I had the great pleasure of speaking with Alec Milton, Managing Director of Product Marketing for Oasys Limited last Friday, to talk about the company’s excellent Mail Manager product. Before I tell you a little about the software — which is unbelievably cool and capable — let me tell you a little about the company. It’s the kind of story guaranteed to warm at least my nerdish heart, if not yours as well. As a product, Mail Manager is the result of an internal development project to organize and manage email messages for a world-class large-scale engineering company (the ARUP group, to be precise) gone so very, very well that it has actually given birth to a subsidiary company to sell technology developed to help manage the message and file traffic routinely associated with engineering projects (which not only involve text communications, but huge volumes of supporting files for engineering plans, CAD drawings, complex workflows and schedules, and yada yada yada, along with serious retention and accountability requirements to assume liability and be ready to deal with potential litigation as and whenever it may happen, as it sometimes does).
I’m learning the program and plan to write a lengthy review in 4-6 weeks after I can say something meaninful about its capabilities and benefits based on personal experience. But in a very small nutshell, what Mr. Milton showed me about Mail Manager tells me that its capabilities are pretty darn amazing:
1. It sidesteps all of the standard PST vs. Exchange based message store issues by maintaining its own XML-based message store, which is compact, highly searchable, and supports user tagging and association mechanisms uniquely suited to project-oriented information storage and retrieval.
2. It works equally well for small, SOHO class business where anywhere from one to a handful of people must collaborate and organize documents along with email to keep communications, work product, timesheets, and reports together on a per-project basis, and for ginormous project-oriented mega-engineering outfits like the company what built it — namely, the ARUP Group (for which Alec showed me a message store with thousands of projects and a complex semantic Web uniting project messages, documents, and other elements together so that fast searches and easy access are available on a truly global scale). The biggest users operate the software for a community of about 50,000 users, so I’d have to say that scalability is pretty much proven.
3. From a day-to-day “get things done” perspective, Mr. Milton’s half-hour demo showed me that Mail Manager makes it easy for people to file information as and when they need to, and then to find it later on when they must refer to their stored information for all kinds of reasons. The product even allows offline work, so that pending filing or retrieval activities can be queued up until an Internet connection once again becomes available, without hampering local work or effort in the meantime. The use of a well-indexed, highly searchable centralized and distributed repository also means that duplicate messages and files need not be stored, and that organizations can save on storage and network traffic. The coolest thing I saw was an ad-hoc organization of different kinds of data called “Collections” that is best understood by the Windows-7-savvy as “Libraries for a message store” where items from all over the place (literally) can be composed and organized inside a single logical and hierarchical framework.
I’ve worked with Exchange-based Outlook and SharePoint applications, and with extensive, extended Lotus Notes environments at many and various points in my checkered career. I can’t wait to see how Mail Manager stacks up against these other mega-messaging alternatives as I get to know the product better. Count on me to keep you informed about what’s going on, and to tell you more about what I observe and learn about Mail Manager along the way. In the meantime, to learn more about Mail Manager on your own, check out the Oasys Mail Manager product page at your leisure.