We’re very pleased to announce the BETA of SmarterMail 17.x! Along with a number of exciting new features that will be part of 17.x, this BETA will be different than those in the past.
In an effort to highlight features and to give participants time to test and provide feedback on what they see, we’ll be releasing features in multiple phases. Below we’ve listed relevant features that are part of Phase One of the BETA. Be sure to visit the SmarterTools Community and join in the discussions with other BETA participants!
The ability to secure and lock down email accounts is crucial in today’s online world. SmarterMail 17.x offers 2-Step Authentication, which is secondary authentication and verification of account ownership using popular authentication apps like Google Authenticator as well as verification using a secondary email address. In addition, SmarterMail will automatically generate strong “application passwords” that users will be able to use with third-party applications, such as email clients. Regardless of the authentication method used, accounts are secured with user-generated passwords PLUS a secondary authentication method of their choosing.
Setting up 2-Step Authentication is simple for end users as well as domain administrators. In addition, domain administrators can opt to force 2-Step Authentication, so that all users of the domain are required to set it up, or make it optional, and let users decide for themselves. We’ve spent a lot of time making 2-Step flexible so that system administrators and domain administrators can choose how they want to introduce it to their end users.
Team Workspace Changes
Team Workspaces offers true team collaboration, and with the improvements coming in SmarterMail 17.x, the ability to interact with your team gets even better. For example, if you’re part of a team that’s constantly in contact with each other, such as when you’re working together on a specific project, you now have a central location for documents, files and live chat. A workspace can also be set up to include external customers, clients, contractors or anyone. SmarterMail 17.x also introduces our own, custom-built video and/or audio chat for up to 8 participants using WebRTC -- no third-party product or service is used, and everything works right within the browser so a separate app isn’t required either!
Workspace organizers can even set the video quality to help preserve bandwidth for video conference participants. In addition, participants have full control over their own audio and video, so they can mute or enable either as needed during a meeting. However you use Team Workspaces, all of the communication is internal to SmarterMail, and works on both desktop and mobile!
New Instant Messaging
When one-on-one voice and video is needed between users of a domain, Instant Messenger is the perfect solution. Discussion can start in live chat, then move to voice and/or video as needed, on desktop or mobile! Of course, Instant Messenger also includes file sharing and, just as with Team Workspaces, users have full control over their own audio and video feeds. And just to keep things fun, emojis are coming to Instant Messenger later in the BETA!
With the changes to Team Workspaces and Instant Messaging, Smartermail is moving beyond an email product and helps companies improve how they communicate. And best of all, we’re including all of these features right within SmarterMail itself, at no additional cost.
Improved Sharing of Calendars
Sharing of calendars is an important part of any business. With SmarterMail 17.x, users will be able to share BOTH primary calendars -- such as My Calendar -- as well as additional calendars that they create. Best of all: they’ll be able to share these calendars and have them work across all protocols that support calendar sharing. That means Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync (EAS), Exchange Web Services (EWS), CalDAV (WebDAV) and our up and coming implementation of MAPI for Microsoft Outlook on Windows.
In an upcoming BETA Phase we will be offering the same functionality to Contacts, Tasks and Notes.
Account Password Management
Passwords and account security have always provided some colorful commentary in our Community. With the introduction 2-Step Authentication plus the future security enhancements we have planned, there will be plenty to discuss in the Community. As you evaluate SmarterMail 17.x you’ll see some changes in settings and also how and what is displayed when those settings are used. Please keep an eye out on areas where you previously had Show Passwords available and in the System Administration side when you see permissions for the creation of additional system admins. As we get deeper into the Phases of the BETA, more info will be made available.
New Gateway Features
One of the areas that received a lot of attention was the gateway functionality in SmarterMail 17.x. For example, system administrators requested that we move away from using priorities as the basis for the use of outbound gateways. So, gateways no longer use priorities. Instead, gateways can be set up in one of two ways: as a Round Robin distribution or by Specific Domains.
When Round Robin is used, all outbound mail will rotate between one or more outbound gateways set up with this gateway type. This ensures even distribution of all outbound mail between the gateways. This also means that if one gateway goes down, for whatever reason, email will still flow.
When Specific Domains is used, if the domain is configured to send its outbound mail through a specific gateway, only that domain will us that gateway. All other domains on the SmarterMail server, that do NOT have a gateway set, will send from SmarterMail and not go through the gateway.
