Howard Abrams

V.P. of Engineering
WireX Communications, Inc.

WireX was a company with two arms: one in host security and the other in web-based server administration. I joined WireX in August of 1999 to head this second arm. At that time, we had one official employee (besides the founders) and a prototype. We developed a shipping product ahead of schedule and began selling our product.

Online Documents
A list of some documents I wrote for WireX, and I place them here to give others a chance to see my writing style. These documents were confidential, but now contain out-dated material.
A whitepaper originally written for our RNA product. Written for use by sales and marketing personnel.
Multi-Server Administration
A whitepaper on our next-generation project.
RNAx Whitepaper
A whitepaper on an extension mechanism for our current product.
Appliance Console
A design specification for a new project.
Database Administration
Another design specification for additional features to our current product.
Product Release Notes

As with any startup (and especially with a startup during the bubble and the burst of the dot-coms), we had our obstacles, but I hired some great engineers, and we built some great products that allowed us to beat our competition and win contracts with large OEM vendors, like Compaq, Dell, and Intel.

My responsibilities extended beyond engineering, as I helped the marketing team position the product and the sales teams answer question and resolve concerns. I went on many sales calls to not only sell the product, but to gather feedback for future projects.

Remote Network Administrator

Our primary product was a web application that provided an easy-to-use interface to administrating Linux servers. I did all of the initial design and wrote almost all of the initial code. I continued to wear my engineering hat even after I had almost a dozen engineers working for me.

The product had four marketing goals, all of which were met:

  1. Easy-to-Use. Taking complex administrative tasks and presenting them to a often novice audience was always a challenge. However, my background in user interface helped us win contracts as soon as the customer saw our demos.
  2. Localized. Translated into Japanese and other languages.
  3. Customized. We primarily sold the product to OEMs who wanted custom branding and other features. Our modular design allowed us to easily meet customer requirements.
  4. Secured. Since our other company focus was host security, our administration product plugged holes that were usually open due to poor configuration.

In addition to these goals, we tailored the interface to be oriented towards specific markets, including ISPs and ASPs. We also built a technology for automatically upgrading deployed servers for bug fixes, updates, and new features.

The product was created from back-end Perl scripts and a template engine that I designed using Java servlets.

Other Projects

We had a couple of false starts on two other projects. One project, BYOSA, began life as a large web portal site, but eventually became our engine for upgrading deployed servers.

The other project was to extend the server administration program into a multi-server administrator. The goal of this was to configure large collections of servers. For instance, to install an application on half of the servers, to alter the network configuration for all servers connected to a particular router, etc. We are still working on this project, but I wrote an initial mock-up to help sell the idea to investors.

The project was designed using distributed services as a back-end engine (using Jini) and a web-based front-end client built from XML pages (using Cocoon).