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Sendmail Matures

Written By: P. Hayes
Published On: January 1 2000

Vendor Genesis

In 1981, Eric Allman developed sendmail to route messages between disparate mail systems. Two years later, in 1983, sendmail version 4.2 was shipping with 18 different vendor UNIX systems. The product was primarily "open-source" coding, which allowed system administrators to add whatever custom configurations deemed necessary. This "open-source" code allowed sendmail to gain a strong following, which has continued to the present day. In 1991, Eric Allman unified the sendmail development volunteers and released the enhanced version of sendmail via FTP in 1992. Six years later, in March of 1998, Eric Allman and Greg Olson formally launched Sendmail, Inc. The company is privately held. The company was successfully launched with $18M (USD) is venture capital funding. By the end of the 1999 fiscal year, Sendmail, Inc. had acquired 1600 new commercial clients, resulting in both strong product and services sales. In 1999 Sendmail, Inc derived 62% of its income from product sales, and 38% from services. From a channel perspective, 68% of Sendmail, Inc.'s sales were direct, the remaining 32% was derived through channel sales. Some of Sendmail, Inc.'s clients include AMD, Pfizer, Mail.com, Lucent, Nortel, GTE, Charles Schwab and many others.

Sendmail, Inc.'s business is based upon two key components, Mail Routing and Mail Hosting. Sendmail is available for all versions of UNIX and Microsoft Windows NT platforms and accounts for 75% of the Internet's Message Transfer Agents (MTA). In a corporate environment, sendmail typically resides in two areas: 1) behind the firewall routing Inbound and Outbound Internet mail between the primary mail servers, and 2) at the firewall to route mail over the Internet. The most commonly used mail servers interacting with sendmail in a corporate environment are Lotus Notes, Novell GroupWise and Microsoft Exchange.

Vendor Strategy and Trajectory

Sendmail is continuing to target corporate environments through implementation of complimentary message routing solutions to enhance the existing collaborative messaging environment. Over 50% of Sendmail Inc.'s new sales are generated from Fortune 5000 companies, with the remaining 40% emanating from ISPs and ASPs. Sendmail, Inc. will continue to develop its channel sales through existing partners such as Merisel as well as expanding its solution provider presence.

Sendmail is developing partnerships in the Unified Messaging arena to enable the company to continue its momentum in the collaborative corporate and Internet space, with some of its partners including Trend Micro, Brightmail, VSI and Messaging Direct. The components Sendmail is targeting include Content Management, Subscription Mailing Systems, Internet Document Management and Unified Messaging. We expect additional partners to be announced as part of Sendmail Inc.'s new product release and announcement scheduled for February 7th, along with increased sendmail functionality. Sendmail Inc. will continue to provide open-source code to the user community and will derive revenue from both commercially-enhanced products and commercial support and professional services for the commercial products. Support options can be obtained on an incremental or per issue basis, ranging from incident based support to enhanced on-site support, which has been particularly popular in the ISP space.

Vendor Strengths

Sendmail's strengths lie in its Message Routing and Message Hosting Services. Sendmail's reliability and security have become well known to network administrators over the last ten years. Sendmail's built in anti-spam features and enhanced security make sendmail an ideal choice as a mail routing agent between a corporate firewall and a collaborative messaging environment. The Sendmail for NT version offers the POP3 mail hosting capabilities that were acquired from Checkpoint, allowing both ISPs and corporations greater flexibility in mailbox implementations. The cost of Sendmail is extremely appealing with an Microsoft NT POP3 implementation of $4,995 (USD) for 5,000 mailboxes. The UNIX servers are priced competitively and processor based, with the first processor costing $895 (USD) and each additional costing approximately $395 (USD). Sendmail, Inc. has expanded its market by recognizing the need for NT based solutions and implementing it. Sendmail has also moved away from a strict command line interface (with the exception of open-source code) by providing a quick and simplified shrink-wrapped installation package.

Vendor Challenges

The largest challenge facing Sendmail is its perceived image of difficult implementation and maintenance. The new graphical user interfaces allow mid level network administrators to quickly install and configure the new out-of-the-box packages. Another challenge is Sendmail Inc.'s entry into the Internet Application space. Sendmail, Inc. is taking the appropriate steps and signing with strategic business partners, but it will initially be a marketing struggle. Lotus Notes and Microsoft Exchange are well entrenched in the UM space and currently provide strong Internet tools. We believe Sendmail will face a significant challenge when attempting to expand from Mail Routing and Hosting to Internet Collaboration.

Vendor Predictions

Sendmail, Inc. was only formed in 1988, but has garnered an impressive breadth and depth of clients. Sendmail currently has 120 employees, and we expect it to double its size by the fourth quarter of 2001(Probability 80%). Expect to see enhancements to the Mail Hosting and Routing capabilities by the 3rd quarter of 2000 (Probability: 70%). Sendmail will experience a sales advantage come the beginning of February, when it announces new product enhancements and strategic business partners (Probability 90%). Expect Sendmail to mature into a full blown Internet based collaborative tool with enhanced security, anti-virus and anti-spam utilities by the 1st quarter of 2001. (Probability 80%).

Vendor Recommendations

Sendmail is taking the right steps. It is building strong strategic business partnerships with leading vendors in the Internet Application space, with more announcements expected shortly. Sendmail has already improved the graphical user interface and has made installation simpler while expanding its offering to include a version tailored to Windows NT and to Linux. One recommendation would be to increase educational and promotional opportunities through offering bi-annual equivalencies of Lotus' Lotusphere and Microsoft's Exchange Conference.

User Recommendations

Sendmail is a proven transfer agent and has been nicknamed "bulletproof". It is stable, secure and reliable and has been production proven by over 75% of the Internet's ISPs and ASPs. Corporations looking to improve security, implement spam-reducing features and enhance routing speed without displacing their existing system can turn to Sendmail. The product compliments existing environments well and its POP3 mail hosting is an extremely financially viable solution for ISPs. Sendmail should be on the short list for both corporate environments and Internet environments for mail routing and hosting.

 

 
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