Friday, May 23, 2008

Microsoft opens philosophical can of worms with Live Search Cashback

Talk is bubbling up across the blogosphere, Gillmor Gang and Techmeme daily about social graph personal information. This may be among the most important discussions and topics of our time. How the "social mesh" works out now will affect our lives and businesses for a long time. It may even impact how we define what "me" is online. We really need to get it right, ASAP.

Yet much of the talk focuses on technology, privacy, use rights and still loosely defined standard approaches to protecting user control over data. It's still murky about how the online social network services will own and control the user- and relationships-defining data inside of their social networks, including Twitter. But there's a larger set of issues that has to do with how we want technology and the Internet to affect us people, as a business, as a society, as a market of markets and as a species.

UPDATE: Many of these issues came up, especially toward the end, of Friday's Gillmor Gang with Google Director of Engineering David Glazer. One takeaway is that, ironically, Microsoft should be among Google Friend Connect's best friends.

The discussion on social graph data portability gets to a philosophical level quickly, because the ways we have codified our personal relationships to each other -- and to larger organizations or power centers -- over eons does not necessarily apply adequately to the new virtual boundaries. It's hard to know on the Web what defines the rights of the individual, the family, tribe, community, company, village, town, state, nation, civilization, race, or species. Do accepted and proven cultural patters offline fully translate into social patterns online?

The older established "contracts" -- from Codex Hammurabi to Magna Carta to Mayflower Compact to U.S. Constitution to the User Terms of Agreement -- do not seem to get the job fully done anymore. It's not clear what I am entitled to online, whereas I'm pretty sure I know what I'm entitled to offline, and I know what to do to enforce getting what I'm entitled to offline legally, ethically and politically.

In essence, we as online users and small businesses don't have any social-order contracts with the online providers, other than what their lawyers put in the small print when you "accept" their free or paid services. And, of course, they have made available their privacy policies for all to see. So there. Click away, users galore, while they store away the user data and relationships analytics.

As a person, you only retain the right not to click (as long as you pay throughout the two-year user subscription agreement, or suffer the penalty charge for leaving). If you're lucky you'll be able to take your phone number with you if you walk, but not necessarily your email address, or your contacts, your social interactions definitions. Most of the data about whatever you did while nestled in the rosy social bosom of their servers, remains with them unless the volunteer to let it be open. So far.

Without belaboring the implications on the metaphysical scale, my point is to show that how our online social interactions as currently defined and controlled place us into uncharted territory. And as with any social contracts, the implicit and explicit ramifications of where we find ourselves later on needs to taken very seriously.

We'll want the ability to back out, if the unforeseen future warrants it, without too much pain, with our open data in tact. We should all want escape clauses for what we do online the next several years, just to be safe. Who you gonna call if it's not fair?

If things don't go well for the user or individual business, what could be done? Because this is about the Web, there isn't a government to lobby, a religious doctrine to fall back on, a meta data justice code of conduct, nor an established global authority to take directives from. The older forms of social contract enforcement don't have a clue. There is only the User Terms of Agreement, the codex of our time. Read it and weep.

Because this is about the Web, the early adopters basically make it up as they go and hope for the best. It's been a great ride. The service providers try and keep up with the fast-changing use patterns, and then figure out a business model that has legs. They write up more User Terms of Agreement. Startups get funded based on their ability to get some skin in the game, even without a business model. They show the investors the User Terms of Agreement, and get their rounds. More work goes into the User Agreements than into the infrastructure to keep the thing working once the clicks come.

This laissez-faire attitude has worked pretty darn well for building out the Web as an industry, thankfully. But now we're talking about more than building out the no-holds-barred Web, we're talking about social contracts ... We're talking about what the user possesses from their role in building out the Web, in populating the social networks, the authoring of the blogosphere. Is there any social collective ownership or rights by the participants in the Web? Or is it only really -- in the final analysis -- owned those who control the means of production of the services?

There's the Web, and there's the blogosphere -- are they they same? What rights does the individual, the person, the blog entity have on the commercial Web? Does the offline me possess the same social powers online? I really don't know.

What's clear is that people like Mike Arrington, Marc Cantor, Steve Gillmor, Robert Scoble and Dave Winer (among many others) want as much freedom about what they do online as what Western Civilization has endowed on them and their ancestors offline. In some circles, and some of these people, want even more social power online than what has been the norm offline. More power to them.

