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Cost of ownership - abandon smartermail
Question asked by Dave Beckstrom - 12/11/2019 at 9:15 AM
Unanswered
I've been a customer for 16 years and I'm finding the cost of ownership for smartermail is going to drive me to have to abandon it.  I have version 15 running on windows 2008 server.  I can't cost justify buying a new windows server license in order to upgrade smartermail - which is fine I could run version 15 for a long time and be totally happy with it.   Except there are CVE's out for security issues that effect builds prior to 6985 and smartertools won't patch version 15.  That's a problem.  I understand a software company can't provide support forever.  On the other hand,  when it comes to security issues that can compromise a server they should release patches for a few versions back and not just the current build.  This whole nonsense of using builds now instead of version numbers is also what I would deem nothing more than a money grab.  So now there are no major versions where people can make a decision to pay for an upgrade or not it's just this constant release of 'builds'.

I am aware that Microsoft is dropping support for windows server 2008 as well but its an acceptable risk and Microsoft is pretty good about patching old versions if anything major is found.

Seems I can't win any more with this product. I only have about 8 customers who have been with me for about 20 years and I continue to provide email and host their site as a courtesy and for a small fee. I mostly run smartermail for my own use.

Anyone else getting fed up? Has anyone found a legit place to buy windows server licenses (e.g. 2012) for a reasonable cost? Most of what I find online are not trustworthy vendors

 

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Alex Clarke Replied
Why don’t you buy a retail or VLS license for Server 2012?

We buy via VLS and pay around £600/server license.

Given support for Server 2012 will last until 10th October 2023 (and we purchased our licenses back in 2015) that gives us a cost of £75/year.

Not bad really. 
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Dave Beckstrom Replied
Alex,

I can't find a legit place to buy  a retail license for 2012.   Amazon had one listed but it was over $1,200.00
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Alex Clarke Replied
Does it have to be retail? What about Server 2016 or 2019?
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Dave Beckstrom Replied
Alex,

You suggested VLS or Retail.  We have no need for a volume license.  It's just for one server which is why I suggested retail.  2016 or 2019 would be fine too.
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Matthew Titley Replied
I'm not going to "vouch" for any particular on-line vendor but I did find the OEM version of Windows 2019 Standard edition for $599.00 or thereabouts at a few different places...



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Alex Clarke Replied
I see the problem then. Also, I’m finding it hard to locate retail licenses online.

Could you still not go down the VLS route? I know you have a minimum of 5 items to purchase under VLS, but 1 could be a server license and 4 other items could be some cheap licenses that you don’t intend to use.

We’ve done this for our clients that require just one or two licenses. 
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I suggest you to watch www.usedsoft.com...
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echoDreamz Replied
You cannot expect ST support a decade old OS (which holds back the product) forever. Even Microsoft is pulling the plug on 2008 R2 in about a month. So while you are saying there are CVEs in SmarterMail, you are also running a very very soon-to-be EOL Operating System which will also have CVEs in the future, so it would be in your interest to move away from it.

SmarterMail requires now a minimum of Server 2012 R2, which isnt bad, considering it is a 7ish year old OS. I do believe though that SM "can" run on Server 2008 R2, it's just not the best experience since IIS 7.x doesnt support WebSockets.


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Paul Blank Replied
Because of the issues reported on this forum, I'm sticking hard with SM V15.7.6970. This release is as rock-solid as can be. The issues I have now with SM are extremely minor and usually because of user error or ignorance.* We have a split-domain with SM + Office 365 and it's working out well.** Most users are still using SM.

I don't allow anyone to run Outlook on their desktops. On mobile devices it's fine, however. Interestingly, Outlook for Android supports ST's version of EAS as well as IMAP, while Outlook for IOS only supports IMAP, FAICT.

As for Server 2012 R2, you can get a new OEM version on ebay for $55.00 or less(!), and again FAICT these are legit. I have purchased these in the past. My rule in dealing with ebay is to ALWAYS read the listing, and in this case, make sure it says the product is NEW and in a sealed package. And pay with a credit card, whether or not you use PayPal. This gives you additional leverage if you have problems. Look for listings that show the white cardboard envelope with red tape across the seal, and "Microsoft Corporation" at top left. These do NOT include CALs, nor are they required for a Web/email server, per Microsoft licensing terms. And make sure that they are actually sending you this envelope, and not an emailed activation key.

To be fair, email server + webmail software with this many features is bound to be quite a complex product. ST is clearly working very hard to make the latest release of SM work well. Nonetheless, I'm going to stay with what works for me and my clients day in and day out, for the time being.

*Last night a user moved tens of GBytes of email around, and exceeded their allotted limit, taxing the server and making their email access inaccessible, not to mention shutting down their account. Can't blame this on ST. Took me a while to sort it out, but email kept coming and going for other users. I did stop/restart the SM service a couple of times, and had to do this during the workday today because of ongoing glitches in that user's account, but in a company with 40 users, this was acceptable. It didn't take long. And I don't use the A/V product that can be purchased with SM. I use an external cloud service for this filtering, in addition to basic O365 filtering.

**Setup for the split domain took some work, and it's not clear in SM just how to do this. Indeed, some of the settings are a bit backwards with respect to how I've got it configured, but it's all good. Working well for many months.
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Alex Clarke Replied
I’ve always understood the OEM licenses cannot (under the license conditions) be installed on hardware that’s already in use. They have to be installed on new hardware and the software can not be transferred to another machine (unlike retail and VLS).
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Paul Blank Replied
I have always installed OEM Windows server software on new hardware. As a practical matter, one could conceivably deem the risk acceptable when installing on older hardware, especially if the license itself is legit.

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Alex Clarke Replied
I agree, but it’s probably against the license agreement with MS. 
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Dave Beckstrom Replied
I would like to do an upgrade in place.  I will check out ebay and see maybe I can find a non-oem at a reasonable price.


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Douglas Foster Replied
Normally, SmarterMail cost of ownership is compared to Microsoft Exchange, and in that comparison it always wins.

Larger businesses are moving to virtual server environments, where replacing an operating system is independent of replacing hardware.

But yes, there is no alternative to replacing hardware and operating system eventually.  The hardware vendors drop maintenance support because of parts availability.  Microsoft drops support because it increases their revenue while reducing their costs.   Application vendors are reluctant to continue supporting a product that the operating system and hardware vendors have abandoned, and they also have costs associated with continuing to support old configurations

CVE concerns affect both the SmarterMail application and the host environment.   You cannot complain about an absence of patching from SmarterTools if you are willing to live without patches to an unsupported Windows operating system.

It sounds like the real problem is an insufficient customer base.  It is tough as nails to keep a business alive.   I have seen many die, which is why I have never become an entrepreneur.  You have my respect for trying.
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Paul Blank Replied
I have read that 80% of Fortune 500 companies are already on Microsoft Cloud. And many others are using Google's G-Suite. That's hard to fight back against at this time. 

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