As with every release of SmarterMail, in 17.x we’re introducing substantial changes to improve performance, increase efficiency and reduce potential downtime. Some of these include…
Moving away from XML and moving to JSON for many system and configuration files. This change will dramatically improve performance across multiple areas of the server as well as simplify future enhancements.
We’re introducing a new indexing system which will both increase the speed with how indexing works as well as reduce CPU and memory utilization on the server. In addition, the new indexing system will now work with various non-Western character sets.
We’re changing other config files that SmarterMail uses, primarily to accommodate MAPI and the new functionality that MAPI will offer. These changes will improve server performance as well as improve MAPI functionality.
We’ve also introduced IMAP improvements, which will dramatically improve server performance. Those items are in the next section...
On top of these changes there’s a dozen or more other improvements throughout to help increase speed, reduce disk/CPU and, overall, help customers.
Approximately 60% of accounts on a mail server use IMAP when syncing information to an email client. Considering the number of email accounts in the world today, that’s a LOT of back-and-forth between email clients and a mail server. Therefore, improving that interaction is important for keeping a mail server running smoothly.
With SmarterMail 17.x we’ve gone to great lengths to improve how IMAP works. Using some new commands, particularly CONDSTORE and QSYNC, we’re able to reduce the amount of information that’s returned when an email client, such as Microsoft Outlook and eM Client, syncs to SmarterMail. Instead of going to every IMAP folder in the account, and every message in every folder, there is now a flag that lets the client know when something has changed, and what that something is. In fact, these commands remove the necessity to even go into the mailbox and evaluate what has changed. This change dramatically reduces the need for SmarterMail to access group files which, in turn, reduces the amount of disk i/o and improves overall disk performance.
- Calendar Event Duplication -- This means you can create an event, and if that even needs to happen on a schedule that doesn’t lend itself to creating a recurring event, you can simply clone the original event and copy it to whatever day and time you like. You don’t need to recreate it from scratch: all invitees, notes, conference rooms can remain the same, or you can change whatever is needed and simply duplicate it to a new day and time!
- On-demand Content Filters -- It’s now possible to create one or more content filters and run them anytime you want! Normally, a content filter runs when messages are delivered to an account. With on-demand filters, you can easily run any existing, or any new, content filters on any folder you have.
- IP Rotation for SMTP -- System admins, there are times when you need to swap out an IP address for a domain, or for the mail server as a whole. For example, you’re given one by your service provider that already has a bad IP reputation. In SmarterMail 17.x, you’ll be able to swap IPs on the fly, either manually or after a certain set of criteria are met!
- Printable Calendars -- Distributing your calendar to a personal assistant has never been easier: print your Agenda, print a daily or weekly calendar..whatever you want.
- Reply to Calendar Invites - SmarterMail 17.x brings the ability to add a comment to a calendar event. If you have to reply with a “maybe” you can now let the organizer know why!
Upcoming Phases will include more new features such as improved sharing for Contacts, Tasks and Notes as well as more optimizations and improvements to how SmarterMail works. Please understand that these back end changes are vital to how SmarterMail will perform, and they help lay the groundwork for one of the most anticipated features of SmarterMail 17.x: MAPI.
For those of you waiting for MAPI, realize that we need to ensure that each new feature we release is working as expected. This is one of the primary reasons why this BETA is being run the way it is: so that each feature can receive the attention it needs during the BETA process. Also, many of the improvements and optimizations we’ve released in Phase I, and the optimizations that will be released in upcoming Phases, are there to make sure that MAPI works perfectly on release. MAPI IS coming, but it will be later in the BETA process.
One Final Note
As with ALL BETAs, we do not recommend pushing any BETA build to a full production server. This is especially true for SmarterMail 17.x. Not only will we be releasing 17.x in stages, as noted there are EXTENSIVE back end processing and configuration file changes that will absolutely and unequivocally prevent you from rolling back to a previous version of SmarterMail. Therefore: DO NOT put a BETA build of SmarterMail 17.x on any production mail server. In addition, if you’re upgrading a 16.x installation to test 17.x features -- not in a production environment, of course -- after you perform the upgrade you’ll want to let SmarterMail run so it can work through all domains and users and complete the upgrade process. This will take a little more CPU and disk as it does this. Once it’s all done, make a backup of the 17.x installation. Due to all of the back end changes, you cannot restore SmarterMail 16.x files to a 17.x server.
Getting Started with the BETA
Once you've received your BETA key, visit the SmarterMail 17.x BETA category in our Community! There, you can communicate with other testers (as well as the SmarterTools development team), view release notes for the most recent BETA releases and stay up-to-date with any additional BETA news and announcements.