Founded in 1999 Microforge.net Limited is a small internet based software development company who develop network auditing and helpdesk software used by IT professionals to inventory hardware and software on their networks and keep track of tasks and servicing related to that equipment. Customers include small businesses, military organizations, government departments, universities, schools and Fortune 500 companies, from over 35 different countries.
Typical customers would be anyone with less than around 1200 machines, however the new product (Microforge.net Enterprise Server) targets a much wider market than that. ENT Server was written using distributed technologies, and designed to work with networks that might have 10s of thousands of machines on them.
Explains Senior Engineer James Crosswell "Enteprise Server was to be a solution that could work with hundreds of users and 10s of thousands of machines. So ENT Server would be written from the ground up using distributed technologies. I spent about 3 months simply researching which looking at technologies to use in the new products."
"For the web portion of the project, I considered PHP, Perl, JSP, C# (.NET) and Intraweb. For the windows portion of the project, I didn't have to look elsewhere, since I already knew about DevExpress. I simply had to purchase a subscription ;-)"
"I was already familiar with Developer Express - I had used version 3.0 of their grid technologies in Network Inventory Manager and their Master Grid in Network Auditor, but it was somewhat surprising that I eventually decided to go with a Developer Express product (Express Web Framework) for the for the web based modules of Enterprise Server. However, choosing a Delphi solution for the web based interface meant that a lot more code and data structures could be shared between the windows and web based modules, and the middle tier itself. Additionally, since our code wouldn't be available to all the world (as with scripting languages like PHP and JSP), it would be much simpler to technically implement whatever licensing system we chose."
ENT Report Forge, is a windows based reporting application and uses the Developer Express components to present a clean and simple interface from which users can design reports and manage permissions for these reports, for their Enterprise Server
ENT Web, the web based interface, was written using Developer Expresses EWF (Express Web Framework).
ENT NetCenter is the primary windows client and almost 90% of the interface was developed using Developer Express technologies.
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Says Crosswell "I was able to put the bulk of the interface together quickly, using a combination of Express Layout and Express Editors 4. Using the look and feel and styles controls allowed me to create an interface that was consistent with that of the web based client, so that any of our users who were using one would quickly feel at home using the other."
Enteprise Server was released in July, 2004.