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Status of Better Webmail Options?

Discussion in 'E-mail Discussions' started by BobbyDouglas, May 16, 2011.

  1. BobbyDouglas

    BobbyDouglas Active Member

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    A lot of our clients come from crappy hosts like GoDaddy and Network Solutions, both of which have very sophisticated and easy to use webmail.

    SquirrelMail, Horde, and RoundCube are ok, but they are not nearly as user friendly as they could be.

    SquirrelMail/Horde with a skin is somewhat ok, but we have to use 3rd party skins, and thus host webmail on a separate domain, which means it's not "supported" by our cPanel interface. It still works, but there's a possibility that a cPanel update can break it.

    RoundCube is extremely hard to use for internet novices. The default skin doesn't even have text to create/compose a new message - clients don't know what the image means if there's no text representing the images!

    So we're at a loss about what to do. Currently, we're running SquirrelMail on a separate domain, with a skin that makes it a little more user friendly. However, the integration with cPanel is just ok. I have a feeling that it's not using the limits correctly since it's hosted in a separate location.

    Is cPanel actively looking at better webmail implementations? Something like Atmail free, or even a paid solution that we could pay extra for? Maybe Open Exchange?
     
  2. cPanelKenneth

    cPanelKenneth cPanel Development
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    At this time we are not considering bundling different webmail clients with cPanel & WHM.

    In cPanel & WHM version 11.28 we provided a means for web host providers to integrate their preferred webmail clients with cPanel & WHM. See Integrating Custom Webmail Applications for more information on doing this.

    We are working on an example webmail plugin using the above document, so web host providers can see how to do this. This plugin will be available in the WHM Manage Plugins UI. It will install a new, much requested, webmail client alongside what we currently provide.
     
  3. Gene Steinberg

    Gene Steinberg Well-Known Member

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    And what is that "new, much requested, webmail client"?

    Peace,
    Gene
     
  4. BobbyDouglas

    BobbyDouglas Active Member

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    There's no need to make a plugin to support hundreds of webmail programs. The problem cPanel users have is that there is not a solid webmail program we can offer our clients.

    What do you expect us to do with this plugin? We're not developers, we're not going to write a plugin for a webmail app. Ok, so we're expected to contact the webmail developers and get them to integrate with cPanel? First of all, we don't have a lot of webmail options, secondly, cPanel has millions of users and would be able to work much better with the webmail developers than a small business that maybe only has a few hundred users - plus.. we're not the only ones looking for a better webmail option.

    I expect my control panel software to include a suitable webmail offering. Plesk is currently integrating with Open Xchange (actually the integration may already be completed).

    Webmail is such a crucial part of a control panel, please don't leave it up to small business owners to figure out.

    A couple options I've seen is Open Xchange Hosting Solution, and @mail open source (@mail project was dropped because of lack of interest, not sure if they will bring it back up if cPanel shows interest again).

    Something needs to be done, maybe if there isn't something that works, cPanel should look at writing their own.
     
  5. cPanelKenneth

    cPanelKenneth cPanel Development
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    There is now an @mail plugin available for cPanel & WHM version 11.28+. It may be installed via WHM Manage Plugins.
     
  6. Infopro

    Infopro cPanel Sr. Product Evangelist
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    Very nice. :)
     
  7. Gene Steinberg

    Gene Steinberg Well-Known Member

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    Just like Plesk. It's not the greatest email client, but it's nice to have another choice.
     
  8. centaur777

    centaur777 Active Member

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    Thank god something is being done regarding this. I made the request for it in 2004 in this forum.

    1. Firstly, I do see Atmail but do not see this plugin under WHM->Manage Plugins. What to do?

    2. Secondly, can anyone who has used this new Webmail client post their review here. Is it as good as OpenExchange on Plesk? Does it have improved Webmail functionality, allow Calenders, Document sharing etc.?

    3. If not, can you guys suggest a great Webmail for cPanel? Also how to offer Calenders, Document Sharing etc. to clients on a cPanel server?

    Actually, all hosting companies with dedicated servers running cPanel are loosing a lot of clients. People just buy a small amount of space these days and direct their MX records to Google because Gmail interface and other Google tools are great.

    Quick cPanel actions before things get out of hand will be much appreciated in the industry.
     
