About Zack SystemsI was chief technical officer (CTO) of Zack Systems from February of 2000 until we shut the company down in March 2002. Zack built a software + hardware appliance platform designed to put high-value user-facing services into any IP network. With the Zack platform any network provider could offer virus scanning, spam filtering, language translation, popup blocking, and other in-network services on an ala carte or package basis. All this was achieved without requiring any client-side or server-side software install.
While at Zack I:
I designed Zack's scalable, reliable, secure platform and led its implementation. Seven broad patent applications were filed based upon the innovations we developed. At Zack's largest, we had 30 engineers working on the product and over 50 employees. We achieved successful full-time test deployments including 100% of traffic flow in two ISPs and smaller trial deployments in half a dozen others.
Ultimately, Zack ran out of money because our customers (carriers and
network service providers) had run out of money. Right as our product
reached the market the market collapsed and investment capital dried
up. Nevertheless, I'm convinced that we will eventually see ala carte
edge services like virus scanning and spam filtering become the
essential ingredient for profitability in many ISP/NSP/carrier
contexts, just as we have seen network-based services like call
waiting and caller id become the engine driving local telco profits.
Zack appliances were clusterable for near-linear scalability and high reliability. When installed in conjunction with a layer 4 switch the Zack platform supported an "n+1" reliability model, where by sizing a cluster one machine larger than the expected traffic load the loss of any one machine in the cluster could be handled with no degradation in service. Extensive provisions were incorporated into the Zack platform for fault detection, automatic failure isolation, and graceful degradation when faced with hardware failures or software bugs.
The appliance hardware itself was a high quality commodity 1U rack-mount x86 server unit with modest RAM and disk requirements. A hardened Linux kernel was used to keep software cost down. The entire platform could be upgraded or downgraded in the field via a cryptographically secure packaging system.
copyright © 2003 Jason D. Campbell,
All Rights Reserved.
File /work/zack/index.mason, updated 13 May 2003