Cadis's Krakatoa is a complex piece of software that allows users to gradually narrow down their searching criteria to find specifically what they are searching for. National Semiconductor Corporation is using Krakatoa to make their entire product line of over 30,000 component parts available over the Web, providing interactive access to their product information based on attributes of interest to the Web user Krakatoa consists of three integral pieces of software:
The installation of Krakatoa is no simple matter, consisting of a multiple step process. To quote the Installation Manual, "This guide is intended for experienced system administrators whose responsibilities include the installation of software and the maintenance of networked servers and client systems." You have to uncompress the server software and knowledge base, run the install scripts, customize the registry files and scripts, start the registry server and License Manager, and start the Knowledge Base Server. Luckily there is a sixty-seven page Krakatoa Installation Guide and a twenty page Krakatoa Java/HTML Installation Guide to get you up to speed.
- The Krakatoa Server (written in C++) is an object-oriented knowledge modeling engine that serves Krakatoa knowledge bases. (The Krakatoa Server consists of three parts: the Krakatoa Knowledge Base Management System, the Schema Authoring Tool, and a C++/Perl API.)
- The Krakatoa Java Proxy Server is a special security feature that is a relay between the Krakatoa Server and the clients it serves.
Documentation for Krakatoa is very comprehensive, including a 200 page API Developer Reference Manual and a 182 page Schema Authoring Tool Manual.
Krakatoa has been designed to be a secure product, with or without firewalls. When no firewalls are present, the Java client works directly with the Krakatoa Java Proxy Server. If firewalls are present, simulated sockets are used to transport the data betwen the client and the proxy server, which does not allow any external address information. External sources are prevented from providing bogus address information that would allow a hacker to get to an unintended host. The Krakatoa Java Proxy Server and the Web (HTTP) server must run on the same host, although the Krakatoa Server may run on a different host.
The cost of Krakatoa includes training for one representative that will attend a CADIS System Administration training course. This individual will then be the technical contact for the site, and may contact CADIS for technical support via phone, email or fax.
The cost of Krakatoa ($25,000), not the learning factor (Krakatoa is no harder for a developer to learn to use than an Integrated Development Environment or 3D design tool might be) might stop many small companies from purchasing it. However, the cost may be minimal when compared to the benefits. Krakatoa can increase the efficiency of customer searches by providing a more accurate description of items and a faster method of identifying and finding the items. For the company that manufactures these items, Krakatoa can help avoid the creation of a new item when a suitable one already exists, and can reduce the duplication of items within an information system, which lowers the overall costs associated with managing and using items within such a company. Deciding whether to invest in the future can be a difficult decision for some. For me, it's simple... never look back.