There is a power clash a brewin'. The U.S. has long struggled over states rights versus federal rights. The individual has looked to both -- and pitted them against each other -- to define and protect individual rights.

But what about online? When push comes to shove, how does the individual rights assert themselves against what the services provider can perfectly legally assert? If the server farm says they own your online address book, they probably do legally (see the Use Terms). If they say they own the meta data from your click stream on their servers over the past three years, they probably do.

So far, user rights have been strictly voluntary on behalf of the providers. Some are built into agreements. The needed rising tide of online adoption patterns and essential need to generate traffic and clicks has protected users, to a point. Let's hope it continues. I hope voluntary is enough.

Folks, you should recognize that you already have a lot of power, given the fact that social networks are falling all over themselves to show how "open" they are. They fear that you can and will bolt, even if you lose some data (the first time). Data portability is recognized by the Googles and Microsofts as hugely important, shouldn't it be huge to all of us, too?

Because as we move to always-on social interactions across all we do on the Web, what we do socially online may begin to outweigh what we do socially offline. For some of us this is already true. What distinguishes us as online or offline is blurred, and I believe will grow more so and any difference will become irrelevant.

I am social, therefore I am social. It will not matter how or where. Yet online, the fabric of control over my social universe is more under the influence of the User Terms of Agreement than anything else. Will I lose any part at all of the personal freedoms won by my ancestors when I move my social activities online?

What defines any person by what they do online -- is this a business agreement based on User Terms of Agreement or something more defined by centuries-old social contracts and mores. Does freedom trump user agreements?

When would a concept like human freedom trump any user agreement, even if it is well documented in Delaware courts? Am I free to take my social graph data, that which defines me as me, with me anywhere online because it's an inalienable right? If so, I should not need any OpenSocial standards. It's self-frickin-evident! I should not need it in the User Terms of Agreement because it's long established as precedent.

But here's the rub that came to the surface this week when Microsoft crossed the Rubicon in the Web world with Live Search Cashback.

If users can and will assert that their social graph information is theirs by virtue of their culturally endowed freedom as a human, then what about their "commerce graph?" Who you are but what you buy is not too much different as who you are buy whom you associate with. Is commerce social, or is being social commerce?

My social graph contains my person meta data and my index of contacts, their context to me, and what actually defines me as a social creature. My commerce graph exists too, it's on Amazon,, and dozens of other vendors that know me by how I shop, learn, peruse, compare and perhaps buy. If I search as part of the shopping process then my commerce graph is on Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft (mostly on Google). I do commerce through my social activities, and I may want a social network with those I buy from and sell to.

All this user intentions and activities information is related and should not be separated. I should be able to mix and match my data regardless of the server. I reached those servers through my own device and browser, I made those clicks and punched those keys on my machine before they showed up on someone else's. I own my actions as a free human.

Microsoft is now finding ways to build out a business model via Live Search Cashback (with more to come no doubt) that takes your commerce graph and in essence, sells or barters it to the sellers of goods and services. I'm not saying this is in any way bad, or unproductive. It seems a logical outcome of all that has preceded it online. I expect others to follow suit.

But it does have me wondering. Who owns my commerce graph? Isn't it connected to my social graph? And if Microsoft can make money off of it, why can't I? Can I only make money off of my commerce graph when I use only a certain providers' services and only through its partners? If so, then it's not really my commerce graph. I'm only as free as the User Terms of Agreement say.

If my social graph is mine, and I can move and use it freely, then I surely will want the same to be true for my commerce graph (or any other user pattern graph). This is an essential unalienable right, but I think I want it in writing.

So, please, in order for any of us progeny of Western Civilization to use any of these burgeoning online services, can we have all of this freedom business spelled out clearly in the User Terms of Agreement?

Let's make it the first line item for all online agreements from now on: "Dear User, You are a human and you are free and so that also pertains to everything you do on our Web sites and services."

Until we have technical standards or neutral agencies to route and offer our control over our own use data, then we should all insist on better User Terms of Agreement, those that spell out the obvious. We are free, our data is ours, we should be able to control it.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

ZoomInfo spins off 'bizographic' platform for controlled circulation online advertising play

Business information provider ZoomInfo has spun off its advertising business units in a new company, Bizo, offering a targeted B2B advertising platform, or what it calls "bizographic" advertising.

