP address of the messaging appliance
and downloads the Mirapoint Java Client. Administration can also be performed
via command line switches, but we prefer the desktop client. The first
configuration component is the setup screen (Figure I). The Domain Name
must be set, the Host Name or Server Name must be set and the correct
time zone selected, in addition to the critical setting of the DNS IP
address. The interface is intuitive and easily navigable.
I - Setup Screen
next administrative setting is User configuration. Our complaint here
is that you cannot add additional user information beyond a name. There
are no fields for contact information and there is no shared scheduling
component. Mirapoint did make the creation of Users and Mailboxes simpler
by allowing automatic creation of the associated mailbox. Another complaint
is there is no way to bulk user creations or deletions through the Graphical
User Interface (GUI). However the task can be accomplished via a command
line switch, an approach that does not appeal to non tech-savvy administrators.
Figure II - User Configuration Screen
has also included a Forwarding and Auto reply, server based component.
Administration is simple, but once again bulk administration is not available
via the GUI. (Figure III)
III - Forwarding and Auto Reply Screen
List creation is also available through the GUI interface which does allow
for bulk user administration. Multiple users can be selected at one time
and either added or removed from any distribution list on your Mirapoint
system. (Figure IV)
Figure IV - Distribution Lists Screen
anti-spam/anti-relay configuration is also simple through the GUI. Simply
adding undesired domains to "Ignored Domains" can block all e-mail emanating
from them. Anti-relay is enabled by default and any domain which mail
must be routed to must be manually added. (Figure V)
V - Junk Mail Screen
Storage section allows an administrator to view used and available space
quickly and easily and will also allow an administrator to configure disks
when necessary. (Figure VI)
Figure VI - Storage Screen
Mirapoint administration client allows you to also administer services
directly. Mirapoint supports SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol),
NIS (Network Information Service), SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol),
POP (Post Office Protocol) and IMAP (Internet Mail Access Protocol). All
these services can be turned on or off in any combination, allowing an
organization to select only what it needs. (Figure VII)
VII - Services Screen
Mirapoint offers remote network management monitoring for the messaging
appliance(s) via SNMP. In addition the backup system has been configured
to allow a "shell" restore in the event of a disaster recovery scenario.
In other words, all mailboxes (Up to 200,000 on the upper level systems)
can be restored with user properties and an empty mailbox, within 20 minutes.
This gets the end user up and running as quickly as possible. Once the
users are live on the mail system, mail restore can run in the background
to repopulate the end user's mailbox.
Mirapoint believes it will be successful due to ease of administration
and total cost of ownership (TCO). The SP 1500, a Mirapoint Messaging
Appliance, designed for an Internet Service Provider (ISP) to accommodate
200,000 users would cost $121,620 USD including licensing. Which, without
administrative costs, based on 200,000 users comes out to $0.60 per mailbox,
making this system an extremely viable option to ISPs and ASPs.
1500 Base Cost =
GB Storage =
is strong in ease of administration and cost of ownership. We expect Mirapoint
to become tightly aligned with both Cisco Systems and IBM Global Services.
Cisco systems already has 30 Mirapoint Messaging Appliances in production
within their technical organization and IBM Global Services has already
been signed up to provide support for Mirapoint messaging clients. We
expect a major announcement within the next 60 days from Mirapoint, indicating
a major messaging service contract with IBM Global Services.
primary weakness is name recognition. Mirapoint has taken a box and added
a proprietary database, a proprietary operating system and a highly "tweaked"
version of open source sendmail. Mirapoint admits that they have lost
sales due to both lack of name recognition, and fear of an entirely proprietary
system. The majority of IT decision makers are unwilling to be pioneers
within the messaging industry and prefer to stick with tried and proven
systems such as sendmail, Microsoft Exchange, Lotus Notes and Novell GroupWise.
interface leaves something to be desired. While the Mirapoint Java client
is functional and easily navigable, the lack of simplified "bulk administration"
is non-existent. Administrators must shell out to a command prompt and
use interfaces to achieve bulk administration results. While command line
interfaces are not a concern for the highly technical, they are intimidating
to the novice administrators the product is aimed at.
thing Mirapoint needs to do is allocate funds to marketing to increase
name recognition and brand name awareness. Much of this may be accomplished
via upcoming announcements with IBM Global Services and Cisco Systems,
however more is needed in the present.
to brand name awareness, educating the IT decision maker on the internal
workings of the system outside of a direct sales cycle will be another
key to Mirapoint's success. Due to the proprietary nature of the product,
administrators can be defensive, and in some cases concerned about the
negative repercussions from an implementation of an unknown product. Mirapoint
must go beyond simply attending trade shows and offering free education
"breakfast" sessions to raise the comfort level bar within the messaging
Mirapoint product is a good all-in-one messaging system for an Internet
Service Provider or internal technical organization. We would not recommend
the Mirapoint messaging appliance for the typical corporate environment,
due to its lack of collaboration features such as scheduling.
Mirapoint supports IMAP, collaborative features such as shared folders
with access controllers and filters are available. The proprietary components
of the appliance function well and coexist happily. The decreased cost
per mailbox is a key to ISPs as the number of Internet Mailboxes continues
to outpace global population growth.
the Mirapoint messaging appliance may not be for everyone, if you have
tens of thousands of users requiring basic point-to-point e-mail and a
slim wallet, take a look at Mirapoint when evaluating your next messaging