How streamserve makes progress
DOCUMENT PRESENTMENT FOR THE ENTERPRISE
A leading enterprise provider of dynamic document composition, management and delivery solutions, StreamServe, Inc., enables organizations to automate, personalize, and deliver customer-centric documents in any format, through any channel.
StreamServe’s solutions help organizations extend their existing ERP, CRM, and other backend systems with an integrated enterprise document presentment (EDP) system that can deliver true business value across the enterprise and its supply chain. StreamServe’s solutions deepen brand awareness while providing marketers with flexible and efficient channels for customer communications and targeted offers that lead to cross-sell and up- sell opportunities.
Headquartered in Burlington, Mass., with 15 offices worldwide, StreamServe’s more than 4,900 customers include Coca Cola, Agis Insurance, Metzler, BMW France, and Siemens Financial.
SO MUCH SUPPORT TO PROVIDE, SO LITTLE TIME
With its growing emphasis on serving the enterprise customer, StreamServe’s engineering staff has designed the company’s flagship software product—StreamServe Persuasion—to run on all established OS platforms including the major UNIX platforms, Windows, and Linux.
Over time, however, it became clear that the company needed to move its solution beyond a proprietary database architecture to support the multitude of commercial relational databases that have become well established in the enterprise. Considering the various databases—Oracle, SQL Server, DB2, MySQL—for each of the OS platforms and their various versions, the task seemed formidable.
“We looked into the idea of developing for native databases on our own,” says Petter Ericksson. As VP of Engineering at StreamServe, Ericksson is responsible for making planned development a reality. “For us to look into every combination of database platform would have consumed quite a lot of our developmental resources.”
Time-to-market was another important factor, Ericksson points out.
“We were pressed for time,” he says, “with full support for both Oracle and SQL Server expected for the next upcoming release of StreamServe Persuasion.”
PROGRESS® DATADIRECT CONNECT® PROVIDES FULL COVERAGE
StreamServe decided to embed commercially available data connectivity middleware in order to provide their product’s support for those databases. Besides wanting to take the burden of timesensitive development off the inhouse team, Ericksson did not want the performance of their software left to the vagaries of whatever ODBC/JDBC connectivity providers may be available on the customer’s databases.
“Our products tie in with our customers’ most mission-critical business systems,” he explains. “If the part of our software that interacts with their invoice processing goes down, for example, that could badly impact their company. We need a highly available, solidly dependable environment that’s also very secure. So we wanted to rely on our own server for that data connectivity component.”
The team set out in search of a vendor that could provide both ODBC and JDBC connectivity for the target databases on all the various platforms that the StreamServe Persuasion product supports.
“We quickly found that Progress® DataDirect® met those rather demanding coverage requirements,” says Ericksson. “DataDirect’s products also had a good a reputation for being stable, reliable, and secure—a track record that was a key factor in our decision to test its drivers in our solutions.”
Specifically designed to deliver high performance, the Progress® DataDirect Connect® for ODBC suite of ODBC drivers provides wireprotocol connectivity that dispenses with the need to install client libraries for the target database(s), while the Progress® DataDirect Connect® for JDBC™— as the industry’s SPECjAppServer/ECPerf performance and scalability leader—is the fastest suite of Type 4 JDBC drivers available on the market. Both suites deliver connectivity to Oracle and SQL Server as well as a host of other major commercial databases such as DB2, Sybase, Informix, and MySQL.
Ericksson, emphasizing that StreamServe releases no software without extensive testing, reports that the Progress DataDirect sales and support were helpful in expediting that rigorous process.
“We had a good relationship with them,” he says. “Progress DataDirect assigned us a dedicated support member, so we could turn to one person who was completely knowledgeable about our project and any issues we had.”
Since going into production, Ericksson notes, StreamServe has had no issues to report.
REQUIREMENTS MET, AND THEN SOME
By embedding the DataDirect Connect for JDBC and DataDirect Connect for ODBC into the latest version of the StreamServe Persuasion software, the company has been able to offer their customers full high- performance support for Oracle and SQL Server without the costly development and QA cycles that inhouse engineering would have demanded.
Relying on Progress DataDirect for database connectivity will save StreamServe considerable time going forward, as well. Thoroughly versed in the very latest advances of both connectivity standards and database technology, Progress DataDirect ensures that its products are typically first to market in incorporating new capabilities. The latest ODBC and JDBC drivers, for instance, offer support for the IPv6 Internet Protocol— mandated for use in federal agencies by June 2008—as well as support for security standards such as Kerberos-based OS authentication and secure socket layer (SSL) encryption.
“We count on Progress DataDirect to cover what’s happening from the database connectivity standpoint,” Eriksson says. “Our customers can also benefit from the Progress DataDirect technology beyond our own product’s implementations. We discuss the Progress DataDirect capabilities that they can then use to enhance system integration within their organization.”
Examples of this include using the DataDirect Connect driver suites to provide connectivity to databases not associated with StreamServe Persuasion or to incorporate that connectivity into a company-wide single sign-on (SSL) architecture using the Kerberos security standard supported by the DataDirect Connect line of products.
There are unforeseen benefits for the StreamServe development team itself, as well.
“When we began formulating plans to further expand support to additional databases such as DB2 and MySQL,” Eriksson explains, “it turned out that Progress DataDirect data access products already supported what we wanted to do.”
While it is not possible to accurately judge the precise extent to which the new database support has been instrumental in customer adoption of StreamServe Persuasion’s new version, Eriksson estimates that about 50 installs are already in place since 2007.
“It’s mostly the big enterprises that are upgrading—those having the most critical performance demands,” he says. “The purpose of our development with Progress DataDirect was to expand our reach, and that’s apparently worked out as planned.”
As for the more short-term goals of StreamServe’s development team, Eriksson says there is no question that Progress DataDirect met them, and then some.
“We needed solutions that better address enterprises using relational databases,” he says in conclusion. “We were pressed for time-to-market and wanted to avoid doing everything ourselves. Progress DataDirect came through for us on all three counts.