Privately held and venture-backed ZoomInfo, Waltham, Mass., announced a new set of business segments last fall, but has now taken the additional step of spinning the unit out. Former general manager and senior vice president Russell Glass will serve as CEO of the new company, which is expected to launch later this year. [Disclosure: ZoomInfo has been a sponsor of some BriefingsDirect B2B podcasts and videocasts that I have produced.]

Bizographic advertising, as ZoomInfo explains it, provides highly targeted demographic and behavioral advertising, allowing marketers to target their online advertising based on the audience of a site instead of the content.

For example, if a company wants to reach technology decision makers for an IT product offering or high-income individuals for a platinum credit card offer, it could use bizographic advertising to target directors of IT or CEOs respectively.

The field has heated up recently as CBS intends to acquire CNET (parent company of this blog's host, ZDNet) and it's BNET division, which also slices and dices audiences by work and functional definitions for the benefit of advertising targeting. Could Bizo also be on the block?

According to ZoomInfo officials, Bizo will continue to leverage the company’s understanding of business people and companies to allow marketers to target business users based on thousands of segmenting possibilities, including combinations of title, company, industry, functional area, company size, education, location, etc. The company expects over 20 million targetable business users in its network, when it launches.

Bryan Burdick, ZoomInfo's president explained the move:

"While B2B advertising is complimentary to ZoomInfo’s business, the market has been starved for the ability to target business professionals online. Creating a new business in order to meet that need was an ideal solution for us."

I gave my readers a head's up on what I called "controlled circulation advertising" last December, referring specifically to ZoomInfo:

ZoomInfo is but scratching the surface of what can be an auspicious third (but robust) leg on the B2B web knowledge access stool. By satisfying both seekers and providers of B2B information on business needs, ZoomInfo can generate web page real estate that is sold at the high premiums we used to see in the magazine controlled circulation days. Occupational-based searches for goods, information, insights and ongoing buying activities is creating the new B2B controlled circulation model.

ZoomInfo, a business information search engine, finds information about industries, companies, people, products and services. The company’s semantic search engine continually crawls millions of company Websites, news feeds and other online sources to identify company and people information, which is then organized into profiles.

ZoomInfo currently has profiles on nearly 40 million people and over 4 million companies, and its search engine adds more than 20,000 new profiles every day.

Splunk goes virtual, unveils broad IT search capabilities for Citrix XenServer

Splunk, which provides indexing and search technology for IT infrastructures, this week made its move into the virtual realm with the announcement of Splunk for Citrix XenServer Management.

The San Francisco company says this is just its first foray into search support services for virtualization and that it will release similar applications for each of the leading server virtualization platforms in the near future. [Disclosure: Splunk is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

The Splunk announcement comes during a Citrix cavalcade of news and developments, including the expected delivery of its desktop as a service portfolio.

While server virtualization provides significant efficiency and utilization improvement benefits to datacenters, it also brings complexity in troubleshooting glitches. Performance and capacity issues can arise when applications share the same physical host. With multiple virtual machines (VMs) sharing a pool of server, storage and network resources, changes to any one layer or VM could potentially affect others – and the applications they contain. Root cause analysis is even more of a challenge when instances of virtualized containers and runtimes pop in and out of use via dynamic provisioning.

Splunk indexing and search approach aims to provide a full view of IT-generated use data, not only from the hypervisor and VM, but from the server, guest operating system, applications, and the network. Splunk’s technology indexes data across all tiers of the infrastructure in near real-time. This allows operators and administrators to maintain a large, dynamic IT environment with fewer people, with higher automation and easier service performance management.

Splunk for Server Virtualization Management supports virtualization planning, workload optimization, performance monitoring, root cause analysis and log management, says the company.

The new product is available immediately. Users can download a free 30-day trial from the company's Web site.

Splunk has been in the news lately, and on Monday announced that communications provider BT has agreed to license Splunk's IT search platform technology to build a managed-security product that will allow customers to preserve 100 percent of the logs on a network.

