Internet email is the killer application for the 1990s. Five years ago, most computer users had never heard of the Internet, but today's users depend on email. Users need the capability to access their messages anytime and anywhere.

But Internet email adds work for already overworked systems administrators. Because of Internet email, administrators must troubleshoot concerns related to remote access, dial-in modems, and synchronization. Administrators must also handle Help desk calls and blindly troubleshoot problems for users who work in different time zones. Web-based email programs have helped administrators deal with Internet email, but a more practical solution is a Web-based interface to a LAN-based email platform. Microsoft's Outlook Web Access (OWA) for Exchange Server systems is a great way to provide users access to their email from any browser in the world. If you're not running Exchange Server, however, or if you're running Exchange Server with other mail platforms, consider Infinite Technologies' WebMail.

I found WebMail when I was looking for a remote email solution for my mail server, a POP3- and SMTP-based system. To be honest, I was tired of lugging my laptop through airports just so I could access my email on the road. Having implemented OWA before, I liked the concept of a Web front-end to email, so I searched for a solution that would fit my needs. It didn't take me long to find WebMail. I had WebMail running on my Web server within 5 minutes of downloading the evaluation version. The software let me access my email from anywhere in the world via a browser, but I also found that WebMail was more than a simple POP3 and SMTP solution. WebMail is a complete HTML-server solution that provides a Web-based interface to the following email platforms: POP3, Internet Message Access Protocol 4 (IMAP4), Exchange Server, Microsoft Mail, Lotus Notes and cc:Mail, and Novell GroupWise. WebMail is simple for both administrators and users to use, and the HTML pages even look like a Windows GUI.

WebMail can provide you with a variety of solutions to your remote-email needs because of its flexibility. For example, the software lets your traveling workers access their email accounts regardless of their platforms, as long as they have access to a browser. You define the email servers to connect to and the user accounts to let through. Perhaps you have a small remote office you need to connect to your corporate email platform, but you don't want to spend money on a dedicated circuit or support dial-in services on each remote PC. WebMail can provide an alternative by setting up remote PCs with Internet accounts and letting the ISP handle support concerns associated with end-user dial-up problems. By simply knowing the correct URL for your WebMail servers, you can let your remote-office users sign in to the corporate email system with a few points and clicks. Users can download and locally execute email attachments as needed. Users will appear as LAN-based email users just like everyone else.

Because of Web browsers' ubiquitous presence and email's popularity, WebMail provides you with a number of solutions. If you're responsible for getting email connectivity to as many people as possible, in as many locations as possible, you owe it to yourself to look into WebMail. Having implemented both OWA and WebMail, I prefer WebMail because of its multiplatform capabilities and setup ease.

Contact: Infinite Technologies