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Michigan county tackles unwieldy e-mail system

Checking e-mail is getting a lot simpler for employees of Oakland County, Mich.

Previously, they would launch one program to check internal e-mail, then exit to log onto the Internet to check external messages. Accessing e-mail from the road was even more cumbersome.

But a new appliance from Mirapoint Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif., has dramatically simplified the process. Oakland County installed the device and started testing in mid-November. About 4,000 county employees and 4,000 additional users in nearby townships use the system.

THE APPLIANCE REPLACES the county's two-part messaging system, comprised of Netscape Messenger for external e-mail and Novell GroupWise for internal e-mail, said John Mahoney, the county's director of information technology.

The county has used Netscape since the early 1990s and added GroupWise in the mid-'90s.
The Mirapoint appliance includes both hardware and software, said Brian McDevitt, the company's regional sales manager.

THE COUNTY USES the Mirapoint Internet Message Router and Internet Message Server.

The system includes two routers, which run antivirus software, and four servers. Each server has a 62G hard drive and can handle 2,000 concurrent Internet Messaging Access Protocol sessions and 4,000 concurrent Web mail sessions.

'Mirapoint's approach is protocol agnostic, allowing users access to all types of messages including e-mail, voice mail and fax from many devices at any time,' McDevitt said. 'Examples would include an IMAP client, a Post Office Protocol client, a Web interface, and Wireless Application Protocol-enabled devices of any kind, including cell phones, Palm Pilots, etc.'

Previously, county employees could check their internal e-mail from the road, but they had to jump through several hoops to do so.

'You really had to be almost a technician to go through layers of log-ons and identifications,' Mahoney said. The new system is 'a great boon for people like county commissioners.'

'Cindy Broome

Special to GCN

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