Three weeks ago, the company unveiled Splunk for Change Management, an application to audit and detect configuration and changes, and Splunk for Windows, which indexes all data generated by Windows servers and applications.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

IBM executive defines next generation of enterprise datacenters through cloud computing

IBM Vice President for Enterprise Systems Rich Lechner took the stage at the Forrester Research IT Forum on Tuesday to explore the definition of new enterprise datacenters that will enable new levels of business innovation.

Factors buffeting the definition of the new class of datacenterinclude globalization, a rising tide of information and need for expanded flexibility and adaptability for business models.

To compete, companies need to operate without boarders, and bcome a globally integrated enterprise. "There are huge resource pools emergig around the world ... with new ideas and creativity," said Lechner. It's more than outsourcing, he said, it's about integrating these resources.

The tide of data and devices, of resources, and assets will continue to explode. How can you best use the data that flows all around you?

New business models will evolve, said Lachner. The impact of social networking and peer influences on buying decisions are just beginning to be felt.

Virtualization will remake the landscape IT, as will cloud computing, virtual worlds, and high new levels of scaling when it comes to compute power, said Lechner.

Cloud computing allows an unbounded aspiration of the best user experiences. "It provides anytime, anywhere access to IT resources deliver dynamically as a service," he said. Cloud computing expands capacity almost indefinitely.

IBM's cloud initiatives are allowing technology incubation, data-intense workloads, government-led initiatives and new types of software development support.

IT plus cloud computing can enable change. How to get started? Simplify using virtualization, share infrastructures via SOA, and create a dynamic ability to access data and knowledge, said Lechner.

The world is changing to enterprises without borders, unbounded IT infrastructure, and huge more data sets, and a need for collaboration that increasingly crosses many organizational and sourcing types, he said.

Additionally IBM is learning a lot from Google and vice versa when it comes to cloud computing, said Lechner. Cloud computing allows its practitioners to isolate compute units and make their use far more efficient economically via dynamic provisioning.

For data security, users can physically isolate data using partitioning. IBM for years has been hosting multiple companies on single mainframes with no data protection or privacy issues. The technology exists to leverage the economics of cloud computing while protecting data, said Lechner.

"It's about removing IT has an inhibitor," he said.

Business imperatives theme dominates Forrester's IT Forum conference opener

Forrester Research, the Cambridge, Mass. market research and analysis firm, kicked off its influential IT Forum conference today in Las Vegas with a keynote address by founder and Chairman George Colony on CEO success imperatives.

What the success imperatives do you have? Colony asked a series of CEOs. Here are the seven answers he got:

  • Getting, keeping and building the best people.
  • Engendering collaboration.
  • Reaching global markets.
  • Increasing profit.
  • Building a positive culture.
  • Customers, customers, customers
  • Driving innovation.

What was missing from the list? Colony asked the crowd. Technology ... it didn't make the top imperatives, based on CEO priorities. So to move from IT to business technology, there needs to be more connection between what the IT executives focus on to what the CEO focuses on.

Colony ended his introduction to the event with the pithy conclusion that technology is buried in business imperatives, rather than is an imperative itself.

Then Forrester executives and research directors Mike Gilpin and Eric Brown took to stage to welcome the 1,400 conference goers to the 14th annual IT Forum at the Sands Expo Center. They showed McKinsey research that shows that innovation is essential to companies and their growth.

They define innovation as top down and bottom up inside of companies. The cite the iPhone as an example of this innovation. And they cite Amazon's one-click buying process as another. Also, the one laptop per child intitiative and mobile networks in developing markets signal innovation.

Business innovation needs to pull this all together, say Gilpin and Brown.

Forrester VP and Principal Analyst Bobby Cameron implored the conference crowd not to wait to innovate. Businesses need innovation but IT is disconnected from innovation, Cameron said. Part of the goal of the conference is to rectify this.

"Companies say that technology is transformational, but they invest in technology to improve efficiency or reduce costs," said Cameron, based on his research. "They don't do what they say."

Innovation gets stalled. "Sludge in IT's engine stymies innovation," said Cameron. IT needs to stop hesitating, not just focus on costs, and move beyond "heavy processes" and grow more fleet.

Business innovation needs to transform processes, and boost the value and impact of the business on customers and partners, he said

There is confusion on what leads to innovation, said Cameron. "People aren't asking the right questions," he said, adding that investments are decoupled ineffectively from game-changing ideas.

