Published on 27-Oct-2009
Validated on 28 Oct 2013
"With ePDF Server for IBM Lotus Domino, we have gained a simple, seamless document protection solution which saves time and money through automation, and significantly enhances the security of our communications with external contacts." - Michael Ladegaard, Financial Director and Head of IT at Palsgaard
IBM Business Partner:
With its headquarters in Juelsminde, Denmark, Palsgaard A/S produces food additives such as emulsifiers and stabilizers for bakeries and dairies, as well as for the manufacture of chocolate, ice-cream and fine foods. Founded in 1919, the company was the first in the world to specialise in the manufacturing of emulsifiers for the food industry.
Palsgaard needs to send hundreds of orders, contracts, invoices and other documents to its suppliers and customers every day. The company’s email system itself was highly secure, but attached documents could be accidentally or maliciously edited by recipients – a potential risk to the business.
Palsgaard implemented ePDF Server for IBM Lotus Domino – a solution from IBM Premier Business Partner GroupWare AG. The solution identifies and captures emails addressed to external recipients and converts attachments into secure, password-protected PDFs before allowing them to be delivered.
The PDF format protects documents from accidental or malicious editing, giving Palsgaard confidence in the security of its communications. Passwords and PDF signatures help to ensure that documents can only be accessed by authorised users. The solution is completely seamless and automated, requiring no extra effort from users and reducing administrative workload.
To see a German version of this case study, click here.
With its headquarters in Juelsminde, Denmark, Palsgaard A/S produces food additives such as emulsifiers and stabilizers for bakeries and dairies, as well as for the manufacture of chocolate, ice-cream and fine foods. Founded in 1919, the company was the first in the world to specialise in the manufacturing of emulsifiers for the food industry. In accordance with the wishes of its founders, Palsgaard is owned by an independent, self-governing institution called the Schou Foundation, which protects the company from the influence of private owners or shareholders and enables it to focus on research and customer service, instead of chasing short-term profits.
Palsgaard operates in many different areas of the food industry, and works with a large network of customers and suppliers around the world. Managing its relationships with these companies involves the exchange of hundreds of documents – quotations, contracts, orders, invoices and so on – on a daily basis. For many years, the default option for sharing these documents was to send them as attachments via the company’s IBM Lotus Notes and Domino email system. In some circumstances, the company would send out hard copies of signed documents via postal mail instead.
Ensuring secure communications
Senior management at Palsgaard became concerned about these forms of communication for two reasons. First, the email attachments were usually Microsoft Office documents in Word, Excel or PowerPoint format. While these formats are very practical and accessible for most users, Palsgaard was worried that the documents could be easily edited, and therefore potentially posed a security risk if they fell into the wrong hands. Second, there was a feeling that sending paper copies by post was inefficient, generating considerable manual workload.
“The Lotus Notes and Domino email system itself is highly secure,” comments Michael Ladegaard, Financial Director and Head of IT at Palsgaard. “But email attachments in unprotected file formats can always be tampered with once they have been delivered. We wanted to find a way around this issue without increasing workload for our staff or resorting to slow, expensive methods like postal delivery.”
The potential of PDF
Palsgaard considered the portable document file (PDF) format, which provides security and also includes authorization signatures. The major challenge with a solution based on the PDF format was to avoid burdening users with the responsibility for converting documents to PDF: this would create significant manual workload, and users might forget to do it, leaving important documents unprotected. To solve this issue, operations needed to be fully automated and invisible to the user.
The system also needed to differentiate between external users, who should receive the protected PDF documents, and internal users (including employees located at branch offices and Palsgaard’s foreign companies) who should receive documents in their original, unprotected formats. In addition, the solution needed to allow users to manually override these rules in exceptional situations.
After performing a quick Internet search, Palsgaard discovered ePDF Server for IBM Lotus Domino, a server-based PDF conversion solution from IBM Premier Business Partner GroupWare AG.
About ePDF Server for IBM Lotus Domino
ePDF Server for IBM Lotus Domino is a highly scalable PDF rendition and document automation solution. It leverages the IBM Lotus Notes and Domino collaboration platform and is capable of rendering, merging, distributing and publishing any data held in Lotus Domino databases in the PDF file format – today’s de-facto standard for document exchange.
More than 300 supported input file formats can be rendered to PDF or validated PDF/A-1a and 1b, and can also stamped, merged, watermarked, encrypted, secured, concatenated, OCR’ed, zipped, and distributed automatically.
Delivering centralized, network-wide, one-stop PDF services within IBM ECM and Domino environments, ePDF Server provides a cost-effective and transparent building block for any kind of business solution, from messaging to workflow, document management, content management, customized product data management, and so on.
The solution is instantly available, with no programming required. With its self-configuring easy installation routine, the software can be up and running in less than three minutes. Integration into any IBM Lotus Notes and Domino environment can be set up via a simple point and click interface.
Return on investment from deploying ePDF Server for IBM Lotus Domino can potentially be achieved in a matter of weeks. Compared to other client-side ‘PDF print’ software, ePDF Server incurs no costs per seat or per click, creates no desktop deployment or software distribution costs, and has no negative impact on user productivity. As the PDF standard itself is rapidly developing, ePDF Server for IBM Lotus Domino is being continuously enhanced to maintain its leading position among server-based PDF solutions.
Working with a consulting team from GroupWare AG, Palsgaard conducted a briefing meeting and implemented the solution during a two-day on-site workshop.
How it works
The solution enables IT administrators to choose which types of data, such as Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents, should be converted into PDFs, and to set up a list of email domains (such as internal email servers, branch offices and Palsgaard foreign companies) which are exempted from the need for conversion. This enables ePDF to distinguish between internal and external email recipients, and tailor its behaviour appropriately.
When a user sends an email to an internal email recipient, the attachments are sent in their original formats – enabling the recipient to open and edit them as required. By contrast, all emails to external recipients are intercepted by the ePDF Server, which converts each attachment into PDF format, attaches a PDF signature and protects the file with a coded password. At the completion of the conversion process, the ePDF Server releases the e-mail and the Lotus Domino mail router instantly completes its task.
This helps Palsgaard ensure that attachments can only be accessed by authorised users, and protects documents from unauthorised manipulation. External recipients can open, read and print attachments in the usual manner; however, they are unable to remove, edit or supplement the content.
If for some reason a user needs to send PDF attachments to an internal email address, or original documents to an external address, the default process can be overridden with a single click of the mouse.
Benefits of the solution
“With ePDF Server for IBM Lotus Domino, we have gained a simple, seamless document protection solution which saves time and money through automation, and significantly enhances the security of our communications with external contacts,” comments Michael Ladegaard. “The solution is simple and elegant. It is almost invisible to users, so it does not create any additional workload for them. At the same time, it has practically eliminated the possibility of sending unprotected documents to external recipients. As a result, we can be confident that we are communicating the right information to external organisations, helping us avoid disputes and maintain a good relationship with our customers and suppliers.”
Products and services used
IBM products and services that were used in this case study.
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