  9. Gene Steinberg

    Gene Steinberg Well-Known Member

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    And why would a hosting company lose clients if they use Gmail instead of what a host offers? It's not as if Google is replacing the other functionality.

    More to the point, a lot of people just use their desktop email clients, and Webmail is used in a pinch, when you're on the road and your computer (or smartphone or tablet) isn't at hand.

    Peace,
    Gene
     
  10. centaur777

    centaur777 Active Member

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    =>cPanel Hosting companies are loosing business because:

    1. Plesk has integrated Openexchange etc. and companies using Plesk are able to offer better business hosting plans.

    2. Clients buy less space because their mail accounts are pointed at Google. Now that Google has reduced the free accounts to 10, still people prefer to keep their emails hosted there and pay Google for it, instead of us.

    3. Many people who are looking for business hosting solutions are happy to just point the A record to us while they use Google Apps for running their business easily.

    =>Smartphones and Cloud computing are used much more than traditional PCs these days. Webmail usage is very high and increasing.

    =>=> MUST: If cPanel does not come up with an Exchange, Calender sharing, Document sharing and above all a better Webmail client, their market share will go down. Watch and notice if my prediction goes wrong. This is indeed a wake-up call.
     
  11. Gene Steinberg

    Gene Steinberg Well-Known Member

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    I've used Plesk. I hate Plesk, because it forces you to do lots of management work on the command line, which defeats the purpose of a graphical interface.

    And if people are going to Google anyway, why should it matter if there's a more extensive "Exchange-style" Webmail option?

    Peace,
    Gene
     
  12. centaur777

    centaur777 Active Member

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    Because, even if you were a child selling lemonade, and your customers start buying from the kid across the street, you would still want to improve your lemonade so that they buy from you instead :) Gene, that is the simplest way to answer your query that I could think of.

    Come on guys, please give some more serious replies than Gene. The situation is important for all of cPanel users. Incase cPanel people can give a ray of hope that would be great!
     
  13. Gene Steinberg

    Gene Steinberg Well-Known Member

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    Shorn of your childish insults, let's look at the serious issues involved here. Have you done an actual survey — or is there one available — indicating that cPanel customers are, in large numbers, running off to Google for email services? What about Plesk, or do you have your own personal surveying to demonstrate that this is true?

    Without any evidence, on what basis do you come to this conclusion?

    For adults to talk about the issues, we have to have an adult conversation. So far, I'm waiting for you to start.

    So start here: Are large numbers of cPanel customers clamoring for better Webmail solutions beyond the ones offered? What's cPanel's take on this?

    I recently used Plesk Panel 10.2, the latest as of March of this year. There were no advanced Webmail solutions offered. It was just Horde and @mail. SquirrelMail was an optional installation via their app repository, and the installations were so poorly handled, settings for default Webmail apps were often ignored. In Plesk, you don't have a display of available Webmail apps for every customer whenever they login to get their messages; once set in Plesk (when it works), you have just one for a user or domain.

    Peace,
    Gene
     
  14. centaur777

    centaur777 Active Member

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    I do have data from several sources that indicates people wanting to move their "email hosting" away from cPanel. Having been in the industry for 14 years and a cPanel hosting provider for 7 years, I have received complaints from hundreds of customers regarding the poor Webmail options on cPanel throughout. 342 of my customers have pointed their MX record to Google in the last one year. Search and you will find that what I am requesting above has been requested by hundreds of cPanel hosting providers in forums like Webhostingtalk, this forum itself and many others.

    I do not like Plesk myself and am not its proponent. All my Linux servers currently run cPanel. However cPanel's lack of response to customer demands creates a vacant space for such solutions and will reduce its business. This is my opinion and maybe wrong. Let us wait and see.

    Gene, This is not a personal battle or a mutual joust. While your one-side approach on this issue, not backed by data, looks like an online reputation saving exercise to me, I refuse to comment further on your posts.

    My objective was to bring these issues to the attention of cPanel people. We all like cPanel and want to continue using it. Please do something on the issues highlighted in this thread!
     
  15. Gene Steinberg

    Gene Steinberg Well-Known Member

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    That customers are moving to different email options doesn't necessarily mean they are taking their hosting business elsewhere. How many customers have you lost as a result — to Plesk-based servers or elsewhere? Isn't that the key?