"The innovation continuum" needs to extend across all aspects of business investments and thought leadership and new ideas. There needs to be a better way to join the two, and to get the money to act on good ideas, said Cameron.

Collaboration networks can help bring inventors and transformers into the innovation continuum, even if they exist outside of the company. IT shops need to play the role of brokers for innovation, he said, and to better play the roles of inventor, transformer, financier (to a lesser extent), and broker.

IT should build out innovation networks to become transformation agents. And these IT departments need to make it clear that they play this role.

It's up to the business to become adept at funding innovation, on an ongoing and sustained basis. Part of securing funding requries innovation context, innovation networks, and a process for ownership of funding, said Cameron. The result should be an "Innovation Pipeline," that has its own funding, is governed by an innovation team, and which takes in ideas generated from anywhere, said Cameron.

This pipeline runs in parallel to regular business activities. This allows for sustained innovation, year after year. More businesses need to become innovation leaders, said Cameron.

How to start? Build an innovation culture, by bringing in the right people. Make innovation part of the process, using portfolio management and analyzing the portfolio to identify where innovation already exists. Technologies also need to be in place to capture innovative ideas.

MokaFive announces general availability of LivePC desktop-as-a-service offering

MokaFive, a desktop virtualization company, has announced the general release of v.10 of its Virtual Desktop Solution, a cross-platform desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) product.

The Redwood City, Calif. company says its DaaS solution is already deployed in nearly 50 pilot programs and has been downloaded over 80,000 times. The virtual desktops, known as LivePCs, run on Windows, Macintosh, and MokaFive's BareMetal Linux operating systems.

I've blogged about MokaFive's DaaS product before and have explained how it operates:

By creating a "Live PC" desktop, which contains the operating system and application stack, and having it hosted by MokaFive, administrators can distribute, manage, and update the desktop from a single copy on the host computer. Users sync their local desktop with the copy in the cloud, allowing them to always be able to access the latest pristine version.

When synced with the Live PC, the desktop is loaded onto the local device, whether a PC or even a flash drive. It then runs as a virtual machine on that device and users can work online or offline. Changes made by administrators are reflected in the local device whenever users connect to the Live PC. By using a flash drive, users can access their desktop on any x86-based machine, having all their productivity tools at their fingertips, but leaving no footprint behind once the flash device is unplugged.

MokaFive Virtual Desktop Solution is available in two versions. MokaFive Professional is for enterprise and workgroup deployments and will be sold via annual subscription. MokaFive Express, designed for home users and developers, is available as a free download. A library of LivePCs, created by MokaFive and the user community, is available at the MokaFive lab.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Panda Security delivers cloud-based security management service for SMBs

IT security provider Panda Security has unveiled its Managed Office Protection solution, a security-as-a-service offering aimed at small and medium businesses (SMBs) as well as large companies with a significant number of geographically dispersed offices.

The service from the Panda keeps the total cost of ownership (TCO) to a minimum by hosting all information in the cloud and providing a Web-based console through which administrators can configure security resources.

The lower cost also comes from the small footprint of the Panda agent on each PC, at about 5 MBs it's much smaller than other malware download agents. More details at Panda's blog.

Administrators can also assign profiles across the organization to adapt security measures to individual and department requirements. The service-based protection is also geared toward SOHO workers, who may just use outsourced IT support and repair shops or consultants.

The managed protection product provides "collective intelligence" that automatically detects, correlates, and responds to malware across a network of PCs. The remote management tools, allow IT managers -- or support shops -- to use any computer on the Internet to change user specifications, track IP addresses, and enable and disable security features.

Using a centralized Web console, administrators can configure updated information to protect against zero-day attacks. Updates are completed via peer-to-peer networks from the nearest desktop, minimizing bandwidth consumptions.

Real-time information about detection activity can be accessed by administrators on the Web console. Administrators can be sent suspected threats to PandaLabs for analysis. Periodic security audits can ensure compliance with such regulations as SOX, PCI, HIPAA, among others. Panda provides an ongoing list of current threats.

