Enterprise-level application server that leverages electronic mail

By ServerWatch Staff (Send Email)
Posted Jun 5, 2002


What is the most frequently used type of application on the Internet? Electronic mail. And what's the hardest medium for conducting electronic commerce? Electronic mail.

This apparent conundrum has not gone unnoticed in the application- or e-mail-server worlds. However, the typical response has been to graft e-mail onto an existing Web-based commerce solution, such as sending out automated e-mail after a transaction has been completed. This approach is useful, yet very limited. Delano Technology offers revolutionary approach to e-mail and e-commerce with the Delano e-Business Interaction Suite. Combining the functions of an application server and an e-mail server, the Delano e-Business Interaction Suite is an enterprise-level product that can tie together the pieces of an e-commerce puzzle.

Enter Delano Technology with a truly revolutionary approach to e-mail and e-commerce with the Delano e-Business Interaction Suite. Combining the functions of an application server and an e-mail server, the Delano e-Business Interaction Suite is an enterprise-level product that can tie together the pieces of an e-commerce puzzle. It is also an enterprise-priced product -- it will cost you $50,000 just to get your foot in the door.

The Delano e-Business Interaction Suite is actually three products: The Delano e-Business Interaction Server is an application server that can run up to thousands of simultaneous e-business applications; the Delano e-Business Application Builder is a rapid application builder with a drag-and-drop graphical interface for developing e-business applications; and the Delano e-Business Interaction Server Administrator configures, administers, and manages e-business applications on the Delano e-Business Interaction Server, both locally and remotely. In all three cases, the software is designed to augment existing systems (including mail servers, database management systems, personalization systems, and directory servers), not to replace a current product.

Because of this, the Delano e-Business Interaction Suite can easily be added to an established enterprise situation without causing a major disruption. However, the flip side of this is that the Delano e-Business Interaction Suite is fairly ineffective on its own (unless you like the idea of a $50,000 autoresponder), and if a true enterprise-computing infrastructure is not in place in place, you will not get a whole lot out of Delano e-Business Interaction Suite. In other words, if you are not already set up with an extensive user database, clearly delineated responsibilities, and an e-commerce-enhanced Web site, installing Delano e-Business Interaction Suite would be a waste of resources.

We tested Delano e-Business Interaction Suite after downloading a 20MB evaluation copy from the Internet. It doesn't take a monster server to deploy Delano e-Business Interaction Suite, as it requires only a Pentium-based server with 128MB of RAM running Windows NT. Because there is no Unix version, you'll probably want to deploy Delano on its own server on the network, and incorporate the development and deployment functions on one server.

The process begins with the Delano e-Business Application Builder, which can be run on a local workstation or directly from the server. Building an application is akin to creating a flowchart: The user drags and drops software components into a workspace to create a workflow. The process begins with a "start event" that can be any number of things: the introduction of data from a Web form, the arrival of an e-mail message, or a regularly scheduled event. What happens next is totally up to the user, and Delano provides an impressive list of software components for further action, including running a script (Delano supports VB Script or JScript server-side scripts), parsing the message text (inquiries about a specific product can be sent to a specific mailbox), running another program, replying via e-mail, querying a database, or saving the message to a networked database.

Your response can be as simple or as complicated as you like. It's easy enough to build an autoresponder to messages received by specific mail accounts -- but then again, an enterprise doesn't shell out $50,000 for an autoresponder. At the very least, you'll want to follow some of the examples of programs provided by Delano, such as a reminder system that sends out scheduled e-mail messages. Because you have the ability to run outside service side scripts and external programs, you can pretty much specify any action you want in response to any start event.

The Delano e-Business Interaction Server is not a replacement for an existing e-mail or application server. Instead, the Delano server must be configured to work with an existing Post Office Protocol 3 (POP3) or Internet Message Access Protocol 4 (IMAP4) server to manage both incoming and outgoing messages. For example, the Delano e-Business Interaction Server can be set up to reroute messages to more appropriate recipients in the enterprise, instantly send a reply and store the message in a database.

Administering the server via the network can be done from an administrator package that runs as an application on the server or is accessed remotely via a Web browser. Other functions, such as creating dynamic pages and forms, can also be done remotely from a Web browser.

Is Delano e-Business Interaction Suite an essential tool for the enterprise? Not yet. An enterprise just getting up to speed with an e-commerce infrastructure should first look at a sophisticated application server (such as Allaire's ColdFusion) to fuel its initial efforts, as well as a stronge personalization system and a sophisticated planning approach to how the organization responds to e-commerce needs. When all of the pieces are in place, Delano e-Business Interaction Suite will be an essential tool to tie these components together.

Pros:

  • Works well with existing enterprise components
  • Requires minimal resources
  • Includes all of the tools needed to design and deploy e-mail-centered applications

Cons:

  • Expensive, even by enterprise standards
  • Limited to Windows NT

New in v1.1: Original Review
Upgrade Meter: 5

Version Reviewed: 1.1
Reviewed by: Kevin Reichard
Last Updated: Original Review
Date of Original Review: 11/10/99


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