Intel’s SuiteTwo

Intel has put together SuiteTwo, “a rich set of interconnected services that combine to improve productivity and enable high-engagement marketing. SuiteTwo includes the most trusted platforms for blogs, wikis, RSS feed reading, and RSS feed management, all under a single management interface.”

It includes:
– Blogging powered by Movable Type
– Wikis powered by Socialtext
– RSS feed reading powered by NewsGator
– RSS feed publishing powered by SimpleFeed
– Integrated Services provided by SpikeSource

Knowledge from Emails

Bill Ives writes:

I recently met with Thierry Hubert and Frederic Deriot of Knowledge Energies. They are coming up with some interesting ways to look into emails to abstract the knowledge exchanges that are normally lost through this channel. The use tags for this and these tags can be applied dynamically.

They write that most collaboration technologies like email ignore the importance of linking context and process when communication occurs so valuable knowledge is lost. This is one reason to switch to blogs as many have written about. In their approach, which requires some upfront discipline by the participant, context and process is captured so the knowledge gained can be obtained.

Esther Dyson on Office 2.0

Esther Dyson writes:

[Office 2.0 is] about the way the platform allows the sharing of information, but the trick is managing the processes, not managing the content.

That is, we need tools that will help us keep track of the workflow. For example, I send a blog post out to three people to make sure I quoted them correctly. Now I want a way automatically to ping the ones who haven’t responded. That’s a minor problem. But I have 20 or 30 of them a way…so I want a process spreadsheet, a tool that lets me set up little processes, copy and modify and re-use them. I want to be able to share them with other people. And, perhaps my company wants a way to create them and distribute them.

But in general, as we think about Office 2.0, we need to avoid the trap of thinking that work rules are centralized and hierarchical. Rules can be peer-to-peer too-if we have tools to create and share them in a bottom-up way.

Teqlo

Jeff Nolan left SAP recently and joined Teqlo.

The fundamental problem that has bedeviled application developers is that they are fundamentally disconnected from the people who use their applications. They have design partners and focus groups, beta periods where feedback is channeled back to the developers and tweaks made, and there are post-release initiatives aimed at improving the quality and satisfaction rate of the product but even in the best run process the users are not intimately involved in the development process. With Teqlo the users are intimately involved because they are the developer.

To expect that users, even power users, will be able to build applications that stitch together web services from multiple vendors is a stretch. Teqlo isnt attempting to build a new development language like Ruby on Rails that dramatically lowers the barrier, what we are doing is essentially reverse programming. Were treating development as a data flow problem, not a programming flow problem. If there is a core piece of technology that we have invented, it is the routing methodology and not the semantic definition of components; Teqlo takes web services that are wrapped up as components, we call them Teqlets, and determines the optimal sequencing based on the data inputs/outputs of each component. Yeah, its hard and there is a lot more to it than I am revealing here, but the point of this post is not to talk about our technology but rather what it means for users.

Dan Farber has more.

Coghead

InfoWorld writes:

In SMBs or workgroups in larger organizations, users who feel at home with technology are often frustrated that they have to rely on packaged software or custom-built alternatives when doing their jobs, according to Paul McNamara, Coghead’s chief executive officer. “There’s a large gap between the people who create the app and those who use it,” he said. “We let people who are close to a business problem create their own apps.”

Coghead is targeting corporate users who are comfortable creating Excel macros and understand business processes, he added. Coghead estimates there could be as many as 20 million such people employed in IT or operations units within SMBs or enterprises.

SAP’s Software Platform

Knowledge@Wharton has an interview with Henning Kagermann, CEO of SAP:

Knowledge@Wharton: For many years your products were primarily based on a three-tier client/server architecture. Now you are moving into Web Services. But various Web Services architectures have different goals. There is the ability to make software applications more modular, more easily configurable by the customer and more flexible for you to develop. But there’s also this notion of “on demand,” hosted “software as a service,” where the customer uses only a web browser. Are you doing both of those? Is one more important than the other?

Kagermann: They both are interconnected, but the first one is more important — that you have an architecture which is modular enough to “plug and play,” to use existing services to compose different innovative business processes. It means that you can innovate your process and be quicker than your competitor. Or you can better integrate into the process of your customer. That is the number 1 priority, because it gives us a competitive advantage.

The second one is more about how you deploy software and how you buy software. And, yes, with this architecture we will have different deployment options for having software “on-premise,” like today, but also in a hosted, on-demand mode. But we have one difference to traditional on-demand models. The traditional approach to “software as a service” is an ASP [application service provider] “hosted” model. So it’s one size fits all.

