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Lost an enterprise customer due to errors and missing features
Problem reported by Kenneth Knudsen - March 11, 2016 at 1:25 PM
Being Fixed
Hi
 
We have now official lost a 60 user and 700 GB mail hosting customer to Exchange hosting !!
 
The issues we have experienced are many, but some of them are major for an enterprise customer. This customer in less than a month received and send more than 120,000 emails. Some users have more than 70,000 items in their inbox and receive +200 emails in a single day.
 
We migrated them from an Exchange 2010 solution which was getting old and expensive.
 
The initial migration seemed to work fine, but then all the complaints started to come in:
 
If the mailbox is above 5 GB, forget about EAS, it do not work and only create a lot of issues. And EAS is only supported by Outlook 2013 and higher.
 
So we thought the solution would be to use IMAP and then email and big mailboxes would be resolved. But this just add another problem instead!  Now their calendar need to be moved to a Sharepoint list, so we did. But again we experience that users when they accept a meeting request it do go into their default calendar and not the Smartermail calendar, which breaks the sync to their mobile devices !!!
 
IMAP is also a lot slower to synchronize email, also a thing the customer picked up right away....
 
Then we were told to try the sourceforge caldav synchronizer, and this worked for about 10 people and then we are experiencing issues with other users. It syncs some of the items in the calendar but not all of them !!
 
We are so done with SM for any of the enterprise customers we have....
 
SM is not ready for any enterprise customer in our humble opinion...
 
Before we would consider going back to SM a few and for us very important things need to be fixed:
 
Support mailboxes as high as 50 GB (Exchange will go even higher), so lets not blindfold ourselves and think 5 GB will be enough! Enterprise want their email in their inbox not in archive folders and similar solutions.
 
Have calendar and contacts work flawlessly with the default calendar or the SmarterMail calendar. For some customers their calendar is their lifeline (this customer it was a deal breaker).
 
Some calendar entries especially recurring entries are moved back from 1 day to a month after the migration. So our customer experienced people not showing up to meetings, and they barely missed a meeting with clients from Singapore. Took some time to get the customer calmed down on that one...
 
Make the Global Address List available in Outlook.And the Mailing Lists need to be in there as well !!
 
I HOPE SM15 will address above issues, or SM will not be an alternative to Exchange. Would be nice to be able to compete with Exchange server.
 
frustrated regards,

13 Replies

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3
Paul Blank Replied
March 11, 2016 at 3:09 PM
Unfortunately, many of your concerns have been voiced on the forums, and many times over.  To name some:
 
Sync with Outlook has been dicey. For sure, Microsoft keeps changing Outlook, but many issues have existed for years, and remained that way between Outlook versions.
 
I gave up on cardav/caldav years ago, even though this has been one of ST's selling points for SM; they really never worked correctly for me.  Issues continue to be reported by others.
 
Active sync has been far from perfect in many cases.  Issues with calendar sync, groups, appointments, and the like have been reported over and over.
 
And the recent "runaway bandwidth" issue that has been reported with certain user accounts after upgrading is just plain scary.
 
It seems for some time now that ST has continued to come up with newer versions of SM without fully addressing some the issues that plagued older versions, and created new issues in the process.
 
One can only hope, as you do, that starting with V15 these issues will be addressed. Sorry to say I'm not holding my breath.  I, too, have lost SM accounts to cloud services.  I know for sure they would have stayed with SmarterMail had some of those nagging issues been addressed. And my largest SM client is now getting anxious as well.
 
So it just might turn out to be a case of too little, too late.
 
2
Robbie Wright Replied
March 15, 2016 at 12:56 PM
We have some of these same problems Kenneht. Autodiscover and EAS doesn't work correctly, so it takes autoconfig completely out of the equation, which is bad new when we big bigger customers on. 5gb mailbox limit is an issue, as is managing environments with multiple SM servers providing different roles. I'm glad to see the spam settings getting some attention in 15 so we can upload them to other gateways. If autodiscover/activesync worked right with mailboxes over 5gb, we'd be looking pretty good.
2
Ionel Aurelian Rau Replied
April 19, 2016 at 4:43 AM
We`re exactly in the same situation - we have users with 10+ GB mailboxes and they cannot sync properly with Outlook 2016 (how can we propose using the WebMail when they bought Outlook 2016 licenses?). Using ActiveSync will not work for emails and using IMAP will work fine for emails, but not for tasks, calendar, etc.. We are using a make-shift solution: Add in the user`s Outlook the same account twice: 1st with using ActiveSync, but only syncing back 1 month worth of emails, then another one using IMAP. This way the users with large mailboxes can continue using Outlook, but it`s a major hassle educating them why and when to use one or the other version of the same account in their Outlook.
 
