E-mail, Collaboration and Security

Why does it have to be so hard — and expensive — to get secure e-mail for your company? A system that keeps out viruses and other e-mail-borne threats and lets you and your employees collaborate using shared calendars and access e-mail over the Internet. Is that asking too much?

Not according to Mirapoint, a Silicon Valley-based company that specializes in secure messaging products. The company recently announced the M50, an all-in-one appliance designed to serve, secure and manage e-mail and, at the same time, provide shared calendaring, group scheduling and an address book. The appliance also includes integrated anti-virus and anti-spam software.

Mirapoint M50 E-mail
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Mirapoint’s M50 isn’t for all small businesses. In fact, it’s designed for companies with 100 to 500 employees. Craig Carpenter, Mirapoint’s director of corporate marketing, says that the M50 is the only Microsoft Exchange alternative in an appliance form, which makes it a cheaper, less complicated solution. “Appliances in general are easier to deploy, manage and maintain than are server-based solutions,” says Carpenter.

Why? It’s because appliance components are designed to work together so you don’t end up with software that conflicts with the hardware or other compatibility issues. Carpenter says that in the case of the M5, it results in better throughput, increased reliability, and smoother deployment.

“Depending on your particular setup, you can deploy the M50 in under an hour. And the integrated e-mail server and e-mail security features result in fewer vulnerabilities.”

Mirapoint M50 Shared Folders
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Taking MS Exchange as an example, Carpenter says the M5 costs less because of its all-in-one design. “You don’t need to buy separate hardware, an operating system, the application itself or management software — or the individual user licenses,” he says. “Everything you need is in the 1U box that plugs into your network.”

Big Features for Small Business
Work in just about any large company, and you’ll have access to e-mail with collaboration features, but Carpenter says that’s not always the case when it comes to smaller companies. The M50 appliance lets you access e-mail from your desktop and it also has a Web interface so that you can access e-mail remotely from any Web browser. “The M50 supports any standards-based e-mail client, such as Outlook, Eudora and Thunderbird, and it offers enterprise-class collaboration features such as shared folders and shared calendaring,” he says.

Mirapoint M50 Shared Calendar
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The appliance integrates anti-virus and anti-spam security that, according to Mirapoint, blocks hacking attempts and any type of e-mail-borne threats. “This is the first all-in-one e-mail server and security appliance,” says Carpenter.

The Price for Protection
The Radicati Group, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based technology market research firm, recently released results from its study called the SMB Market: Messaging and Collaboration Survey, 2005-2006. Figures show that small businesses estimate they spend $141 per person, per month on for messaging and collaboration. For a 100-person company, that works out to $169,200 a year.

Pricing for the M50 starts around $12,000 (for 100 people), and Mirapoint sells it in 100-user bundles. The cost for 500 users tops out in the mid-to-low twenties.

Mirapoint will sell the M50 through its VAR channel starting in December.

Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com

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