Enterprise Software Landscape

[via Sadagopan] Jeff Nolan writes:

1) Direct enterprise selling sucks, is highly inefficient, and makes you do unnatural things in your product strategy in order to drive higher deal sizes

2) Large enterprise software vendors are not the future…There are 38 million businesses in the U.S. alone that have less than 10 employees, there just has to be a way to grow our collective markets by appealing to these business users and Im pretty confident in saying that it isnt going to come from SAP, Oracle, or IBM.

3) The SOA-ification of big enterprise products has attacked a technical dimension, not an economic or business model one.

4) Big enterprise software has historically been a product driven development process, not a user driven approach.

5) Lastly, and most importantly, there are no new big killer apps that are going to be built for todays enterprise. Global business has spent the last 40 years automating every corporate function that is worth automating, and then they automated it again through process reengineering and once more when that didnt work out quite like everyone thought.

Smart Tech Stories

Forbes has 10 stories. One of them:

Construction company Emcor Group put voice, e-mail and specialized applications on a handheld device that fits in a shirt pocket. That’s providing a practical way to keep the people closest to the customer up to date.

Field technicians are now more productive, using a wireless dispatching system tied to Emcor’s customer support center. The result: Customers are served better and faster and with consistently higher quality. Technicians arrive promptly and are better prepared to address customer concerns.

The same device used by the technicians for this service application also is their cellphone. Emcor recently added e-mail delivery to the device, further integrating the tools and resources needed every day. The approach has improved time to invoice, invoice accuracy and overall customer satisfaction by more closely integrating the field to the office.

Office 2.0

Nicholas Carr writes:

That term is being used, with increasing frequency (and, naturally, decreasing specificity), to describe a new generation of personal productivity applications – the would-be successors to the component applications of the ubiquitous Microsoft Office. Office 2.0 applications are delivered as services over the internet, running in most cases within the user’s web browser. Many such “web apps” are already available, ranging from Google’s Writely word processor to Dan Bricklin’s wikiCalc spreadsheet program to Zoho’s Show presentation creator. They are, by design and necessity, much simpler than traditional “desktop apps,” and because they run on the internet they are in many ways (though not in all ways) more conducive to collaboration among many users. They are also, in general, easier to integrate with other popular Web 2.0 formats and tools such as tags, wikis and blogs.

Sun’s Plans

Robert Cringely writes:

It is an interesting idea, essentially giving away hardware in exchange for signing long-term service agreements, trading hardware margins for service margins. I hope it works, really, but I doubt that it will. And the reason it is likely to fail is Schwartz’s glib lack of understanding of his own people, who will tend to resist this change even if it means the death of their company.

Applications can be moved to faster servers, to multiprocessor servers, and ultimately to clusters of servers working together. But unless your application was designed to be distributed, the return in added application power from each added processor decreases until at eight processors or so it often isn’t worth adding any more machines to the grid. Google can do it, sure. Google can cooperatively run tens of thousands of servers, dividing among them a single task, but what makes Google different from you or me is that company’s 1000+ computer scientists who built the massively distributed system and keep it running.

Where’s Googlization for the rest of us? It’s called Appistry.

Google’s IT Strategy

Information Week writes:

Google managers tend to be reticent on the subject of IT strategy, they’re loath to talk about specific vendors or products, and they clam up when asked about their servers and data centers. But a day spent with some of the company’s IT leaders reveals there’s more to Google’s IT operations than a search engine running on a massive server farm. Behind the seeming simplicity is a mash-up of internally developed software, made-to-order hardware, artificial intelligence, obsession with performance, and an unorthodox approach to people management.

There’s a lesson in Google’s IT philosophy for other companies: Shun the herding instinct that leads toward the same systems and software everyone else is using. There may well be competitive advantages in doing things your own way.

Larry Ellison Interview

Quotes from a Forbes interview with the Oracle CEO:

You have to take a broader view and realize this is an industry like any other–telecom, railroads. They went through consolidation. Why shouldn’t the computer industry be any different?

This shouldn’t have been a surprise to anybody. But it seemed to be, and a lot of people thought I was nuts when I said these things. And that’s why we’re out there alone as a consolidator.

Building Oracle is like doing math puzzles as a kid. I was vehemently against acquisitions. Now, let’s buy everything in sight. Well, that’s a slight exaggeration. We’re a little more strategic than that. But everything was on sale.