SmarterMail desperately needs to implement MAPI over HTTPS, even if paid. I believe that all focus of SM`s developers should be solely on this until a satisfactory implementation has been achieved - afterwards bother with any other new features.
2
Tim Uzzanti Replied
April 19, 2016 at 1:21 PM
Employee Post
There have been a few comments since my last post, so I’m going to reply to a variety of them in this post…
 
1) Microsoft has been changing Outlook 2016 for Mac often and it has deviated from the RFC a bit. As you an imagine, this is causing issues.  We have NOW finalized EWS internally based on the most recent update of Outlook and believe should have EVERYTHING resolved. These fixes and our various changes will be coming out in minor release very soon, but we’re still doing some internal testing.
 
2) With regards to my comments about the use of webmail...  My comments are just suggestions to help simplify your IT management.  Many people use webmail exclusively in addition to using clients on a mobile phone or tablet. This has been a significant trend in the corporate world because email servers such as Exchange, SmarterMail and a number of other mail servers provide more complete webmail solutions, and the flexibility and reliability of webmail far surpasses what you can get with a client. Plus, webmail is essentially agnostic as it only requires a web browser. In addition, management and maintenance of webmail has significantly less cost than the purchase of, and support for, email clients like Outlook.      
 
3) The cost of clients such as Microsoft Outlook can be prohibitive and managing them can be a big headache. Because of this, you find many users running legacy clients — Microsoft Outlook 2007 is a perfect example — which aren't even being supported by their developer which can open up users and companies to the potential of security issues and massive vulnerabilities. The most forward-thinking IT departments are ones that are introducing solutions that are OS/platform independent and require little to no management. Again, this is why webmail is often a solution and it’s also another reason that we are introducing an entirely NEW interface in our next MAJOR Release! 
 
4)  There is no doubt that users do have needs that can only be met with clients such as Microsoft Outlook or emClient, and clients on iOS, Android, etc. We test our products against tons of different clients and attempt to hit as many different OSes, browser versions (mobile and desktop) and more before we releases. However, while we can replicate browser and OS combinations, we can’t replicate user environments. Our internal tests using the same version of Windows and the same desktop clients can match yours — or your users’ — but we can’t replicate their combination of hardware, not to mention any third party products, antivirus, proxy solutions, etc. that are run. We test as much as we can as often as we can, make no mistake. However, there will always be issues/problems/situations we can’t replicate, much less anticipate. The same is true for any IT department within a company.  
 
5) With regards to EAS, we are aware of some instances of users having issues.  It isn't widespread but there are cases where EAS is having issues and are working with customers to understand why!  For example, I have a 50GB mailbox and use Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and every client you can imagine.  I have about 14 clients hitting my mailbox at all times.  I do this for testing and so that I'm VERY familiar with the experience each user will have with SmarterMail.   I don't have any of the EAS issues that have been reported and neither do millions of other users... but we definitely have a handful of tickets with users not working well and re-syncing from time to time.  This is being actively worked on.
 
6) We have been slowed a bit because we have so many resources on the new Interface and introducing the new API driven architecture of our products.  What we have done is pulled a significant number of resources from the re-design and moved them over to SmarterMail to ensure we have current versions of SmarterMail as solid as possible.  Expect minor releases over the next few weeks to address most of the concerns.
 
If you have any other items, let me know.
 
 
Tim Uzzanti
CEO
SmarterTools Inc.
(877) 357-6278
www.smartertools.com
4
kevind Replied
April 21, 2016 at 6:26 AM
Tim, glad to hear that ST is focusing on enhancing the webmail experience. It's the right thing to do as desktop mail clients and protocols (IMAP, EWS) are becoming outdated. As you pointed out, email clients are expensive, difficult to set up, slow, and can't access the full feature set of the mail server.
 
My only request is that you don't impair or cripple the desktop UI so that it can run on mobile platforms. Create a webmail that is more powerful than Outlook, Thunderbird, etc. and people will stop complaining.
 
On our phones, we can continue to use an email app with ActiveSync as that's the best solution at this time. But you could make it even easier to use with this simple enhancement.
2
Tim Uzzanti Replied
April 22, 2016 at 8:22 AM
Employee Post
We actually have only 8 tickets right now in support for EAS concerns.
 
I don't see any tickets from the people in the community.
 
If you have a mailbox with an issue, please start a ticket in support.  We can't fix issues that we don't see.  Please provide Outlook version, Operating System, Desktop or Laptop.  Does "I" happen when connected to WIFI, LAN, or Hotspot?   Any ideas on how to reproduce the issue etc.
 
If you have a ticket number, please private messages me the ticket.
 
Tim
Tim Uzzanti
CEO
SmarterTools Inc.
(877) 357-6278
www.smartertools.com
2
Tim Uzzanti Replied
April 22, 2016 at 10:01 AM
Employee Post
Anyone having issues, also run this tool from Microsoft: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=36852
 
This tool will evaluate Outlook and crash dumps to understand why an issue might be occurring.  There have been instances where it will say ... "Calendar item xxx crashed Outlook and is fixed in Outlook update xxx.xxx.xx".
 