Because it's a cloud-based service, it can react in near real-time to Internet hazards as they arise, then jettison the updates as small deltas out to the admins or directly to supported PCs. Naturally, the service only supports Windows, but it goes back as Windows 95 and up to Vista. Panda is looking at Mac OS X and Linux support, but demand has not been there, given Windows propensity as a malware target.

Managed Office Protection is available to value added resellers looking to offer security services to clients. Pricing is in the $40 per user per year range. In a related announcement, Panda said that Tech Data Corp., Clearwater, Fla., has signed an exclusive distribution agreement for the product.

I'd like to see the remote access and remore PC support crowd coordinate better with suppliers like Panda. Any and all PC support shold just include services like this. Already many do, but the SOHO market still needs more convenient approaches at the price point Panda is providing.

Panda Managed Office Protection is available immediate and can be downloaded from the Panda Web site.

Ingres brings OpenROAD tool for rapid DB apps development to GPL

Ingres Corp. is hoping for strong community involvement with its Open ROAD rapid application development (RAD) tool by taking it to GPL v2 release.

The Redwood City, Calif., open source database management company has made the new release available on its Web site and said it expects that more users will try the product and build application prototypes. The 4GL OpenROAD provides tools to build and deploy high-performance and high-availability business applications on a variety of platforms. It supports any RDB.

Tony Baer has some thoughts on the move.

OpenROAD applications are designed to overcome a situation where an organization has decades worth of data and data applications on legacy systems and is unable to unlock these systems to leverage the information in more modern platforms, such as hand-held devices and mobile phones.

Ingres is considering an Eclipse plug in soon, and may work toward deeper Eclipse Foundation relations. The community project around OpenROAD is called Empire.

Ingres is already working with partners to provide contributions. Luminary Solutions has outsourced its ProxyGen and "THUG" productivity tools, which add Java integration and server testing capabilities. Bording A/S has developed and contributed key enhancements to the OpenROAD core runtime library, with more contributions coming down the road.

Ingres has also announced that it is stepping up its involvement in the open-source community with several initiatives to drive validation and adoption of open source. Among these are:

  • University alliances to drive open source innovation with Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada; Ilmenau University in Germany; and Warwick University in the UK.

  • Google Summer of Code, in which students will work with Ingres mentors on a number of projects including the production of Linux and Mac OSX versions of Ingres CAFÉ.
  • Ingres Janitors Project, which provides the opportunity to participate in Ingres development and is a forum for new community members to familiarize themselves with the Ingres code.
  • Open Source Boot Camp, established by Ingres and Carleton University to introduce college students and staff to the concepts and realities of open source.
We've seen lots of tools move toward sunsetting via the open source route, but OpenRoad may have lasting appeal. Developers say it's twice as fast as Java tools for database centric apps. Those apps can be n-tier, or client-server. And MySQL nor Postgres have anything quite like it, so that may drive wider community involvement in the Empire community.

BT licenses Splunk technology to aid in data rentention and compliance monitoring

Communications provider BT has agreed to license IT search platform technology from Splunk to build a managed-security product that will allow customers to preserve 100 percent of the logs on a network. This is designed to satisfy data-retention requirements for compliance mandates.

The search platform from Splunk, San Francisco, will augment London-based BT's existing security monitoring and response services for BT Counterpane, allowing customers to collect, index, and maintain all security data from any application, server, or device.

Traditional log management approaches provide limited support for analyzing new and changing data. BT officials say they chose Splunk because it provides flexibility in dynamic environments and for ongoing compliance with IT data retention requirements.

The BT Counterpane log management solution powered by Splunk will complement managed security monitoring by enabling a fully-indexed, searchable repository of all log activity from any device on the network; provide customers better visibility and control through rich reports and dashboards; and enable thorough security response with real-time search.

Splunk provides large-scale, high-speed indexing and search technology geared toward IT infrastructures. The software, which comes in both free and enterprise versions, allows a company to search and navigate data from any application, server, or network device in real time. [Disclosure: Splunk is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts, including this one on Splunk Base.]

BT operates in 170 countries. Its principal activities include providing local, national and international telecommunications services, higher-value broadband and internet products and services, and converged fixed/mobile products and services. British Telecommunications (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Dynamic documents as two-way end points help bind people and processes to SOA

Read the full paper. Listen to the podcast. Sponsor: JustSystems North America.

