I defined product extensions to leverage deployment of infrastructure
x400 protocols for standardized e-mail.
With the rise of Open Systems networking and RISC Unix Independent
software vendors (ISV) networks
developed providing competitive solutions relative to the integrated
offerings that HP had been delivering on its proprietary
platforms. Major software developers such as Microsoft and Lotus
development entered the market by purchasing leading PC mail
businesses. Responding to this trend the Office Products
Division started development of an office system to run on UNIX.
The resulting product was a non-standard UNIX e-mail solution operating
over send-mail with HP oriented proprietary client software and poor
enterprise directory and gateway support.
It had carried over some powerful facilities from years of operations
of HP Mail/HPDesk Manager within HP, but most were not recognized as
valuable by the management:
- Hierarchic routing - The
machines comprising the HP messaging network were often moved.
The addressing of absolute machines would be associated by a routing
table with the next hop in the message transfer. Coordinating
distributed routing tables was very hard during those days of point to
point links. HP Desk Manager used a hierarchy of routing.
Messages would be addressed to a logical router that would resolve the
address within its sub network.
- Friendly addressing.
- Enterprise wide user naming directory with phonetic search.
- Low impact, easily ported, highly
flexible client server
connectivity and control (User agent layer). Key to growth
(take up) was the ability to port and operate on very basic
platforms with low overhead data communications. Key to the
adaptability was the generic interfaces: connect, login, send, and receive
with general buffers including command for the server to execute.
Allowed manipulation of any server objects such as in tray etc.
Inclusion of secured general server request was what allowed third
parties to easily leverage the system. The commands were very
OpenMail specific so engineers resisted proposing this as a
standard. With Open Source it could be an attractive
IBM's control of enterprise computing and networking was threatened by
the rise of open modular solutions and corporate business units were
reducing their dependency on costly, unresponsive central IT
I was asked to extend the success of this new flag-ship, and lead the
project development team.
The development resources knew how to build good e-mail systems - they
had lots of experience with HP Desk Manager. However, the initial
development of OpenMail had left various facilities incomplete. I
concluded that we
must provide a good directory, gateway and standards support, enable
tunneling of objects between OpenMail nodes, and use the
performance and robustness of the UNIX servers as scale-ably as
to gain access, via stimulating big server sales to interest the sales
force, to the regional IT messaging budgets and be acceptable
to the central IT strategists. Main aspects were:
- Modularize the interfaces and ensure compatibility with the ISO
and Internet e-mail standards.
- Leverage the adaptability of the client-server communications
- Support clients on a full range of corporate PCs.
- Allow easy support of the various application program interface
(API) standards being
introduced by Lotus Development, Microsoft and the Messaging standards
- Modularize the directory interfaces and replace the initial
implementation with an enterprise level solution.
- Optimize the IO paths to gain leverage from the server
The two Major Messaging Vendors of this period started OEM programs
based on the re-designed platform.
Major target customers in Oil and Telecommunications industries
replaced IBM mainframes and the office products that were running on
them and deployed our solution as their corporate messaging
backbone. OpenMail became the category leader.
The modular architecture was able to support these customers while they
initially followed an ISO X.400 standards strategy and then as they
switched to an Internet strategy.
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