Salesforce’s Multiforce

News.com writes about Salesforce.com’s new strategy – letting customers build their own systems.

Multiforce is also aimed at giving independent software vendors an opportunity to create products that expand the capabilities of Salesforce’s existing tools. Using the development platform, customers and ISVs are promised the ability to create new systems in the form of so-called Web services that blend seamlessly with Salesforce.com’s user interface and draw on data housed in the company’s CRM tools.

For instance, Salesforce has already created a tool that taps into the application programming interface for Google’s street mapping software. The hosted application is designed to let a Salesforce user generate maps to a customer’s offices using data from online CRM systems and Google’s code.

One partner, DreamFactory Software, which makes customization and integration technology for hosted software, is using Multiforce to extend the more basic CRM features built into Salesforce’s offerings.

At the heart of Benioff’s new strategy is the idea that companies with deep industry knowledge will have more success creating their own specialized programs than Salesforce could ever put together. Unlike rivals such as Siebel Systems, which already offers six different flavors of its own hosted CRM tools for customers in different vertical industries, Salesforce is betting customers, and more importantly ISVs, will clamor to build their own applications.

China Blogging

South China Morning Post has the story of Bokee, which raised $10 million recently:

It was not until June last year that Mr Fang and his business partner, Wang Junxiu, hired their first employee with the seed capital from Softbank.

In just over a year, the company has expanded to a staff of 210 and is hiring about 50 people a month. Mr Fang is optimistic Bokee can break even by the end of the year, and predicts the site’s registered bloggers will increase from 2 million to 10 million in the same period.

The site boasts big name advertisers such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Dell, but the plan to push the business of blogging into profitability goes beyond the traditional reliance on advertising.

Bokee has also partnered with Nokia, Samsung, Motorola and telecoms giant China Mobile to provide wireless blogging services for a fee. But the revenue generator Mr Fang hopes will make his listing dream a reality is based on the model of Korean blog site Cyworld. A virtual currency pilot program beginning this month will allow Bokee bloggers to charge their readers, with the site taking a 20 per cent fee.

Next-Gen Broadband in US

Broadband Reports has an interview with Dave Burstein:

BBR: What can we really expect in regards to a bell next-gen deployment timeline?

DB: In three to four years – because constructing facilities for millions of people take that long – expect that half of Verizon should have fiber at 15-100 meg, otherwise slow DSL. Half of SBC should have DSL at 10-20Mbps, from existing boxes 2,000-5,000 feet away (FTTN). The rest will be slow DSL and satellite resale. One-tenth of BellSouth customers should have 50Mbps+ service from fiber to the curb. Half of the rest should have 10-30Mbps DSL, often using two lines.

which solution do you see as the best of the next-gen options?

DB: Verizon’s fiber is the best stuff out there, especially after they switch to 2.4 gigabit shared GPON in a year. That’s why the smart cablecos are worried. What BellSouth and SBC are doing is essentially matching cable of 2002. By the time they deploy in 2007, cable should be well ahead.

But better technology doesn’t always win. Perhaps SBC, by spending less, will be able to price lower and do ok after all. Nobody really knows, although everyone has an opinion. My opinion is that the best tech is needed, especially in an HD world, and Verizon is making the right choice. But some very smart people have looked me in the eyes and said “the fiber numbers just don’t work. Still costs too much,” and other similar comments.

Contextual Ads

Mark Glaser analyses the offerings from Google and Yahoo:

The first rule of thumb for contextual ads is the opposite of the old local TV news maxim, “If it bleeds, it leads.” In the case of hard news related to war, terrorism, rapes, murders and other unpleasant current events, the best bet could be to remove contextual ads or just run more generic run-of-site ads. Of course, some site publishers have no problem with hawking commemorative Iraqi War playing cards on stories about people dying in the war.

Yahoo’s ContentMatch uses various sensitivity filters for what ads are shown with content — along with human oversight from a staff of more than 100 editorial people. Paul Volen, who is vice president of product marketing for Yahoo Search Marketing, told me that Yahoo’s human oversight is what differentiates his service from Google’s.

