Demand LTS Channel for "Enterprise" Products
Idea shared by J. LaDow - 3/13/2024 at 10:53 AM
We moved from MailEnable to SmarterMail for several reasons. The TWO MAIN REASONS were instability and lack of software development progress. ME has been stuck on version 10 for 7 years. They barely manage "bug fix" releases, and those releases introduce more instability. Essentially a "broken development cycle".

We chose SmarterMail because SmarterTools has an ACTIVE development team and there is continual forward progress in the product.

Here is our problem. While we commend the continual development, we purchased an Enterprise license based on features and the concept that "Enterprise" would reflect a stable product that we could rely on TO NOT INTRODUCE BREAKING CHANGES AND BUGS IN EVERY RELEASE. In our understanding, something "Enterprise" grade should be stable and reliable, with updates thoroughly tested.

We are about to have to start our "Maintenance and Service Agreement" part of our SmarterMail Enterprise license, and it feels like we are literally paying to be beta testers of a product that should ALREADY be tested if being released as Enterprise (or even Professional). We shouldn't have to dedicate extra hours and technicians and monitoring to handle an upgrade schedule that so far has not produced an "almost" bug free build since we moved. We're currently stuck at pre-NET-8 version because it is the most stable and least bugs for our clients.

While SM's featureset and capabilities far exceed anything other than Exchange at this point, this is NOT the way to go about things if you're trying to keep your reputation intact for delivering "Enterprise" grade products. The solution is TWO release channels -- bleeding-edge and LTS. LTS should ONLY GET BUG FIXES. Limit LTS to one year if you have to - but one year is FAR BETTER to manage than what we're dealing with now as admins. I can't even imagine the nightmare of managing multiple SM installations. With how things work, they'd have to be employing dedicated people just for managing SM installs. Not to mention ALL of the headaches from UPSET CLIENTS who just want their product to work.

/end rant

[edited to fix two spelling and context errors]

MailEnable survivor / convert --

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Agree on this all

/rant mode on

I'm now tired of being a beta tester for a product that I PAY FOR and which should already be stable...
In fact, for a few days (weeks?) I've been stopping making updates, now I'm just waiting to see in the forum if a version is stable enough, otherwise I'll stick with the old one until no one complains anymore...
Also because I'm a little disappointed by the fact that some of my posts are suddenly deleted without any warning or contact from SmarterTools...

So: thanks for the product (I like SmarterMail and in my opinion it will become the best, I hope...), but my job is NOT to be a BETA TESTER... Especially by paying to do it...

Sorry for the outburst, but I think I contributed a lot in the last three years (for free or, worse, paying!!!), and now I'm tired of doing it endlessly...

/rant mode off
Gabriele Maoret - Head of SysAdmins at SERSIS Currently manages 6 SmarterMail installations (1 in the cloud for SERSIS which provides services to a few hundred third-party email domains + 5 on-premise for customers who prefer to have their mail server in-house)

Also echo that I'm very happy with the development of SmarterMail and pleased with it's features. But it would be very nice to have a LTS channel that is super stable. We've been bitten twice on new releases in the past year. Thankful for the great support team to help resolve issue, but we value stability over cutting edge.
+1 on LTS.  Frequent updates with new features is reasonable for those doing general hosting and who like to stay on the bleeding edge, but in corporate environments stability is king.

Vendors that are serious about inroads with larger corporate accounts should always offer an LTS branch, with a slow, steady release cycle.  Some of the LTS software we use makes releases no more frequently than Quarterly or Semi-Annual.  New features added to LTS have to be qualified in their general release branch for a period of time, before being merged into LTS.  When LTS adds new features, we install with confidence knowing they've already been proven stable.
+1 for not going the Microsoft route (the land where every install is a guinea pig) 
We upgraded to the latest 8797, and apparently there are "issues" with various things.  Then an update comes out and i am reading through all of the posts about the next release, and it seems like we would just be trading known bugs for new bugs, fix the old and get new ones. 
All of that is one of the reasons why we stayed on version 14 for about 7 years. We knew what we were dealing with.  
Agree completely, stability over fancy, every day.

www.HawaiianHope.org - Providing technology services to non profit organizations, low income families, homeless shelters, clean and sober houses and prisoner reentry programs. Since 2015, We have refurbished over 11,000 Computers !
I prefer to have a Stable channel and an Insider/Beta. 
Nobody wants to go back to .NET 4 is super old technology and slow.
ATM the latest build of SmarterMail is quite stable.
As an application developer for over 30 years... 

