ISV releases MMS-capable server for Exchange, Outlook

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An Australian ISV, Better Network Services Group (BNS), has created software that allows text, pictures, audio and video to be sent from Outlook via Exchange and Active Directory controls to SMS- and MMS-capable mobile phones.

Laurence Buchanan, director of sales and marketing at Sydney-based BNS, said the new server software – dubbed msXmms – was believed to be the first of its kind that harnessed Microsoft Exchange. Many, if not most, companies used Exchange and Outlook so the software had broad practical applicability, he said.

BNS developed the software with two partners, Microsoft and fellow Australian firm Mobile Messenger, which is an aggregator providing wireless applications and SMS gateways.

'[msXmms] offers the ability to control corporate messaging from within the corporate network to mobile devices. We have customers in government and banking who felt they have been waiting for this,' Buchanan said.

The server software allows, for example, users on the corporate network to access and forward photographs to and from mobile phones or PDAs. That feature was believed to be a world-first, he said.

'Microsoft in the US made specific changes to its technology to allow us to integrate and prove these sorts of services to customers,' he said. 'We are pretty sure no one else is doing this through Exchange.'

Further, Buchanan said the software did not require any Active Directory schema extension, nor any client deployment. It used a standard Microsoft SMTP connector and supported Exchange clustering, he said.

It could be set up so that only certain staff were permitted to use it, or to forward messages on after receiving them, he said.

Buchanan said msXmms was targeted particularly at government and corporate account customers with Microsoft Exchange Server 2000 or 2003 that were developing a highly mobile workforce.

The software was expected to be available at $9900 for the first Mobile Messenger gateway, and $5500 for subsequent gateways. Message licensing would be priced at from one cent to six cents a message, depending on the volume of messages sent.

BNS is seeking resellers – including system integrators and potential application provider partners for msXmms, Buchanan added.

Kerstin Baxter, director of the partner group at Microsoft, said that as far as she knew no one else had produced such an application for Exchange.

msXmms could sell very well as it would have wide appeal to enterprises trying to manage remote workers that needed to communicate regularly either across an organisation or with home base, she said.

For example, photos of people staff were about to meet for the first time could be forwarded as required, almost instantaneously – enabling them to more easily pick their new business associate out of a crowd, she said.

Also, verticals such as real estate could use it to more easily photograph and collate photos of properties they were assessing or advertising for sale or rent. Such photos could then also be forwarded on to the potential purchasers of those properties, Baxter pointed out.

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