“First, we do have a dynamic proprietary algorithm which takes the theme of a page and matches advertising to it,” Volen told me. “We also add a layer of editorial oversight to that. We look at a site and try to understand if there’s content that’s evergreen and won’t change, like index pages that are generic and aren’t updated every day. In those cases, we could have the editorial staff look at them and come up with the best matches. We work with the publishers pretty closely across their site to figure out how we want to attack the relevancy and matching.”

Google doesn’t have an editorial staff for AdSense, but does assign account managers to bigger sites for the premium level of AdSense services — though it is only available for sites above 20 million page views per month. Gokul Rajaram, group product manager for Google AdSense, told me that there are just too many dynamic pages served for humans to watch every ad that’s served up.

RSS as Marketing Tool

Th New York Times writes:

Google, Pheedo, Feedster and Yahoo Search Marketing are all peddling advertising options for R.S.S., an increasingly popular way of having a personal computer automatically retrieve information from the Internet.

For example, R.S.S. users interested in local weather could view forecast updates on their computers without having to visit a particular Web site.

Some big companies, like Verizon, are starting to buy space in the R.S.S. information streams, which are selected anonymously and pulled from Web sites by a PC.

R.S.S. may be getting bigger soon. Microsoft has announced that R.S.S. – the abbreviation stands for Really Simple Syndication – will be integrated into its next Windows operating system. Microsoft’s announcement makes it more likely that R.S.S., used for years only by the tech-savvy, will become more of a mainstream computer tool. R.S.S. was helped last year when Yahoo put it on My Yahoo pages.

R.S.S. is somewhat like TiVo for the Internet. By letting people have content pulled from Web sites and fed to their own computers automatically, they can then store it for later viewing. The growing number of R.S.S. users has some online publishers – they are now the biggest group of suppliers of R.S.S. feeds – starting to worry that R.S.S. could take eyeballs away from their existing advertisements on the Web.

TECH TALK: Next-Generation Networks: The Future

Peter Sevcik, president of NetForecast, lays out the forces that are shaping next-generation networks:

Innovation Moves Up And Out: The bulk of technical innovation is shifting from network cores and low-layer protocols to the edge and upper-layer protocols. This movement up-and-out is both a natural progression of the TCP/IP success story and a byproduct of core network scale. The core is huge, must operate non-stop, and is built out of optical components and ASICs. The core cant change quickly any more But the edge is still fast-changing software running on general-purpose computers. These innovations are strictly focused on Layer 4 and above, where the news is what it doesthe applicationrather than how its done.

Technology Lock-Down: Big carriers have power, and they are finding new ways to use it. They are using their purchasing clout and customer base to go back to forcing the consumer to buy the terminal with the service.

Power Concentration: Even as carriers are working to lock down the technology, big players of all sorts are moving to consolidate their market power in the networks of the futureFor starters, not only are carriers exercising dictatorial control over their own networks, theyre also seeking to extend their domination over the playing field on which those networks compete. Not content simply to wield monopoly control over the last-mile copper (and soon fiber), the incumbents are fighting any newcomers.

Regulation: Of course, the ultimate power player is the government, and its a sure bet that the Internet will not remain unregulated for much longer.

Conclusion: These forces are set to clash: Innovation against walled gardens. Business might against government power. Notice that technology has very little influence in shaping the future. The next generation networks will be defined by how the trends find temporary states of coexistence.

So, whats really changing? In the past (and true even now), there have been separate networks for voice, data and video. The phone system has carried our voice calls, while the Internet has been used for our data traffic. Video (especially TV) has relied on its own networks primarily a combination of cable, satellite and terrestrial broadcasting. What is changing now is that the shift is happening from vertically integrated networks to horizontally-integrated networks, which decouples the services from the transport layer.

We are seeing a fascinating evolution in the networks that connect our computers and mobile phones to services. On the wired networks, technologies like VDSL2 have the potential to dramatically increase the connectivity we have available at home and work. In the wired world, 3G networks are starting to get deployed. WiMax is also being touted as an alternative to 3G. For now, technologies like EV-DO offer hundreds of kilobits per second connectivity for the early adopters. Among other technologies, one which is getting increasing recent interest is Broadband over Power Lines (BPL).

In other words, NGN is all set to usher opportunity as disruption as the worlds of mobile and fixed networks collide. At the same time, they will also usher in a new dynamic in network-aware applications.

Next Week: NGN (continued)

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