SchoolMessenger Awarded Patent for Highly Available Notifications

SchoolMessenger, provider of communication solutions for education, today announced it has been awarded a patent (U.S. Pat. No. 8,131,269) for a voice message delivery system and method which uses a highly distributed architecture to deliver extremely large volumes of mass notifications originating from many locations nearly instantaneously. The geo-dispersion technology allows the industry-leading hosted notification solution to achieve near-infinite scalability and an unmatched level of redundancy and performance. 

“When an emergency or threat happens on a school campus, our customers must be absolutely certain their message gets to parents as quickly as possible,” said Howard Wood, SchoolMessenger’s co-founder, chief technology officer and one of four inventors named in the patent. “Our patented technology not only delivers the highest degree of fault tolerance available today, but also supports near linear scalability of end-to-end capacity to allow for continued growth and expansion. Our customers know that platform size and scale matter when it comes to delivering uninterrupted service, and have trusted us for more than a decade to continually innovate and lead the K-12 market in fast, secure and reliable notification services.”

The patented technology in SchoolMessenger’s hosted notification system prepares voice messages and delivers them in mass, to a single recipient or to a particular group or household, more quickly and with a higher degree of redundancy than earlier generation architectures. It also provides the intelligence necessary to effectively allocate those messages across its highly distributed nationwide infrastructure, increasing the overall redundancy and resiliency of the system.

Even in today’s budget-conscious environment, demand for notification systems continues to grow.  Over the last 10 years, SchoolMessenger has delivered billions of messages for thousands of educational facilities in all 50 states.


Infrastructure Was Then, Private Cloud Is Now and Beyond

A transition from a traditional infrastructure-focused deployment model into a cloud-friendly, cloud-ready, cloud-enabled and service-centric delivery vehicle in enterprise IT is imminent, if not already happening. IT is no longer about servers, networks, and storage; instead IT is about shortening go-to-market. This is not only a matter of survival for IT. This is a matter of survival of the business that IT supports.
Seven years of research with 15,000 data points, as shown below, provides overwhelming evidence that there is a noticeable increase in efficiency with a significant reduction of TCO by moving IT from Basic intothe Rationalized stage in the IO (Infrastructure Optimization) model. And cloud, or more specifically private cloud computing, offers a roadmap to facilitate enterprise IT transforming from Basic or Standardized into Rationalized. A transition from a traditional infrastructure-focused deployment model into a cloud-ready, cloud-enabled, and service-centric delivery vehicle in enterprise IT is imminent, if not already happening.

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Some Alternative and Fun Cloud API Meanings

Hearing different discussions about APIs in general and cloud in particular got me thinking, besides the usual Application Programming Interface meaning, what other options exists including those to have some fun with.
How about some of these among others to have some fun and take a quick break from the otherwise serious side of clouds, virtualization data and storage networking, backup, archive, VDI, data protection and management topics.
Cloud API = A Payment Invoice
Cloud API = A Paid Infrastructure
Cloud API = A Pain Inthea$$

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Cloud Based Services: Plumbing the Web

Cloud based services are so ubiquitous that it is almost impossible to imagine our daily life without these. These services range from web e-mail services like Gmail to productivity apps like Evernote to Social Networks like Twitter to Information services like Weather.com. I can count at least twenty different services that I use on a daily basis and probably hard to live without. I get tremendous value from these services, both personally and professionally. However, there is an ugly side to these services. Each of these services live in their own island and it is hard to go on to each service to keep up with it.

  • Isn’t it great if I can push my favorite Google Reader article to Instapaper for a later reading?
  • Isn’t it great if I can get an SMS alert, if the weather.com forecasts rain in Bangalore today evening?
  • Isn’t it great if I can move my personal tweets to my Gmail account for later reference?
  • Isn’t it great if I can get an email alert if my twitter follower mentions me?

What we need is a way to plumb all these discrete services together to create more valued experience.


