BoldFish Inc. next month will launch what it claims is the first dedicated network for outbound commercial e-mail that rides on the Internet's infrastructure.
The BoldFish Express Network is a private, secure, spam-free network available to companies that use e-mail to deliver newsletters, stock quotes, sales confirmations, promotions and invoices. Early customers include Accrue Software Inc. and Broadbase Software Inc.
BoldFish sells server software for creating and sending large volumes of outbound commercial e-mail. BoldFish officials say the new network will let their software customers send thousands of e-mail messages per day faster and more securely without impacting their network infrastructure.
The software, which runs on a Unix or Windows NT server, lets users create high-volume e-mail messages with a point-and-click interface.
"As companies increasingly ramp up the amount of e-mail they send . . . it tends to put a strain on their [Simple Mail Transfer Protocol] relay services and the network infrastructure leading up to that," says Matt Cain, a vice president at Meta Group Inc.
"The attraction of the BoldFish Express Network is that it provides some intelligence outside the firewall, so you no longer have to assemble and send each of those e-mail messages on a one-off basis," Cain adds.
BoldFish Express Network will be sold on a usage basis, with prices starting at US$5,000 per month for sending 100,000 messages that are each 10K bytes. BoldFish Express Server costs an additional $30,000 per year for sending e-mail to 100,000 recipients.
Other companies offer fully outsourced commercial e-mail services, but BoldFish lets customers retain control over message creation while outsourcing the infrastructure for message delivery.
BoldFish's hybrid approach is attractive to Zing Network Inc., an online photo-sharing community that uses BoldFish server software to send a newsletter to 1.5 million members every other week. With BoldFish, the process takes from 24 to 36 hours, compared to a week using hand-crafted scripts.
"The network is an excellent idea," says Richard Fall, vice president of engineering at Zing Network. "As we grow larger, we'll probably want to outsource the physical mailing infrastructure."
But Fall wants to retain control over e-mail creation. "More of the mailings we do are based on our members' recent activities and interests," he says. "That requires a very strong connection to our database of member activity, which is very difficult to outsource."