Quadrant Widens Its Document-Input Reach with New SAP Connector
October 9, 2012 Alex Woodie
Quadrant Software last week unveiled a new connector that facilities bidirectional fax communication between SAP ERP systems and QuadraDocV, the new fax-over-IP (FoIP) document distribution solution it launched earlier this year. The company also announced its second release of QuadraDocV, which has become its flagship product and is clearly not just for FoIP anymore.
The launch of QuadraDocV this April was a milestone for Quadrant Software, a company that has become synonymous in the IBM i world with production fax solutions. While the company’s FastFax offering had been integrated into ERP systems and used successfully by thousands of IBM i shops, the reliance on “black box” hardware, fax cards, “rat nest” cabling, and traditional phone line connections had become a hindrance.
Quadrant’s customers were clearly asking the vendor to give it a pure software FoIP solution to replace the physical fax appliance and the supporting apparatus, and Quadrant delivered it with QuadraDocV. Now, with last week’s launch of the new QuadraConnector for SAP, it is clear that Quadrant is placing its chips on QuadraDocV (or QDV) as the future of the company.
QuadraConnector ensures that any documents generated by SAP users or SAP applications can be easily input into QDV, where it can be distributed by fax or other delivery methods. Conversely, any incoming faxes intercepted by QDV can be automatically uploaded into SAP, where they are presented to SAP users using regular SAP interfaces.
“The user doesn’t have to go outside the SAP environment. It’s all within the SAP environment,” Quadrant CEO Steve Woodard told IT Jungle last month.
The new software uses SAP’s preferred integration method for document distribution, which is the use of the Simple Mail Transfer protocol (SMTP). SAP has tested QuadraConnector and has certified its use with SAP applications, utilizing NetWeaver 7.3 and above.
The use of standard SMTP means QuadraConnector will work regardless of the platform SAP is running. “We don’t care what flavor of SAP it is and what platform it is on. QudraConnect will now take SAP output and route it then through our engine, QuadraDocV, and then send it, email, route it, convert it, or format it anyway anybody wants,” Woodard says.
The QuadraConnector installs next to the SAP server, eliminating the need for software to be installed on SAP client devices. The software generates messages for SAP users alerting them to the success or failure of document distribution. It also logs each inbound and outbound file, providing tracking and archiving capabilities, says Quadrant’s Vice President of Engineering John Clark.
The standards-based approach gives Quadrant a bigger potential customer base to sell QuadraDocV. “We’ve remained steadfast to the System, but [QuadraDocV] also allows us to peak under the hood of some other platforms and some other opportunities,” Woodard says. “We often found that customers of FastFax often went to SAP, and without that connector, we really didn’t have a way for us to take them with them. Now not only can they take us with them, we can go get other SAP customers. Whether they’re running on System i or mainframe or Linux, we can offer them the same QuadraDocV value.”
By the way, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that QDV is a one-trick pony that’s limited to fax. Fax may be how the product was introduced to the world, and it may be its biggest workload at the moment. But in addition to fax, it can email and format documents. “Fax is only one piece of it,” Woodard says.
Meanwhile, Quadrant is also readying QuadraDocV 5, which is the second major release of the product. This release introduces two key attributes: support for Microsoft‘s HyperV hypervisor, and a new Web interface.
The first release of QuadraDocV only supported VMware environments, so the support for HyperV widens the types of servers that QuadraDocV can run on. The new Web interface may be a more important feature, as it replaces a 20-year-old Windows fat client interface that had become cumbersome. (QuadraDocV had inherited the management interface that was originally used for FastFax.)
The new Web interface was developed in PHP, and will make it easier for administrators to manage remote QuadraDocV servers. Quadrant says the new Web interface will work fine in all major Web browsers. Users could also access the interface from a tablet device, provided they have the proper VPN credentials.