ServersGordano Mail Server, Stand-Alone or Standard Part?

Gordano Mail Server, Stand-Alone or Standard Part?

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Gordano Mail Server: Stand-alone mail server that is part of a messaging suite.

Gordano Mail Server is the center of Gordano Messaging Suite, an integrated suite of products that fill a variety of messaging needs. It begs the question: If a whole is greater than the sum of its parts, is there value in the main part, alone?

Gordano Mail Server is the centerpiece product of Gordano Messaging Suite, a constellation of products that work together to create a variety of messaging solutions. Although designed as one member of this ensemble cast, the Mail Server can also stand alone, priced individually from the other components of the suite. As an independent product in its own right, Gordano Mail Server aims to provide a cross-platform, resource friendly mail server strong on the core competencies.

The Mail Server is downloaded as part of the Messaging Suite package. At almost every turn, Gordano blurs the line between the Mail Server proper and the messaging suite. They even share the same abbreviation, which further blends the distinction, and adds an element of confusion.

When the 22-MB installer is downloaded, it includes 10 Gordano products that make up the Messaging Suite. Most require separate license fees to function beyond the initial trial period. The installer defaults to preparing every package for installation, so to install just the Mail Server you must uncheck everything. Whether by bug or by design, the installer also includes the separately priced Gordano Archiver product with the Mail Server install, although it is not listed among the optional packages. The Archiver ($1,521 for 50 users) is designed primarily for Sarbanes-Oxley compliance.

The 40 MB install is likely just the tip of the iceberg, considering that a mail server with any significant number of users will accumulate many messages. Installation is straightforward and assumes the person installing knows the basic network details — domain name, IP address, and so forth. After creating a postmaster password, a browser is launched with the administration interface. The admin interface requires Java be installed on the browsing client. The interface itself is labyrinthine. The Explorer-like navigation panel is divided into reasonably sensible categories, although there are no task-based wizards or recipes. Within the categories, most configuration options are bundled in a window that makes generous use of tabs, with many pages of tabs crammed into each configuration category. The server is highly configurable but can require digging many levels deep to find everything.

Gordano’s claim for resource friendly operation is supported by the very granular parameters available for fine-tuning traffic and bandwidth usage on each mail protocol — SMTP, POP3, and IMAP4. Administrators can configure throughput limits and connection limits per IP, per time period.

The Gordano Mail Server includes an HTTP/FTP/SSL forward and a reverse proxy server, a somewhat curious addition to a mail server but useful for some organizations. A reverse proxy server, in contrast to a conventional or “forward” proxy server, routes HTTP(S) traffic initiated outside the network into the LAN. A typical use for a reverse proxy server is to maintain one public address — say, — which is routed internally to a server farm with its own private internal addresses.

Because Gordano Mail Server is just one component of the Messaging Suite, it lacks some features generally expected in a typical stand-alone mail server. In particular, anti-virus and anti-spam support are sectioned off into Gordano’s Anti-Virus and Anti-Spam products, which are licensed separately from the Mail Server. It would, however, have been nice to have at least basic anti-spam content filtering in the base Mail Server, with perhaps Bayesian filtering and SPF support reserved for the add-on product. However, for enterprising organizations, Gordano’s custom MML — or Mail Meta Language — can be used to script parsing and processing of e-mail against any custom routines.

Likewise, collaboration features, such as calendaring and instant messaging, are also reserved for other separately licensed packages in the Messaging Suite.

Gordano’s own literature seems ambivalent about Mail Server as a stand-alone product, a perspective that can’t help but seep through the product experience itself. Although it covers the core competencies of a robust mail server, Gordano Mail Server’s features and pricing strongly suggest it is designed to excel with its partners in collaboration.

Pros: Cross-platform; Resource friendly; Highly customizable.
Cons: Limited functionality for the price without Messaging Suite add-ons; Cluttered administration interface; No basic anti-spam support.

Reviewed by: Aaron Weiss
Original Review Date: 11/23/2005
Original Review Version: 11.0

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