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Structured Messaging (SM)


  • OwnMail's SM provides a means for applications to leverage the power of email by bringing structure to the content and context of messages. The subscriber achieves high level of automation. OwnMail's server also includes powerful tools for normal unstructured messages, such as the ability to throw up a mailbox, send a fax, download messages etc. By using OwnMail for an application's email needs, application writers can achieve cross platform portability without the need to maintain in house SMTP skills.

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"Handle High-volume Messaging"

Currently email is structured (grouped) by way of inbox, i.e. I can send an email to your inbox and you can send one to mine. However, it is possible to structure email by way of customer, supplier, transaction or any atomic level of organization decided. The structuring of the content and context of email is termed Structured Messaging (SM).

Structures Messaging detailed
On the subscriber side, SM does away with personal email ids to send and receive email. Instead, an atomic level of organization is decided. This could for example be a transaction or a customer. It is called the atomic level, since once decided, it cannot then be subdivided. E.g, if the atomic level is the customer, then it cannot be reduced to the level of a transaction with a customer. However, if the level chosen is that of a transaction, then it can be aggregated to that of a customer. The significance of an atomic level is that messages relating to an instance of the level are segregated and given some of the attributes of a mailbox. It can be downloaded using POP3 or SMTP, displayed, and normal mailbox operations can be carried out on it.

Example of a freight broker is an online freight broker / market place. Traders can log on and negotiate freight rates for their consignments from airlines and shipping lines. These negotiations are protracted and largely done by way of email. Aqualogistics uses OwnMail's SM to bring order to this email as detailed in this downloadable case study.

One of the primary uses of Structured Messaging (SM) is as a mail system for applications. By adding structure to the content and context of email, we make it easy for software to make use of it. Some promising applications that may benefit from SM are: -
  • To connect enterprises with their customers. CRM software has ability to do everything but correspond intelligently with customers by way of email. While crude search and order tools do exist, they place many restrictions on the complexity of the interaction with the customer. Further, they are not very reliable in their ordering ability. By allowing far greater structure in the interaction with the customer, SM opens up a whole new vista in CRM ability. For example, the atomic level could be configured at the level of the customer, which would then give the ability to maintain a separate mailbox for each customer.
  • To connect enterprises to small suppliers: - Supply chain applications can use SM as the primary interface to connect to suppliers to send and receive documents. SM in the hands of the supplier will be a normal email message that he receives using his existing email account. It thus uses extant infrastructure with zero additional investment. However, for the enterprise hosting the application, automation is complete, since the mail is being sent and received by the application with no human intervention.
  • To connect applications to one another despite poor Internet infrastructure: - XML based messaging is currently largely of the instant variety. This presumes good Internet infrastructure between the applications talking to one another. By using SM, applications can leverage SMTP's multihop architecture and repeated automatic delivery attempt capability. While the content of such messages is already structured by XML, SM brings to the table structuring of context. For example this would allow reversal of a transaction that has been entered into using email.
Technical details
OwnMail's SM is written largely in c++. It is designed to be suitable for delivery as a hosted service as well as a server. It runs on Slakware Linux. It uses Intel architecture and is rated at 500,000 mail operations per server per day. OwnMail includes high-level tools for delivery of normal mail services too via a sophisticated web interface, or POP3 protocol. Applications can use it to send and receive unstructured mail, or send fax messages, throw up a mailbox, etc.