Due to popular demand, we’ve added some new Distribution Group features to our Exchange/M365 Service Manager. The features are all about external (mail enabled) contacts that have a huge presence in the SMB/consulting organizations:
External Contacts or Mail Enabled Contacts are great when you need to give a person an email address on your domain without giving them their own mailbox. This is a very popular feature in SMB/consulting community when it comes to contractors and third parties that already have their own email infrastructure but for compliance (or vanity) purposes they need an email on your domain.
External Contacts allow you to assign an email address on your domain (email@example.com) and automatically forward all their mail to their existing email address (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Not only does this feature help save money on licensing costs, it also eliminates the need for the person to setup another account and check mail at a new place.
The upgrade we’re announcing today has to do with External or Mail Enabled contacts as a part of a Distribution Group (Exchange term for “mailing list”): You can now add external email addresses to any internal/external distribution group from the Service Manager at https://support.ownwebnow.com. Now when you try to create or modify a distribution group, your “Add a new member” screen will show your defined external contacts as well!
This is one of the most demanded features in Service Manager, and we hope it serves your business well!
But her (external) emails!
Unfortunately for some, the Internet standards still apply and most service providers are rapidly removing features that have anything to do with external mail forwarding. This is mainly due to rise of SMTP authentication/authorization protocols like SPF, DomanKeys (DKIM) that do not work with the way mail enabled external contacts are implemented in Microsoft Exchange and other email servers. When the mail is being forwarded to the external contact, the From line remains intact so that the recipient can identify the person sending the email (for example, email@example.com). But when the message is forwarded to the external contact, the receiving server will look at the from line and see that the message is from a domain hosted on Gmail but sent from the ExchangeDefender address space (that is obviously not a part of Google Gmail SPF/DKIM record) and depending on configuration might consider that message to be a forgery/spoof/SPAM.
This isn’t an ExchangeDefender issue, or a Microsoft issue, or a Gmail issue, it’s a part of the protocol specification. And while everyone else is making this feature go away (because it can affect server reputation), we’re working on rewriting/improving it. We are currently working on a feature that will rewrite the From line, so when Exchange forwards an email “From: Vlad Mazek <firstname.lastname@example.org>” to an external contact, the recipient will get an email that shows this on the from line: “From: Vlad Mazek <email@example.com>” that will help bypass SPF/DKIM checks on the receiving side.
ExchangeDefender, like almost all small businesses worldwide, is having a challenging time managing the Covid-19 crisis. From having our headquarters on the 12th floor of a downtown Orlando high-rise, to undertaking a massive and complex migration, to team dealing with family and health issues, this spring and summer has really forced us to grow and quick. I’m sure you’re dealing with the same and I want you to know that we’re fully committed to growth this year and putting you into a better position to profit from cybersecurity.
While the economic disruption will certainly be forcing some businesses into a hibernation or worse, my travel always reminds me what a blessing and a privilege it is to own a business. It comes with responsibility – to clients, to partners, to vendors, and to our team. We don’t have the luxury of slowing things down and seeing how things look in a year or two – we are actively attacked 24/7/365 – we have no chance but to act, secure, and grow so we can continue to defend networks today and provide a security layer for the threats we’ll encounter tomorrow.
Over the past two years we have focused on development and modernizing of all ExchangeDefender services. In the spring, when Covid-19 started, everyone got a free Wrkoo portal, which we are committing to keeping free because we need our partners and clients to communicate through this interruption. We’ve also released a brand new LiveArchive product that will usher a new era of security and redundancy services for Gmail and Microsoft 365. We’ve upgraded everyone to the latest Microsoft 365 SKU, which not only introduced new features but reduced support load by 90%!!! We’ve hired more developers and have an aggressive feature roadmap taking us through the end of 2021.
While we have raised our rates over the years, many of our partners have benefited from us not auditing invoices, not expiring some of the promotional services, not reclassifying passthrough billing (which is prohibited), not enforcing the $100 monthly minimum for monthly payments, etc. We hope this advantage has allowed you to grow and profit, and you’ll be happy to hear that the new SKU’s scheduled for 2020/2021 are still significantly lower than the market average.
Later this fall (November 1st), we will be expiring old/defunct SKUs. To find current pricing, please download the Partner Guide from our portal.
Personally, I understand that price increases suck. There is no such thing as a good time to raise prices. Yet people do it all the time, and when we look at our roadmap and what our clients are demanding: they are asking for more security, not cheap security. When we look at our top performing partners, they aren’t selling Essentials and freeware, they sell the best. While I know that the decision to standardize our pricing and enforce the rules will cost us some business, our focus is on putting out the best product and service. Many of you that have followed or worked with me over the years know that my personal hero is Ayrton Senna, and that I frequently talk about his mastery of a wet race track. How did he get that good? Truth is, Senna bombed his first go cart wet race. Determined to get better, he put his wet gear in a bag and got on the track just as the rain started. Partners, clients, friends – in the tech business you don’t get ahead with cheap and aging technology – the security demands are only going to get greater and we want to make sure that we can keep you safely in business for years to come. We’re up for that challenge, and we hope you like all the enhancements we’ll continue bringing to our service.