    DreamHost, for example, encourages their customers to use Gmail rather than their home-grown email solution. I haven't heard about them losing business as a result.

    As to Google, I find the interface increasingly cluttered, and the surfeit of features can be confusing to many people. It is not, to me, better than, say, RoundCube (although many of the promised features are still under development), if you want a usable Webmail alternative. Personally, I stick with Apple Mail and iCal on my Mac, and only use Webmail when I'm not able to use one of my portable devices to check messages. But I grant there are many opinions as to the best messaging solution.

    What I'd like to see cPanel develop is a better spam blocking feature. The existing Exim/SpamAssassin combo is mediocre. Better than Plesk, but still not there. Maybe cPanel should license CSF MailScanner and offer that solution for all customers. Junk mail filtering is an advantage of Gmail, and this may be another reason for people to choose the Google alternative. But with MailScanner on my server, the avalanche of junk mail has slowed to a trickle.

    cPanel should also consider funding development of RoundCube to help speed development, improve the address book, and add a usable calendaring feature. That might help customers who'd otherwise go to Gmail to reconsider the possibilities. Sure, they won't have ready access to social networking, but they won't have to confront the targeted ads (only removed if they buy Google Apps licenses).

    I do agree a responsible dialog is called for, however.

    Peace,
    Gene
     
  16. BobbyDouglas

    BobbyDouglas Active Member

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    I haven't had a chance to check out the new @mail plugin, I'm going to give that a go this week and let you guys know how well it works. (Thanks cPanel for working on it!!)

    - You're correct, they are staying with us for website hosting, but since our webmail sucks, they are using another company to handle that. Thus when an e-mail issue comes up, there are possibly 3 parties involved (the client, us, and gmail who doesn't even have a support phone number!).

    From the small business market, we're at a loss for a professional webmail app.

    - I don't think our clients would be ok with using an e-mail service that doesn't even have a support channel behind it. What happens when you have a question? Or when you accidentally lose 150,000 e-mail accounts over night - who do you call? Very VERY unprofessional.

    More than half of our clients that use webmail, are using remotely hosted webmail through another service like Exchange. That's a pretty big chunk of customers.

    - I would love for cPanel to create/integrate their own SUPPORTED webmail app. I think it is a crucial part of a control panel. I'd rather see something that fully integrates and solves most of our problems ASAP, so if that means we use a third party app now, and in a year or so we switch to a fully supported/integrated webmail through cPanel, I'm ok with that.
     
  17. Gene Steinberg

    Gene Steinberg Well-Known Member

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    The dirty secret about Google is that they haven't a clue about customer support. If you lose your messages, too bad, but if a lot of customers lose messages, maybe they'll do something about it. If you want to get help from anyone, it won't be there. Don't even expect much support for the paid versions of Google Apps. When Google offered the Nexus One Android OS smartphone a while back, the support infrastructure wasn't there. Google got dinged for it, but there's no indication that it made a difference.

    @mail has a decent enterprise product, but the free version is junk. But if a host wants to offer more than bare bones, maybe a better solution is setting up an Exchange or OpenXChange server, at least for now.

    I would be interested in hearing the observations of a cPanel product person about this.

    Peace,
    Gene
     
  18. centaur777

    centaur777 Active Member

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    Thanks guys, for helping bring these points to cPanel people's attention.

    The paradigm shift, with launch of Chrome as OS on devices last week by Google, and launch of ICloud by Apple yesterday, is towards Cloud Computing. While many do not perceive this as a threat to traditional applications, and I personally endorse the directional change, staying alert and having foresightedness to maintain market space is a must - for us as well as our beloved cPanel team. We must stay one step ahead and offer the absolute best business solutions to customers even if the Cloud rains on our parade. Trust me, there is a storm brewing.
     
    #18 centaur777, Jun 1, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2011
  19. albatroz

    albatroz Well-Known Member

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    Great idea

     
  20. centaur777

    centaur777 Active Member

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    Yes, cPanel improving Roundcube interface, search, etc. and adding calender to it, is a great idea.

    Basically, third party hosting applications will have to emulate Cloud applications at some point of time and hence need no longer be third-party. They should be brought under the ambit of the cPanel or funded by it.

    Any comments on the Afterlogic alternative by someone using the same on cPanel?
    afterlogic.com/webmail-client
     
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