1) There is NO SUCH THING as bug free code (not just with SmarterMail, not just with Microsoft products, but ALL software that is anything more than a basic "Hello, World" application)

2) Any code that consists of more than a dozen modules is going to have interactive situations on updates where something new may impact the functionality of something old.  Should it be tested and sorted out... absolutely.   But... refer to rule 1.

3) When you are a Microsoft .NET based product (and SmarterMail is) the underlying architecture is constantly changing.  If you are using anything beyond the most basics of the .NET environment... functionality is going to change on you when the enviroment changes, not just your code.  As such, you must be constantly evolving to make things continue to work as expected.

4) OS updates impact the installed programs on a machine.  Highly specific coded modules packed into application specific DLLs remain unchanged, but when the underlying OS DLLs are altered (and are used by the application)... their functionality changes in the application as well.  This can result from deprecated operations, altered implementations, altered requirements and/or altered functionality.  The developers have NO CONTROL over this and REACT accordingly to fix their code in a software patch.  SHOULD they be aware of upcoming changes?  Absolutely.  Does Microsoft tell you every single DLL that will be altered in the upcoming service patch and what those changes are?  Absolutely NOT.

Not making excuses for SmarterMail... just speaking generally.  Your LTS solution is going to contain bugs as well... 'tis the nature of the beast.  And, the LTS will be susceptible to the same environment changes thereby requiring patches to the LTS as well moving forward.

Beta testing anything requires an active environment willing to take the risk of experiencing issues. The problem is the active environment. Who of us has a domain they can run on beta software that is regularly used a lot? And I don't just mean to send and receive test messages. Beta testing means getting ugly with it, trying to do things your clients will do that make no sense but work. 

What is needed is a way to re-process the archive from a specific date. Right now I perform an upgrade in the middle of the night after having made an image of the server as well as a backup of the data. Given the restrictions on successfully rolling back from some upgrades I try and validate as fast as possible the server is working, if not I load back the server image and lose a couple of spam messages that were received while the new server was up (and any valid emails). That doesn't allow for what happens when someone finds a problem two days later and thousands of messages in & out. If I have to reload from the image I will lose all those messages. If I try and recover from the data backup then I have to deal with any conversion issues that were going to make a roll-back fail. If we could re-process the archive from a specific date and time then we wouldn't be so scared of loosing email after an upgrade. 
+1 for mark
@Rod Strumbel - We understand the underlying environment changes, and software has to adapt.  The spirit of this thread, however, is not to suggest the LTS branch must never change.  Not the case at all.  Take Windows Server products as an example.  You can install the LTSC branch, or the more active track.  LTSC receives timely fixes (a/k/a "quality" updates) but new FEATURES are added on a much slower cadence.  This produces a more stable compute environment-- one that is regularly patched for security and functionality, but does not introduce new problems via a constant additions and new features.

THAT is what we're asking for from SmarterMail; a branch that receives new features less frequently, so we're not riding that constant "new features, new bugs" merry-go-round, while still having a branch that actively receives security and quality updates.

Meanwhile, those who like to always want the newest features can install the "active" branch and spend the time fixing bugs and stabilizing them, before those features are rolled in to the LTS branch.
What Jay Said. 

www.HawaiianHope.org - Providing technology services to non profit organizations, low income families, homeless shelters, clean and sober houses and prisoner reentry programs. Since 2015, We have refurbished over 11,000 Computers !
We dont run anything else than LTSC branch when we host clients. Uptime is everything.
+1 for an LTSC.

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