It can also help with re-syncs etc..  
 
But, we need tickets and mailbox to understand issues.  
 
Thanks,
 
Tim
Tim Uzzanti
CEO
SmarterTools Inc.
(877) 357-6278
www.smartertools.com
1
Tim Uzzanti Replied
April 22, 2016 at 11:06 AM
Employee Post
So, we reproduced a problem where Outlook deleted the message in the client and it did not delete on the server.  SmarterMail never received the request for the delete.. outlook never sent it!  Not sure how we missed this before but check out all the complaints on Microsoft's site related to the same issue and with Office365 and Exchange:
 
 
 
Tim Uzzanti
CEO
SmarterTools Inc.
(877) 357-6278
www.smartertools.com
3
Tim Uzzanti Replied
April 22, 2016 at 3:29 PM
Employee Post
Wanted to provide a final post prior to the weekend.
 
We have been able to reproduce the issue a number of times today.  Microsoft Outlook decides not to send delete requests to the server.  Microsoft Outlook will delete the message out of Outlook but will forget all about telling the server... while all other actions by a user (deletions, new messages, moves etc.) all working normal 
 
This seems to be a common issue on the Microsoft Community.
 
We are going to spend a little more time next week and will open a case with our Microsoft Representatives to get a solution from the Microsoft Outlook team.
 
Have a good weekend,
 
Tim Uzzanti
CEO
SmarterTools Inc.
(877) 357-6278
www.smartertools.com
5
Tim Uzzanti Replied
April 26, 2016 at 12:49 AM
Employee Post
We are finding some bugs in Microsoft Outlook 2016 with EAS... which might also impact other protocols.
 
The biggest issue is with the "Manage Accounts" dialogue in Outlook.  When you delete an account and re-add the account, Microsoft writes all data to the wrong outlook data file as well as sending the old deviceID and the new deviceID to the server requesting DOUBLE the data and confuses Outlook from that point forward, resulting in random results when using Outlook.
 
We have reproducible steps and logging which we are providing Microsoft. This is reminding me of our Web Hosting days around 2000... working with Microsoft VERY closely on IIS and .NET.   We were in constant communication with their teams helping them with bugs as we were pushing the platforms to new levels.
 
We have a variety of other issues that we have discovered in Microsoft Outlook 2016... but we need to reproduce them in clean environments and eliminate the possibility of the "Manage Accounts" bug being the culprit.
 
More to come....
 
 
 
 
Tim Uzzanti
CEO
SmarterTools Inc.
(877) 357-6278
www.smartertools.com
2
Ionel Aurelian Rau Replied
April 26, 2016 at 2:03 AM
Thank you for keeping us informed. We are eagerly looking forward to a minor version with improvement to EAS for Outlook 2016.
3
Tim Uzzanti Replied
April 27, 2016 at 2:38 PM
Employee Post
A SmarterMail 15.x minor will be released tomorrow!
 
This release will include many EWS fixes for Microsoft Outlook 2016 for Mac. There will be some fixes for EWS related to em Client as well. Also, there will be a few EAS fixes as well for Microsoft Outlook 2016 on Windows.  
 
More details will be available in the release notes.
 
Were not done, this is only the start.  We have some tickets still remaining from customers.  We have isolated a couple bugs in Microsoft Outlook 2016 on Windows and working with Microsoft to resolve them.
 
Thanks,
 
Tim
Tim Uzzanti
CEO
SmarterTools Inc.
(877) 357-6278
www.smartertools.com
1
BIS Techies (Rebecca and Family) Replied
November 24, 2016 at 1:05 AM
As a small business consultant for 100 of businesses, and being a Smartermail user since version 6, and an Exchange Server user since Exchange 2003, and right now Office 365, I have to say that Smartermail just doesn't cut it to be an Exchange server replacement, from an end-user perspective and experience.
 
Having said that, I do personally feel that Tim and his Team at Smartermail are doing an EXCELLENT job in getting Smartermail to be what it is today.
 
From a business, management and infrastructure management/angle as well as from a cost-factor point of view, i do think that Smartermail triumphs over Exchange in many-many ways.
 
As for the extreme pain that @Kenneth faced in the original post, I do feel that the management of client's expectations could have been better.
 
There is no way (at this juncture) that Smartermail can REPLACE an exchange connectivity when the eco-system is intended for Exchange email services. However, over time, and should there be a mail-client tool introduced, I believe a contender can surface and it will be SmarterMail.
 
Any-how, this post is an excellent read to understand viewpoints and limitations, and upgrade issues between Exchange and SmarterMail. Certainly a good read, just that both sides (angles) need to be considered when deciding the best solution for our client's business. :)

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