Reviews

Review: KnowNow

KnowNow 2 Enterprise Edition
starting at $15,000 for 15 concurrent users
KnowNow, Inc.
Sunnyvale, California
(408) 215-5083
www.knownow.com

Every once in a while (though not nearly as often as software vendors probably hope) I run across a demo that makes me think "hey, that's pretty spiffy." The KnowNow folks put on such a show for me the other day, and then sent me a copy of their software so that I could try it out for myself. What they've provided is an easy infrastructure for distributing information from Web services and other sources into a variety of clients including browsers and Excel spreadsheets. It's a wonderfully nonintrusive bit of middleware that works quite well.

You can see a little of the demo yourself: point a Web browser at http://sales.knownow.com/dev/forex/index.html. What you'll find is a page that points to a KnowNow LiveServer. The LiveServer in turn gets its data from a Web service. When you open the page in your browser, it subscribes to a publication from the server - and the server is quite happy to have multiple subscribers to a single publication. There's a bit of magic going on here with a hidden frameset, but it all works quite well.

It gets better from there. Imagine an Excel spreadsheet subscribing to the same data, after installing a simple add-in. Then with a few mouse clicks you can *publish* a cell from the spreadsheet to a LiveServer in your own organization. Then you can subscribe to it from another spreadsheet, or a browser. As an example of HST ("hooking stuff together") this is impessively simple.

It all works over http: or https:, so it's as secure as any other Web-based process can be. The server also supports a bunch of advanced features to make your life easier: store-and-forward event delivery, LDAP/ActiveDirectory authentication, clustering and failover support, for example. You can also configure the server to store events to disk before dispatching them, as added security against hardware failures. Oh, and there are versions of the server for *nix as well as for Windows.

KnowNow offers both concurrent and node-based pricing. Some readers may also be interested in their newly-launched Solution Partner program, which they've designed to help start pushing their technology to market more aggressively.

About the Author

Mike Gunderloy has been developing software for a quarter-century now, and writing about it for nearly as long. He walked away from a .NET development career in 2006 and has been a happy Rails user ever since. Mike blogs at A Fresh Cup.

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