MailFlow To Get Performance Mods

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Today, we'll talk a little bit about what we're working on for the initial release of MailFlow V4, and the reasoning behind doing so.

In the early life of VisNetic MailFlow, the product was positioned to meet the needs of SOHO's and SMB's, and MailFlow enjoyed growth in these sectors. As the product and its market have evolved over the years, MailFlow is finding it's way into larger email customer service departments. Additionally, many of MailFlow's customers who originally bought SOHO/SMB license sizes have upgraded to much larger user sizes. These customer have started to ask us for infrastructure level features such as load balancing, and high availability, while also wanting more granular control over security features. Up to and including the most recent version of MailFlow, we concentrated primarily on usability features, however a fair amount of work has been done in the security area of the product and logical customer service team load balancing.

For those of you that enjoy the geeky details, here's what's up. Currently, MailFlow is presently limited to running a single instance of the Web (EMSIsapi.dll) and Engine (MailFlowEngine.exe) services against the MailFlow SQL database. This limitation is acceptable to most small business users, however as the MailFlow enabled organization grows, incoming customer service email increases, and more agents are needed to respond to them. Most online enabled companies refer to this as a "good" problem to have. However, with this growth the need to scale the Web and Engine services to support load distribution and fail-over in MailFlow also grows.

We have a healthy list of user-contributed usability features that we plan to implement in VisNetic MailFlow V4, however in the interim release - we are going to work on the "engine and drive train", and improve the product in 2 main areas. The first iteration of v4 will address the aforementioned limitations by allowing for the addition of any number of MailFlow Web and Engine servers to be run against a single MailFlow database. Extending MailFlow to support multiple servers will specifically address the following:

  • If Agent web access performance is degraded, additional Web Services servers can be added. Agent access to these servers can be configured in any number of ways, including restricting access to a single or multiple server(s) by Agent or Agent Group. Web Services Server access can also be managed by implementing load-balancing solutions and/or by manipulating DNS (round-robin, etc.).
  • In addition to Web Services, additional Engine Services Servers can be added; the backend responsibilities these servers perform can be configured via the MailFlow Administration panel. Message Collection, Message Delivery, Database Maintenance and Scheduled Report Processing can be assigned to one or many Engine Servers.
Security and Availability:
  • The ability to add Web and Engine Servers to a MailFlow installation greatly enhances fail-over security. This can be accomplished by utilizing industry available fail-over systems and services for Windows servers.
  • MailFlow will also support the automatic fail-over of back end Engine responsibilities to other servers, if a server goes offline for a pre-determined period of time.
Adding these enhancements to MailFlow now will ensure that we have the solid foundation that we need to build a great feature set upon. Once this initial work is completed (much is already done now by our development team) we will continue to roll out usability improvements based on the feedback of our users. We also have a new client application in the works that will improve VoIP integration, email notifications and overall presence information.