Isode is 15 years old

Fifteen years ago, six of us started the current Isode company. We’ve had quite an adventure and this seems an appropriate time to step back and reflect.

I founded the original Isode organization 25 years ago and we focussed on the M-Vault Directory and M-Switch SMTP/X.400 products (which had different names then). Isode became a part of MessagingDirect which did e-Billing and was sold to ACI (as US Company). New Isode took on M-Vault and M-Switch in 2002, along with a number of customers still using these products. We were fortunate that many old Isode customers had continued to use M-Switch/M-Vault and were delighted to see Isode return.

I started drafting this message with a history of new products, customers, and markets. It became clear that this would end up as a very long messages of limited interest. So I have picked out a few highlights of the 15 year road from a start-up without offices or cash to a financially stable company with many products, customers and markets.

The Isode achievements I am most proud of are where our software products get deployed to support mission critical deployments around the world. Some of my favourites are:

  • The AMHS (Aviation) market, where M-Switch is used in a majority of countries in the world to support ground to ground communication in support of civil and military flights.
  • The NATO M-Link deployment in Afghanistan, in support of the Resolute Support Mission.
  • Use of M-Vault directory to underpin most of our messaging and XMPP deployments, and as standalone services such as support of the US Government Federal PKI and our oldest UK customer.
  • M-Switch MIXER deployments, particularly in the UK, to support transition from X.400 to SMTP

We are foremost a technology company and I’m proud that we are able to lead in new technology areas (notably XMPP and HF Radio) and to apply modern innovative engineering to our products supporting older technologies (notably the world of ACP 127, Serial Lines, and messaging without lower case letters that we have recently embarked upon). Open Standards are central to the Isode Philosophy and I’m delight that Isode staff (including me) have been able to contribute to new standards in IETF, XSF and NATO. We plan to continue this and to have products supporting new open standards to help effective deployment.

A board member of the original Isode told me that start-ups initially see technology as the priority and as they evolve the priority shifts to people; he was spot on. I am immensely proud of the Isode family of staff; there are about 40 of us now, with a few who have been with Isode for over 20 years. We are centred in Hampton, with individuals spread around the world (Canada, Netherlands, USA, Germany, Peru and Wales). This relatively small group of people have brought a wide range of high-end software products to market and are able to support them through a wide range of our channel partners.

15 years is not an end point, but where we are on the journey. We are seeing exciting growth opportunities, particularly in our military markets, and we plan to take advantage of this. Over 15 years we have shifted from “server only” to providing clients, servers and comprehensive management and provisioning for both Messaging and XMPP. Our initial client focus is
very much for our evolving military markets, but I am looking forward to applying the security and resilience characteristics that are central to these markets into broader areas in the next 15 years.

Onward!

Steve Kille
CEO, Isode

R16.6 Now Available

The latest release of our complete product set, R16.6, is now available for customers and evaluators. In this blog post we look at some of the key changes, you can find a complete list on the Isode website.

New Product: Harrier Email Client

Harrier is a web-based secure email client with capabilities that make it ideal for use in support of military messaging deployments (including ACP127). Harrier includes support for security labels, time-related controls (reply by, expire on, deliver by) and Subject Indicator Codes (SICs).

Harrier can also operate as a general purpose client, providing a high performance, easy to use web interface to an IMAP/SMTP service.

New Messaging Server Capabilities

R16.6 sees a substantial extension of ACP127 support in M-Switch to provide a comprehensive ACP127 gateway and relay service. We’ve also added a range of capabilities in support of NATO BRASS (Broadcast And Ship to Shore) including support for BRE1TA (BRASS Enhancement One Technical Architecture).

New management capabilities include views in our MConsole management GUI to support management of ACP127 features, message history and operator alerts. A new web interface is provided for message correction, especially useful in military deployments where errors are handled by central operators and not returned to the sender.

M-Store X.400 has been enhanced to significantly improve performance and scaling, with message indexes now handled directly by M-Store (in previous versions this was held in M-Vault). M-Store R16.6 can store 100 million messages in a server, with mailboxes holding up to 100,000 messages.

Instant Messaging Enhancements

R16.6 sees a number of improvements to our M-Link XMPP server/gateway product including enhanced clustering to improve performance and simplify administration, control of messages based on maximum message body size and improved account provisioning for user information held in our M-Vault directory.

Download Today

R16.6 is available for download now from the Customer and Evaluator sections of the Isode website, both of which require you to enter your Isode login and password. If you have misplaced your login details (or wish to obtain a login in order to evaluate this release) please contact your Account Manager or reply to this email.

Documentation for this release is available from documentation page, which does not require a password.

Upgrading from R15.1

Isode provides full support for Major and Minor releases of Isode’s server products, management tools and APIs for five years from the date of release. As of the end of November 2016, R15.1 came off of full support.

Release Notes for fully supported releases (currently R15.2, R16.0, R16.2 and R16.3) provide instructions for upgrading from R15.1. If you would like Isode advice on your upgrade and you have a current Isode support contract, then please get in touch and we’ll be happy to provide assistance with this and answer any questions you may have relating to R15.1 and support.

You can contact us either by emailing the support department or by using the Isode Self-Service Portal.

Reporting from the Nordic HF Conference – New HF ALE (Automatic Link Establishment)

Isode CEO, Steve Kille, is attending, presenting at and reporting from the Nordic HF Conference (HF 16) on the island of Faro, Sweden.

Professor Eric Johnson led Wednesday morning’s session with an excellent presentation on new ALE work, called 4G ALE or Wideband ALE (Wideband ALE – The next generation of HF). This was followed by a presentation by Harris on preliminary measurements. Eric noted the importance of work in this area to support new WBHF and to reduce setup times. This is key technology for HF.

This work is being done by US DoD, with support from key US vendors (in particular Harris and Rockwell Collins). I asked when details of this work might be made available, and the answer was “not clear” and perhaps end of next year. This will likely be at the point when the work is published as a US Mil Spec. Then it will be shared with the rest of the world, and presented as a fait accompli for NATO to standardise. This may be a good way to achieve a solid standard. However, it feels to be locking out non-US involvement and giving unfair competitive advantage to US vendors.

Reporting from the Nordic HF Conference – Wide Band HF

Isode CEO, Steve Kille, is attending, presenting at and reporting from the Nordic HF Conference (HF 16) on the island of Faro, Sweden.

WBHF is a key new development, and there were two good papers at Nordic HF on measurements during Session 2 on Monday.

Vivianne Jodalen, Terje Mikal Mjelde and William M. Batts reported on measurements made in the arctic (Wideband HF in the Arctic) and measurements made across the Atlantic (Performance of a transatlantic long-haul wideband HF system).

The good news is that a range of successful measurements were made in over-the-air environments. The practical results suggest that 6kHz channels (wider than 3 kHz narrowband) can often be achieved, but it was often not possible to realise the maximum of 24kHz. Throughput was generally quite a bit less than the “top end”.

While this is useful information and gives performance much better than narrow band, it is a long way short of the top end 120 kbps. I think there is a real risk that people have been over-sold WBHF and will be disappointed with the reality. This would be a pity, as it offers useful improvements.