Ifttt.com 
Ifttt.com is a web plumbing service that connects multiple web services together to create services that are much more useful than those individually are. Ifttt.com stands for If This Then That. It essentially creates a macro environment for web (à la macros in MS Office), enabling knowledge web workers to automate tasks across web. Given the workforce in Enterprises are increasingly populated with Gen Yers, such web plumbing services have an important place in the future of Enterprise IT.

It provides basic constructs to monitor and evaluate an event and then take an action on the same. To show how this service works, please see the screen grab below. This graphic shows a Task which sends an SMS alert if there is Rain predicted tomorrow on Weather.com.

As can be seen in the graphic there are two simple constructs Trigger and Action. There are predefined channels which can be used to define the triggers. In this case Weather.com is used as the channel and the trigger is “Tomorrow forecast calls for Rain”. Action is defined as an SMS message, which another pre-defined channel with my phone number attached to it.

Ifttt.com runs this task every 15 minutes and checks if there rain is forecasted tomorrow and then sends an SMS alert. That is how simple using this service. The user interface is barebones and is very simple and easy to use. One doesn’t need to have any Programming background to use. But don’t let the simplicity undermine its power. As Douglas Adams quotes in ‘The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time’, “The future of computer power is pure simplicity”.

Under the hood of Ifttt, REST APIs and RSS Feeds are hard at work. These technologies enable easy programmable access to various web services. Another important, but often overlooked technology that forms the technological foundation of Ifttt is OAuth. OAuth enables token based end user authentication and authorization between multiple web services.

Ifttt.com is not the first service to attempt web plumbing. There is a great service called Yahoo! Pipes, which probably started the idea of web plumbing. Yahoo! Pipes is very visual with a graphical interface reminiscent of popular WISYWIG image editors. Yahoo has done a great job in abstracting the complexity of REST APIs, RSS feeds as visual widgets that can be dragged and dropped. Unfortunately the service couldn’t get the traction with masses, however is quite popular among web geeks and programmers.

Extending the Idea to Enterprise:
It doesn’t take much imagination to see how useful web plumbing (in specific ifttt.com) can be in Enterprises. Enterprises have been trying hard for a long time to seamless integration of internal IT services. Years ago Enterprises have embarked the journey of Service Orientation Architecture, but are yet to reach the distant dream of seamless integration. Adoption of cloud SaaS services have only made reaching the dream harder.

  • Given how ifttt.com has brought web plumbing to masses, there is lot of speculation that ifttt.com is pursuing Enterprise Interests. Recently ifttt got a funding of $1.5 million, not bad for a two person company. Can’t wait for an Enterprise edition of ifttt.com.
  • Cloud Integration Platforms are already rage in Enterprises. To name a few, IBM’s Cast Iron and Dell’s Boomi are already heavy lifting the integration between on-premise services and SaaS service hosted in the cloud. SnapLogic (www.snaplogic.com) is another interesting Cloud Integration Platform. It has pioneered the use of App Store for its cloud integration platform. However, all these platforms are targeted towards the IT developers and not the Business Users. One day, I hope these services learn something from ifttt.com.

This post originally appeared at www.techspot.co.in


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Help Define a “(Tier 1) Cloud”

Recently I’ve had conversations with Cloud entrepreneurs that identifies one really simple but powerfully illustrative dynamic of the Cloud Computing industry: that there are different ‘classes’ of Cloud service available. Simply put there are i) web hosting companies who have installed VMware or other Cloud platforms and are offering this in addition to their traditional […]

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Cloud Expo New York Speaker Profile: Paul Rubell – Meltzer Lippe

With Cloud Expo 2012 New York (10th Cloud Expo) now just under six away, what better time to introduce you in greater detail to the distinguished individuals in our incredible Speaker Faculty for the technical and strategy sessions at the conference…

We have technical and strategy sessions for you every day from June 11 through June 14 dealing with every nook and cranny of Cloud Computing and Big Data, but what of those who are presenting? Who are they, where do they work, what else have they written and/or said about the Cloud that is transforming the world of Enterprise IT, side by side with the exploding use of enterprise Big Data – processed in the Cloud – to drive value for businesses…?

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