NetX is a sophisticated system for storing, cataloging, and distributing discrete pieces of information — usually an “asset”. But it turns out that this application can be applied to a wide variety of challenges to solve real problems. NetX can be more than simply an “archive”: it can be a platform.
To give an example: take a global footwear and apparel company, with a hundred thousand fabric swatches. These“swatches”exist as physical pieces of fabric. But they also exist as metadata: how expensive is each fabric?; how fast can it be produced?; how environmentally friendly is it? All this data lives in a variety of disparate systems. So what’s the innovative designer to do when creating a new shoe? They’re likely faced with the frustration of finding the prefect material, only to find out it’s too expensive, or perhaps not environmentally friendly enough.
Enter NetX. Photograph all the swatches so they can be visualized. Then, add in all the data so the designers can search and find just the right material. The right look, sure. But also, just the right cost, time to market — factoring in all the criteria for a successful product launch.
Next, these are designers, so a simple database just won’t do. They expect a user experience that empowers them to design. And NetX’s X7 User Interface framework allows for the complete customization of that experience. NetX worked with the company’s creative agency; they developed a stunning UX, which was then powered by NetX’s application framework.
Take another example: a company that creates every weekly flyer for just about all the major grocery store chains in the US. Their challenge: production speed and accuracy. How do you ensure that the right products are displayed — using the correct photography, and the correct data? And do that, at a speed that will make your head spin: hundreds of flyers, across scores of customers, every week. Oh, it’s a new week? Let’s do it all again.
This company loads in photographs of every grocery store product — every single one. These are sources from a variety of services, including Kwikee, Item Master, and others. All this is fed into NetX: standard shots, holiday views, front views, back views — you name it, it’s stored, cataloged, and searchable.
Then, NetX developed a custom Adobe Creative Suite in-app panel so that this company can distribute InDesign operators all over the globe. They search NetX, and place imagery into those weekly flyers. So, what’s the catch? NetX can support a hybrid installation, where the data lives in the cloud — a central brain. But the files are cached in many locations — local to where the InDesign operators are working. So the search is fast, but the placement into InDesign is also fast.
NetX teamed up with a major developer of creative desktop software applications. They used to distribute templates, background patterns, and stock photography on CDs. That was the 1990’s; clearly physical media is an anachronism these days. Instead, they needed a global distribution system over the net. Additionally, they wanted to monetize this investment. There are now tiers: free materials are watermarked; or, pay a modest fee and gain access to the entire unwatermarked repository. We’re talking in-app searching and placing, so this is compelling to the designer who needs some additional material readily available so their project can be perfect.
How do you develop a system like this? It takes a number of participants, including NetX. First, there’s the desktop app itself; it’s been upgraded to search NetX directly. NetX plugs into Akamai’s global CDN, so files can be delivered to the end user in lightning speed, no matter where they are on the globe. But this is a paid service, so NetX worked with our customer, and with Akamai, to develop an authentication system such that all requests are routed back to NetX. These requests top 100 million per month! Yes, NetX can scale horizontally such that — as traffic demands — NetX instances are simply added to the cluster to meet the end-user SLAs.
This system has been entirely successful; and has been running for more than 5 years now.