Founded six years ago, EMUMAIL, Inc. offers a highly customizable and
responsive webmail solution.
by Jeff Goldman
[October 27, 2004] (http://www.isp-planet.com/services/webmail/2004/emumail.htmlisp-planet.com)
Email a colleague
EMUMAIL, Inc. was founded in 1998 by Matt Mankins, who had written the
code a few years earlier as an undergraduate student at the University
of Miami. "He saw the opportunity for using the Web to give access
to e-mail," says Ron MacDonald, EMUMAIL's Director of Sales. "At
that point, no one else had gone that route."
Three years ago, Mankins sold EMUMAIL to the software development company
AccuRev, and founded a funky bookstore in Cambridge, Massachusetts. About
a year later, board member Semyon Dukach bought EMUMAIL back and took
over the company as its CEO.
Since Dukach's purchase of the company, MacDonald says, there's been
a renewed focus on development—EMU Webmail is now in version 6.0.
"Semyon has spent time and money improving the code, shoring it up
from a stability standpoint, and adding lots of features," he says.
Speed and configurability
For ISPs, MacDonald says, EMU Webmail's greatest strength lies in its
configurability. "The ISP has complete control over the interface,"
he says. "They can make it into whatever they want. If they want
to allow or disallow a feature, it can be as simple as changing the HTML
to prevent access to the switch that controls that feature—they
can dumb it down, or they can give the user a lot of options."
The speed of the solution, he adds, is another key selling point. "The
biggest issue for webmail is response time," MacDonald says. "People
are used to PC-based clients that don't have to refresh every time you
enter a command, so speed is important. That's what FastCGI brings to
Webmail 6.0: It's very responsive and quick."
EMU Webmail is available in four editions (pricing, descriptions), each
of which supports a different number of users. "What the license
editions primarily offer is lower cost for smaller companies that have
hopes of growing, but aren't there yet," MacDonald says. "There's
no need for them to buy the full-fledged Service Provider edition when
they can buy a lower cost edition and then upgrade as needed."
While EMU Webmail doesn't come bundled with an email server, a Web Signup
module is available which enables users both to sign up for new accounts
online and to change passwords in established accounts.
The strongest argument for working with a company likely EMUMAIL rather
than choosing an open source webmail solution, MacDonald says, is the
support that's available. "We have some long-term customers who've
used this product from the beginning and upgraded with us every step of
the way, and they've done that because of our support," he says.
That support, MacDonald says, can extend to remote installation as well.
"We even install it remotely for some of our customers, who either
figure they can make better use of their manpower, or perhaps aren't quite
as fluent in UNIX or Linux as they'd like to be," he says. "Just
give us root access, and we'll install it for you. You can't have that
done with an open source product, obviously."
At the same time, MacDonald says, some people choose open source solutions
because of their flexibility—but EMU Webmail is able to compete
on that level as well. "Access to every element of the HTML is a
key benefit of Webmail 6.0," he says. "It even supports embedded
Perl. If they want to build applications into the interfaces themselves,
they can do that."
Version 6.0 of EMU Webmail, MacDonald says, was released about six months
ago, and the next major release is expected within the next six months.
"We're very responsive to customer input," he says. "If
someone wants to accomplish something and the code doesn't allow it, but
it's simple enough for us to do it, we do it, and we deliver it within
a matter of weeks, not months."
A quick response
Bill Mitchell is the president of Escalet, Inc., a software company based
in Walnut Creek, California, which provides customized intranets and Web
solutions to over 300,000 accounts. The company initially offered its
own proprietary webmail solution to its customers, but found that most
clients preferred to use a recognized commercial package—and so,
five years ago, Escalet began using EMU Webmail.
The biggest selling point for EMUMAIL's offering, Mitchell says, was
its flexibility. "We could skin it any way we wanted," he says.
"A lot of these people want to make it look like their own, for branding
purposes. It's very flexible in how you can set it up, so that made it
a pretty good solution for what we were trying to accomplish."
In the five years that Escalet has been working with EMUMAIL, Mitchell
says the experience has been excellent. "When you run a Web-based
e-mail system, there are all kinds of weird anomalies that can happen—and
they've been very good about providing technical support," he says.
"If we find little glitches, we call them, and we get a response
generally within 24 hours where they actually fix the code."
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