Xtra clocks up email alert users

Hardware and software didn't make up the bulk of the $750,000 development cost of Xtra's new mobile email alert service, Telecom strategic alliances and technology architecture manager Shane Ohlin says.

Hardware and software didn't make up the bulk of the $750,000 development cost of Xtra's new mobile email alert service, Telecom strategic alliances and technology architecture manager Shane Ohlin says.

"A lot of the cost was the people time, making sure we've deployed and tested it properly. We capitalise that people cost as part of the project."

New hardware for the service includes a row of Sun 220 servers which Ohlin says "provide great bang for the buck".

A virtual private network connecting the servers with Telecom's SMS centres is also part of the project, with emails that match subscribers' profiles sent via the VPN to the centres, from where they go to subscribers as text messages.

Telecom is "probably a bit more privileged than other people connecting to SMS centres", Ohlin says.

"We're connected to the Telecom network, so I wouldn't describe [the VPN] as exactly as robust as if we were interconnecting two unrelated companies."

The VPN "is more to protect peoples' privacy".

The project began at the beginning of the year, the service went live earlier this month and uptake is better than expected, Ohlin says.

"We're fairly cautious when we do estimates of uptake. We thought 1000 people would sign up in the first month and reached that figure in two weeks."

Rules allow customers to choose which email senders they want to be alerted of and alerts consist of the first 140 characters of the email.

Ohlin took on the Telecom strategic alliances and technology architecture role following the disbanding of Telecom's internet and directories group, of which he was CIO.

In his new job, he will continue to work on Xtra projects and says future developments may include facilitating the sending of email attachments over mobile phones and PDAs.

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