ServersMaking Lyrical Music With Lyris ListManager

Making Lyrical Music With Lyris ListManager

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ListManager: Professional, highly scalable, membership-oriented list server with a complete feature set for managing and tracking messages and replies

Lyris ListManager sings solo as a professional, membership-oriented list server capable of scaling from hundreds to hundreds of thousands of messages per hour. It offers an impressive environment for creating, managing, and tracking messages while taking a proactive stance against spam.

The iris, flower
that sends beautiful petals:
Lyrical emails
Lyris haikus

Few servers out there inspire poetry, but then, few servers are positioned the way Lyris Technologies’ ListManager is.

Two things stand out immediately about ListManager: It’s designed for “serious” professional mailing (i.e., situations where messages in the hundreds of thousands per hour are anticipated), and it promotes the idea of membership mailing — meaning the use of e-mail messages should be legitimate (i.e., not spam). There are many freeware, shareware, and bundled (often with mail servers) list servers, so it’s a fair question to ask what a list server can offer that will justify paying for it, especially at ListManager’s price point.

In a nutshell, ListManager offers high capacity and performance in an equally impressive environment for creating, managing, and tracking messages.

Consider the Setup

ListManager is sold by feature set levels: Standard, Professional, and Enterprise versions. We tested the Standard version. Within each version are levels of performance ranging from Silver (200 members, 10K/hour) up to Extreme (5 million members, 300K/hour). Fees also depend on the database manager used. Initially, we wondered about this relatively complex licensing schema, but it does fit the commercial/professional orientation of the product where it’s expected that organizations will calculate a cost/benefit position.

Also arguably fitting for a professional list server, Lyris recommends ListManager run on a dedicated machine, which must be always on, have a full-time dedicated connection to the Internet with a minimum of 128K bandwidth, and run with at least 512 MB of RAM. As the ListManager versions scale up, so do the requirements. The Diamond level, for example, may run at 200,000 messages per hour and require at least two T1 connections.

For organizations considering a professional product like Lyris, it should not be news that assembling viable mailing lists (with an appropriate database management system), linking the lists and e-mail messages to a list server, and then monitoring the results, is no small undertaking. While removing some of the sharp corners in the process, ListManager still requires time and expertise to configure properly — and the admonition given by Lyris to upgraders: Work first with a test machine, should apply to almost everyone.

ListManager incorporates its own mail server, which means that it must often coexist with other mail servers. While it is interoperable with some of the major mail server systems (e.g., Microsoft Exchange), we ran into some difficulties with a lesser-known mail server that happened to be on our system. Again, the safest approach is to put ListManager on a clean, dedicated server.

Also part of the setup for ListManager is (in most cases) linking it to supported database managers: Microsoft Database Engine (MSDE), Microsoft SQL Server 7 or 2000, PostgreSQL 7.1.3, Oracle 9. Although this covers some major database systems (minus IBM DB2), other list servers feature ODBC or JDBC connections to a much broader list.

No Spam Here

Lyris Technologies is big on “opt-in” (or subscriber) mailing lists. So are we, but there’s no denying that any list server can be used to promulgate spam. Two points make Lyris different in this respect: The company makes and markets a mail-filtering product (Spam Catchers), and it takes its opt-in philosophy seriously. For example, it offers support for opt-in (or drop-out) via both e-mail and Web browser. Company literature highlights the idea of membership subscription as being crucial to the success of e-mail, which is a proactive way of being anti-spam.

In general, ListManager provides an environment for managing e-mail for a list of members and is distinguished by providing features for all aspects of the “mailing cycle” (mail creation, delivery, management, and tracking). For example, new in release 7.0 is the ability to develop templates (in the Template Wizard) to create standardized mailing messages. The template facility doesn’t provide a highly sophisticated user interface, but it is intended to make e-mail creation easier and all of a piece with the list management. To end it is successful. Then there are new reports (20 or more depending on version) that help track the results of the mailings.

Well-Rounded Features

As we worked out way through the features of ListManager, we were impressed with its depth and polish. Whether it was the support for many types of e-mail lists: marketing, newsletter, corporate announcement, or discussions (moderated or unmoderated), or the ability to customize just about anything (e.g., headers, footers) with or without programming, the completeness of this management system, especially in the Pro and Enterprise versions, will be appealing to users seeking maximum control over the mailing process.

Lyris ListManager is a mature and robust product well-suited for professional e-mailers. However, organizations that don’t require all the tracking and financial features of the advanced versions will likely find the standard version both affordable and distinguished enough from the run-of-the-mill list servers to be worth considering.

Pros:A complete and well-rounded environment for mail services that offers high performance and scalability (at a price)
Cons: Support of additional database systems would be an improvement

Reviewed by: Nelson King
Original Review Date: 10/2/2003
Original Review Version: 7.0 (Standard)

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