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SMTP Efficiency

Hi all
I’m considering to use a program, that uses SMTP to deliver large amount of information (multi megs files) from one user to another, in a process of synchronization.
Can somone please tell me what are the pros and cons of this protocol for the aforementioned task and how it’s compared to other data delivery protocols, in terms of efficiency and ease of use?

** Some more details:
This program is supposed to be used by some 50 users at first stage. The program enables creating communities of common interest (such as a project that they all take part in it or a manual that some users contributes to). So, in this case, a community may contain from 2 users up to a dozen or two.
The information is synchronized between the users in the community, by sending to it via Email. The information may contain text messages with or without attachment. Attached files may be a word document, a picture or a presentation. So the size varies from few Kilos to 10 – 20 Megs per synchronization action.

What might be the consequences of this activity over SMTP. Is it robust enough to handle it, Which protocols would do the job better?


Thanks
Gidon
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gidonkenar
Asked:
gidonkenar
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1 Solution
 
awetherholdCommented:
When your dealing with 2 users it’s not too bad.  My only complaint with using SMTP to synchronize (we use ACT which is a sales database) is that when expand problems can occur.  It takes a couple syncs for all the databases to be consistent, so some people wait a couple days before they have newer records.  Keep in mind that the SMTP servers at both ends have to be able to handle the data size.  One of the servers out of our control was limited to 4 Meg files that cause us some headache.  In addition, now that we’ve expanded to 12 users who want to synchronize when it’s convenient for them, we’re looking at a back-end SQL server that individuals can dial into a sync themselves.  However, if you’re smaller and don’t have those issues, SMTP isn’t too bad for synchronizing data.
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gidonkenarAuthor Commented:
Edited text of question.
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gidonkenarAuthor Commented:
NOTE:
I've added some more specific ditails
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awetherholdCommented:
I think the protocol in itself is robust enough to handle it.  The questions I’d be more concerned about would be the servers (10-20 Megs would be rejected on a lot of servers) and the delay factor of synchronizing through SMTP.  So if you don’t have control over ever server, you’re going to run into problems.  The other thing I’d be concerned about would be the synchronization delay.  How does one user inform the other that they need the most up to date copy.  When does synchronization take place?  Does it happen every evening?  What happens if two users edit different copies then synchronize?  Which copy is kept and which one is discarded?

Those are a couple of the questions I’d be concerned about.  If those are all answered, and it just comes down to SMTP being able to handle large files; then as long as you can control the SMTP servers (or know they can handle the data) then my answer would be yes SMTP can handle it.

As for other procotols or different solutions, isn’t that going to depend on your program?  We’re currently in the process of moving away from SMTP synchronization to a SQL back-end server where each user either attaches to the LAN to access it real-time or dials into the network to synchronized.  What other options do you have available to you?
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gidonkenarAuthor Commented:
Well, I don’t have a handful of options. What happening is that my company is looking for a  collaboration solution for our sales persons to communicate and exchange data (as described in the qustion. One of the solutions we may test is a new program called Kanary (look at www.sekoya.com, if you can read French) and, as I described, it syncs users via Email.
As we are having a lot of problems using Email for ordinary tasks, I had some doubts....
?

Gidon
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awetherholdCommented:
Sorry, can’t read French, but since you mentioned the product is used to exchange data between the sales force, I can reiterate the problems we’ve had.  Basically, SMTP exchange programs work fine when you have a small number of users and a one- two day delay in information is acceptable.  Ironically, I just spent all of last night rebuilding our ACT database, which got corrupt because of a ‘bad’ sync packet.  Personally, I’m looking forward to moving off of ACT and going with a real-time database for the LAN users and one that remote users can dial-into and sync their information.
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gidonkenarAuthor Commented:
Well, thanks. I guess this is the kind of information I’ve looked for.
since you mentioned ACT, which I'm not quite familiar with, could you tell me what is about it that needed synchronize, is it an application of the same nature of synchronization via Email, or was it a private implementation?
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awetherholdCommented:
Act was a product by Symantec http://www.symantec.com/act/index.html , but just recently was purchased by SalesLogic (www.saleslogic.com).  It is a contact management database program.  The way we implemented it was each user has a copy of ACT on their computer and a copy of the database.  They would enter new customer records or update information on existing customers.  However, to keep everyone up to date, we send sync packets to one master database.  This master database then sends all the changes back out to each employee.  
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