Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Snow White Label and the Seven Deadly Dwarfs

Snow "White Labels"

"Seven things to lookout for when shopping
 for a white label solution."

If you have ever looked for a way to extend your companies service offerings, by on-selling a
"White Labeled" product, then you should bear in mind the "Seven Key Features" that every customization service should offer.

In an on going effort to make the experience of of using our email branding service as effortless as possible; we now offer the interface as a "White Labeled" product. To make it even simpler for ISP (Internet Service Providers) and ESP (Email Service Providers) companies to gain the leverage of a powerful product while keeping control of how there customers in turn interact with it.

Webopedia.com defines a "White Label" as:
A product or service, especially common in the in the financial sector, where the provider of the service purchases a fully supported product from another source, then applies its own brand and identity to it, and sells it as its own product. The purchaser assumes the seller is selling its own product. - http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/W/white_label.html
Seven Deadly Dwarves that have to be accommodated:

Before we could begin to offer a fully "white labeled" service there where a number of little obstacles that had to be overcome first. I've taken to calling then the seven deadly dwarves so bear with the corny references to the little blighters.
  1. Simple to provision a new re-seller:
    Making it as easy as possible for a new re-seller to sign up is a task not to be "Sneezy" - ed at.

    Our system's required a powerful back-end management system to allow for fast and reliable provisioning of new re-sellers. The SASY (Synchronous Applications for SYNAQ) system has been in production for over a year and is the backbone of our single sign-on and application roles and privileges engine. The system makes it possible for us to manage many re-sellers from a single console, thus giving our call center staff a powerful tool to resolve any question that a re-seller may have.
  2. Easy for the re-seller to manage accounts:
    Make it simple for a re-seller to manage accounts. We have put a lot of effort into our new  interactive re-seller "Doc" to make learning how to interact with the back end a snap.

    Gone are the days of reading reams and reams of technical documentation, to find out how to add a new company to you re-seller account, or how to get a list of addresses for a domain.

    With the simple to use application we not only describe how our REST interface works and give practical examples, but we also provide a working  interface so that it is as easy as providing your  name and password and you can begin adding accounts right from the documentation.
  3. Flexable framework to accommodate new Trade Dress:
    Not every re-seller wants to look the same. Most companies have spent a lot of time and money building their brand and will get rather "Grumpy" if the service doesn't fit with the trade dress.

    We have put a lot of thought into the way our system delivers the CSS and Interface javascripts and finally come up with a method that is both fast and flexible.

    Making use of a CDN (Content Delivery Network) allows us to not only ensure that all web app images and style sheets are as close to the end user as possible, it also allows us to "Cascade" all the layout from the basic "BrandFu" master layout down to each elements look and feel, including all the system email messages for things like resetting a password and reports.
  4. Dynamic roles and privileges:
    Not every re-seller wants to provide their users the same functionality. Even the most computer literate end user will occasionally do something really "Dopey" like removing the wrong address. This can be prevented by only giving access to certain tasks to the users.

    The SASY system I spoke about before, provides a powerful way for us to customize what each user can and cannot do and see. So that we can allow re-sellers to pick and choose from any of the services interface options.
  5. Powerful analyses to report on:
    The re-seller needs to know what the users are doing on the site, this will keep every one "Happy" all the activity on the site, including special actions and email links are integrated with the Google Analytics service, so that a re-seller can get reports on how their users are interacting with the application.
  6. Secure interface for peace of mind:
    Each component from the API to the Email transport and delivery has security as it's foremost principle. Security is not for the faint hearted and a "Bashfull" approach will not do.

    As mentioned before, we make use of a REST API, that uses a shared private key to ensure that every request is unique and secure. We implemented a range on methods that a re-seller can get email processed by our service,
  7. Hosted on the cloud or on the re-sellers hardware:
    Some re-sellers prefer to host the service on there own network and hardware, the reasons for this  are varied. Some networks can be "Sleepy" and by running our servers as a virtual appliance on their own local network this lag can be eliminated.

    How ever there is no need if you would prefer to use our more traditional cloud implementation, and simply route the email through our secure servers for transformation and or final delivery.

In my next article I will be discussing how all the branding magic happens, and what we have up our sleeves for the rest of the year. so watch this space.

Until next time, happy branding.

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