Asking me to select my favorite software is akin to asking me which of my children I love the most. If you're a parent, you know that you always love your children, but some days you might like one more than another.

Having spent many years reviewing products, I use only those that I feel are the pick of the litter. Being exposed to so many applications gives me the chance to see what's going on in almost any field of application development, and I get to see a lot of neat stuff. But for my pick for the best software for 1998, I have to stick with an application that runs 24 X 7 and, in the 3 years I've been running its various incarnations, has never let me down. The product is MetaInfo's Sendmail for NT.

For the price, the product was one of the best SMTP/POP3 mail implementations for Windows NT. I say was because Check Point Software Technologies bought MetaInfo in 1998. After the purchase, Check Point sold Sendmail for NT to another company, Sendmail, Inc. As I write this article, Sendmail says it also will sell Sendmail for NT, but first the company promises a complete upgrade that will bring Sendmail for NT in-line with Sendmail's UNIX products. (The person who heads the company created the original UNIX Sendmail product.)

Why do I like this software? My Sendmail for NT implementation processes about 30,000 to 50,000 messages weekly and hosts 3 mail domains, 4 mailing lists, and about 50 POP3 user accounts. The software performs these functions with minimal CPU utilization on a dual-Pentium II 300MHz server with 128MB of RAM. The same server hosts six low-traffic Web sites (totaling 200 hits a day), and the mail server never impinges on Web-service resources.

The software has been absolutely worry-free. I use the Web-based management console only when I need to update user accounts or to add or modify my mailing lists. The remote-management tool lets you configure and control almost every aspect of the mail server software. I use the console applet on the mail server only when I need to designate authorized IP addresses that remotely administer the server. I haven't had any problems performing remote administrative tasks from Windows NT Magazine's Colorado offices to the server in my Pennsylvania office.

The software does have its warts; the majordomo (mailing list) implementation is nonstandard, so the software either doesn't respond to standard majordomo list commands or behaves differently. For example, using the word subscribe on majordomo-based mailing lists is a major mistake. Majordomo lists ignore the word subscribe unless it's the only text in a message to the list (i.e., the message doesn't contain subject information).

Sendmail for NT isn't the best-written NT application. The software shows its UNIX roots especially in the way it handles heavy message loads. In handling heavy loads, the software spawns multiple processes, launching as many as 8 to 10 copies of itself to process inbound messages. A well-written NT application would spawn child processes, as needed, to handle the volume of incoming messages.

But the bottom line is this: The software works. Even in a situation where a general power failure has brought down my office for a week, Sendmail for NT had little trouble processing the tens of thousands of messages that my ISP was storing for me until my site came back online. Sendmail for NT has worked as I expected it to, given me little to no trouble, been easy to manage when necessary, and otherwise remained in the background doing its job. What more can you ask from any application?

Sendmail for NT
Contact: Sendmail * 877-363-6245
Web: http://www.sendmail.com