I love problem solving. How to make the closet bigger in the house I’m designing. I know, it sounds funny. SAP is twice as big. Now, there’s no growth–what do we do? It’s all problem solving. Designing, building, problem-solving.

Jotspot’s Suite Plans

Nicholas Carr writes:

JotSpot is getting more ambitious. It’s transforming its wiki tool into a wiki platform – a Swiss Army Knife of office applications that run inside wiki pages. There’s word processing, spreadsheets, calendars, personal directories, even a photo gallery. JotSpot seems to be pinning its hopes on being a web version of Microsoft Office.

Can mini-Offices survive in an Office world? To see the challenge that a company like JotSpot faces, just listen to how it’s positioning its new suite. “It has some of the familiarity and functionality of Office,” Kraus tells MacManus; “it’s wikis meets Microsoft Office.” On the JotSpot site, the company says its word processor is “just like Microsoft Word.” It says its spreadsheet application “feels just like Microsoft Excel but on the web!” All of which leads to a simple question: Why do I need stuff that’s like Microsoft Office when I already have Office?

Coghead

Om Malik writes:

The three-year-old company, has combined various technologies – Ajax, RSS, and what not – with open source platforms and has developed a web based application development environment.

Like Ning, Coghead is also a web application development environment. Those who are familiar with Ning know that the Palo Alto-based company has created an environment where almost anyone can clone-and-customize applications to create their own social networks, community sites or even bookmarking services. DabbleDB is another company that can be loosely placed in the same class of start-ups.

Coghead, on the other hand is targeting corporate work groups who need custom applications developed and have to outsource that work. In this environment the the traditional customer software development model doesnt make sense because it takes too long, says McNamara. On-demand is the best option, since it doesnt interfere with the existing IT infrastructure, says McNamara. We are going for smaller groups, and not the IT department.

RSS as New Intranet Protocol

David Berlind writes:

With RSS as both the notification mechanism and the content subscription mechanism, you basically have a single technology that takes e-mail, e-mail attachments, and far too many round-trips (of email, to fully facilitate the collaboration) completely out of the equation.

With wikis, which can notify you when their content is changed via RSS, not only can the collaborators use 95% standard technology (there is no standard wiki markup language, yet), any and all virtual expression of the collaborative activities (new content, revisions to that content, annotations, comments, approvals, etc.) happen in the context of the collaborative environment. It’s all in the same one one that involves almost no proprietary parts.There’s no jumping back and forth between systems or even integration of multiple systems. No word processor. No special content management system. No e-mail. No strapped-on transfer stations to get it all working together.

Ray Lane on Web 2.0

Business Week has an interview with Ray Lane of Kleiner Perkins:

At Podshow, a company I’m on the board of, they find user-generated podcasts, promote it on their network, and syndicate advertising into those podcasts. So it’s a consumer business. I’ve had them come and talk to a number of enterprises, and it’s funny. There are these glassy looks on the executives’ faces because they’re the senior CIO types who have no idea.

Then they get into it. They see this is going to be a more democratic, bottom-up process where people are blogging and podcasting and using social networks. They see that’s going to be a great way to communicate because more of their customers are not going to be listening to radio or watching TV. They’re not going to be reading magazines. The only way you can communicate with them is through these new media.

Hybrid Utility Architecture

Nicholas Carr writes:

To put it another way, larger companies are reconfiguring their traditional IT assets as centralized internal utilities and then drawing in new or improved IT capabilities from outside utility suppliers such as SaaS firms. This hybrid utility architecture, as I would term it, enables much greater efficiency in running mature enterprise applications while also allowing companies to tap into the new generation of true Internet-based software. The hybrid model also provides a way for CIOs to defuse the tension between IT Departments focused on legacy applications and employees looking for new Web 2.0 capabilities – a tension that Peter Rip describes very well.

SaaS is looking more and more like the pivot between the IT of the past and the IT of the future.

Enterprise Tech Startups

InfoWorld writes about 15 companies to watch.

ActiveGrid speeds Web application development
Akimbi virtualizes the application test bench
ConSentry locks down the network
Determina pre-hacks applications against intruders
Fabric7 promises high-end servers at low cost
Fortify scours code for security vulnerabilities
Gigamon offers one view of many monitoring systems
Jitterbit shakes up application integration
JotSpot delivers enterprise wikis and mashups
Splunk combs log files for hidden problems
Sxip simplifies identity management across domains
TrueDemand keeps retailers from running out of stock
XenSource rolls out cross-platform virtualization
Zenprise spots Microsoft Exchange failures
Zimbra’s Web-based platform takes aim at conventional e-mail