Enterprise PDM Notification via GMail

One of the best features of SolidWorks Enterprise PDM is how notification within the EPDM ecosystem works out-of-the-box with zero config.  Obviously actions would need to be added in order to trigger the notifications, however setup and intgration with internal email servers is not required for this to function.

Although this is convenient, some would suggest having a separate inbox for EPDM notifications outside of Outlook can introduce "procedure fragmentation" AKA (confusion for the masses).  EPDM is easily configured to use an external SMTP (outgoing) server with, let's say, Exchange without much hassel.  The challenge comes in when integrating with services secured via SSL, like GMail.  SSL (Secured Sockets Layer) encrypts communication, adding a layer of security that many email/notification systems do not have baked into their configuration.

In our move to Google Apps, our CRM tool needed to now communicate with an external GMail account for sending and receiving email, however it lacked the ability to authenticate with Google's SSL servers. This limitation is also present in SolidWorks Enterprise PDM's SMTP Settings.

Stunnel to the Rescue!

There is a great free and open source application called Stunnel that offers an elegant solution to solve this SSL bridge requirement.

Stunnel Setup:

- Download stunnel and install it on the server running EPDM Archive service.

- Edit the "stunnel.conf" file (Start->Programs->Stunnel->Edit Stunnel Conf)

- Ensure the following is included or uncommented in the stunnel.conf

cert = stunnel.pem
socket = l:TCP_NODELAY=1
socket = r:TCP_NODELAY=1

client = yes

accept = 25
connect = smtp.gmail.com:465

- Save the stunnel.conf file 

- Install the stunnel service (Start->Programs->Stunnel->Service Install)

- Start the stunnel service (Start->Programs->Stunnel->Service Start)

Enterprise PDM Setup:

- Log into the Administration Tool

- Edit Message System and select "SMTP" from the Selected mail system pulldown.

- On the SMTP Settings tab, fill in your EPDM server address and port 25 (where you installed the stunnel service) along with the GMail user (username@gmail.com or Google Apps address) and password.

- Enter in the desired From Address and From Name to display in the email.

- Use Test Settings to send an email out to get a returned result!

This solution has been rock solid and can give many email tethered applications the ability to work with more sophisicated protocols like SSL and secure your communication in the end.  If you have other unique ways to achieve the same result, please leave a comment and share your solutions. ~Lou