06 Sep 2011

Java Developers Journal: RPost Goes Cloud, Calls It a ‘Cloud Processing Platform’

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by Maureen O’Gara – Java Developers JournalThe platform will let any of these users, regardless of stripe, lease the RPost infrastructure and transform data into a product.

RPost, the Registered Email outfit, has gone into the cloud business, calling its new widgetry the “new global standard for legal electronic messaging.”

The RPost Cloud, for that is its name, is targeted at software applications, service providers, developers, IT departments, ye olde postal services and John Q public.

The platform will let any of these users, regardless of stripe, lease the RPost infrastructure and transform data into a product, reconcile transactions and return reports to the sender or sending system. It’s supposed to cost pennies and can be done on a message-by-message or user-by-user basis.

Its cloud can be used to give data and e-mail messages any of the company’s many services, which roughly fall into four buckets: legally valid proof of delivery and non-repudiation; security, encryption and compliance; secure electronic signatures, contract e-signing and authentication; and collaboration and deliverability.

It will return the sender use, delivery, opening, signing and securing analytics reports and evidence records.

The company positions its cloud as an infrastructure extension to developers’ own software platforms or to users’ existing e-mail programs.

Imagine, for instance, that a sender or developer routes a standard e-mail through the RPost Cloud for what the company calls “specialized processing.”

That special processing can make the e-mail into any combination of 70 RPost products such as Registered Email message for proof of delivery, content and time; a HIPAA-compliant encrypted e-mail with proof of encrypted delivery; a Certified Email message with sender authentication; or a contract prepared for the recipient’s electronic signature.

The company is offering postal operators, for instance, a number of ways of connecting to the RPost Cloud. The quickest, cheapest, most painless way is to opt for, say, an iPad or iPhone app that produces the effect the user wants on his high-value data.

The next rung would be a web-accessible postal-branded user interface on local-managed postal servers or, for that matter, on RPost’s global servers that connects the so-called high-value data to the RPost Cloud for its special processing. At the top the ladder would be a complete postal-branded messaging platform that federates to the RPost Cloud.

RPost calls its new cloud a “cloud processing platform” and says it’s different from other people’s clouds because – unlike clouds where developers simply lease raw processing power or “cloud services” where people use their data on somebody else’s machines – its “cloud-based” servers change the data or messages they’re sent – according to the instructions that are relayed along with them – and return an improved product that can be sent to multiple parties.

Needless to say the thing is built on RPost’s Registered Email technology.

The company says it has transformed its patented processing networks into an open platform that IT departments, application developers, service providers and posts can use to extend their own applications and route outbound messages to the RPost Cloud for “finishing,” shall we say.

Because it’s a cloud, nobody has to have any of the hardware or software RPost has developed in-house. They can just borrow it, so to speak. Data can be routed using protocols such as SMTP, HTTPS or SOAP through RPost’s open APIs.

However, customers can also install RPost’s services, also called its apps, to make use of the services more intuitive and elegant. These are optional, but are often installed by the sender in desktop e-mail software programs such as Outlook and Lotus, mobile apps such as Apple devices and the BlackBerry, web browsers such as Explorer, Safari, Mozilla and Chrome and messaging platforms such as Salesforce.com.

RPost has opened these standard apps so they can be built into other people’s software platforms and programmatically trigger RPost features.

For example, service providers can filter outbound messages, determine which are “high-value” based on message content and route them to the RPost Cloud platform, say, for secure encrypted delivery with auditable proof of compliance with data privacy rules.

That can be done in most modern data leak prevention and mail gateway appliances such as Sendmail but both sending apps and APIs can be configured to filter outbound messages for normal versus high-value routing.

By default, the RPost Cloud doesn’t store data, but instead processes and transforms data in transit. Still, the RPost Cloud remains available to serve as the third-party authenticator of the transaction data for use as evidence anytime in the future. It can reconstruct the authenticated message content, transmission metadata, delivery level and status, and delivery times.

RPost figures it’s a first-of-a-kind but like other clouds pricing is on-demand and can represent a recurring revenue opportunity for developers.

RPost says its cloud is located in facilities that are under its direct control on servers it owns and operates. Its plans, however, allow for customized implementations, with RPost creating a secure private cloud for qualified governments and enterprises. It anticipates this by including combinations of local processing infrastructure, local web-based application access, and/or secure access to the RPost global infrastructure.