ServersEnterprise-level application server that leverages electronic mail

Enterprise-level application server that leverages electronic mail




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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