[FoRK] Latest KnowNow review, by Mike Heck

Rohit Khare < angstro at gmail.com > on > Tue Dec 12 14:07:48 PST 2006

Sure, it was back on Nov 17, but for the full review, including  
Attensa and Newsgator:
http://www.infoworld.com/infoworld/img/47TCrss_sc3.gif (screenshot)

> Information Streams in the Enterprise
> By Mike Heck
> December 12, 2006 11:28AM
> Enterprise RSS is poised to become the focal point that employees  
> turn to for information, eclipsing individual aggregators plus  
> systems such as portals, intranets, and enterprise applications.
> ...
> KnowNow 3 Enterprise Syndication Solution 3.1.8
> ESS integrates several components for syndicating information from  
> RSS and various enterprise sources. The core LiveServer captures,  
> aggregates, and routes internal and external RSS feeds. ESS's  
> pleasant Web administration simplifies creating channels,  
> subscribing users and groups to feeds, and managing permissions.
> LiveAdapter, a unique feature of KnowNow, automatically transforms  
> data from back-office systems -- such as databases or CRM  
> applications -- into Web events, which are accessed as RSS or HTTP  
> subscriptions. ESS delivers information to subscribers using  
> SpeedReader (a zero-install Web client), plug-ins for Internet  
> Explorer and FireFox, or a Deskbar that sits in the Windows taskbar.
> I tested the hosted version of KnowNow 3, finding that its  
> administration side was on par with the other two products. The  
> tabbed interface, which persistently displays a folder tree of  
> categories, is especially intuitive to navigate.
> Creating RSS sources from any RSS or Atom feed just involves  
> pointing to the URL and completing a simple form -- with most minor  
> complaints found in the earlier version rectified. As part of  
> creating these feeds, I assigned them to multiple categories -- for  
> example, a travel policy was assigned to HR, news, and finance  
> feeds. Yet you may not have much feed-setup work beyond in-house  
> channels; ESS ships with popular free Moreover channels -- this  
> company also provides premium real-time news and business feeds for  
> a fee -- that are quickly added.
> Overall security was almost as good as NewsGator's --with ESS  
> accommodating authentication for users, groups, or channels. The  
> system also integrates with various LDAP authentication services.
> I also valued ESS's Aggregated channel, where I filtered and  
> combined several individual channels. Filters are especially  
> sophisticated. You can examine content for keywords and then route  
> the feed to particular groups. There's also a Transformation  
> Filter, which employs XSLT to convert, say, FIXML (Financial XML)  
> format into RSS format. Next, using the Permission tab, I quickly  
> controlled access to my channels at the group or individual level.
> LiveAdapters, a feature exclusive to ESS, allowed me to connect to  
> databases and other systems that aren't Web-enabled and turn this  
> important data into RSS feeds. This process takes a few steps but  
> shouldn't pose a problem for anyone with basic I.T. skills. Using a  
> separate Web interface, I set up connections to Microsoft SQL 
-------------- next part --------------
>  databases. Back at the ESS console, I then followed a three-step  
> Method Wizard to add and customize the feeds, such as entering SQL  
> statements that pulled records from my databases and presented them  
> in XML.
> KnowNow's LiveAdapter for Microsoft Exchange works much the same --  
> turning messages in e-mail or Exchange public folders into feeds.  
> This would be helpful when dealing with contractors or partners who  
> don't have accounts on your Exchange server.
> ESS doesn't have an Outlook Reader plug-in, but other reader  
> options are workable. SpeedReader -- an AJAX-style Web client --  
> combines a channel pane, space to manually aggregate items from  
> multiple channels, and a large reading area to view an RSS summary  
> or the article's complete Web content. In addition, you can set  
> alerts, which will send an SMS text message to your cell phone or a  
> standard e-mail message when a feed is updated.
> The companion SpeedWriter adds an extra dimension to ESS; a simple  
> form allows users to create posts to a channel, which the system  
> pushes to all subscribers. This is a great way for enterprises to  
> broadcast important information to all employees or specific groups.
> I also tested the browser toolbar and Windows Deskbar. Both did  
> their job of immediately informing me when new news items were  
> available -- with the Deskbar a bit more convenient because you  
> don't need to keep a browser open. In both instances, changes I  
> made in one interface -- such as deleting an article -- flowed  
> across to the other readers.
> KnowNow isn't as integrated with Exchange as the other solutions,  
> nor do you get the depth of collaboration functions found in  
> Attensa and NewsGator. But KnowNow ESS is certainly enterprise- 
> qualified. LiveAdapters dig deep into information repositories.  
> Plus, the filtering and feed transformation functions may be more  
> important to some organizations than feed ranking available  
> elsewhere. This system also equals the KnowNow and Attensa  
> solutions on the reporting and administration side.
> Tough Choice
> I can't knock any of these solutions. Their designers understand  
> that enterprise RSS is poised to become the focal point employees  
> turn to for information, eclipsing individual aggregators plus  
> systems such as portals, intranets, and enterprise applications.
> However, my testing did find differences you should consider.  
> KnowNow is better at getting content out of databases, whereas  
> Attensa has the slickest Outlook Reader. But NewsGator's broad  
> interfaces, collaboration, and integration with other systems such  
> as Microsoft SharePoint stood out.

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