Making services oriented architecture (SOA) a fixture across larger swaths of enterprise IT and business processes has grown into a top goal. Finding additional innovation to amplify a SOA's value is therefore always welcome.

A separate but related trend in the field, of implementing managed XML-coupled dynamic documents via authoring and content governance, offers just such a high-impact SOA-enhancing value. Dynamic documents provide end points for SOA-delivered content and data, and deliver it into the formats and often required interfaces people -- meaning workers and managers -- need. Dynamic documents also offer many values around ease of language localization, automation of feed-delivered data, and centralized control over highly decentralized content.

Legions of those in the world that actually get things done -- the line of business personnel that must apply the digital world to the physical world -- are surrounded by documents. Documents, from spreadsheets to maintenance manuals, are the historical means through which people manage information. IT systems use documents to reach beyond their glass screens.

IT has not done away with documents, and it is not likely to. People at the end points of SOA-driven business activities will remain sort of like analog-to-digital converters, as well as digital-to-analog converters. They interface between SOAs and the real world, with documents as a bridge. We all do. And our mainstay interfaces consist mostly of static documents ... but increasingly those will be XML-enabled dynamic documents. How convenient!

That's why I found it fascinating to take on a research project to plumb the depths of how SOA and dynamic documents come together. The conclusion, contained in this report, is that those enterprises that implement dynamic documents capabilities can significantly leverage those investments by flexibly extending their SOA values out to those document end points.

The XML-enabled documents, in turn, can provide on-ramps and gathering points for more content and data to enrich the SOA activities. [Disclosure: The research report was sponsored by JustSystems North America, which is also a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

In other words, the trends around dynamic documents and the trends around SOA complement each other well. Architects and those departmental managers dealing with document overload and the need for better management, therefore, ought to be talking to each other. They may be able to help each other a lot.

Furthermore, the investments that organizations make in SOA can powerfully augment the value and utility of what they can do with dynamic documents authoring, management, and governance. It's also fascinating to consider how SOA-level governance and policies can play a role in how documents use and access -- down to a finely granular level -- can be managed and automated. Think of it as total process management -- from mainframe to everyman.

The result is that in the near future documents will behave a lot more like traditional applications, while traditional applications can behave more like SOA-driven processes. It's us to up to make the connections come around full circle.

Here are some excerpts from the report:
Combining the productivity enhancements of XML-based structured authoring and document management with the increasingly strategic benefits of SOAs is a next logical step. Embracing dynamic documents as SOA endpoints may also spur faster adoption of SOA principles and infrastructure.

If the accumulated business knowledge of individuals could better interface with services-enabled applications, organizations could combine the best of human experience with the new levels of IT interoperability. Any knowledge or semantic asset that can be identified, tagged, and contextually related to business functions should be made available to SOA composite applications as services.

This combination – SOA and easily authored dynamic documents – empowers line-of-business teams to innovate around how information is accessed, combined and presented. It allows organizations to improve the speed and efficiency of manual and disconnected document-centric processes, and to dramatically improve technology and knowledge transfer across lifecycles and value chains.

As XML dynamically updates data and content across myriad traditional documents, user benefits transcend the former static formats. Users can update documents, while their structure allows many others to access current data. Elevating workplace knowledge and data via the familiarity of documents -- and then extending that information across multiple business processes -- that’s what SOA is all about.

Companies with SOA projects should seek out documents as consumable resources – especially dynamic documents -- and then enlist them as resources for business-process benefit. Combined, SOA and user-friendly documents can substantially improve productivity, refine processes, integrate people and processes, as well as accelerate the financial payback from investments in both dynamic document publishing and SOA infrastructure.
Read the full paper. Listen to the podcast. Sponsor: JustSystems North America.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

BriefingsDirect Insights analysts probe future of online advertising and find transactional lucre lurking

Listen to the podcast. Read a full transcript of the podcast.

The future of online advertising captures the headlines and attention when the likes of Microsoft courts the likes of Yahoo! And Wall Street still has a hard time figuring out how much Google is worth, based on just those little text ads next to search results.

But the future of online business has a lot more in store than advertising as we know it. The cloud compute fabrics now being constructed can support a lot more finely tuned matching of buyers and sellers, for consumers and businesses alike.

In the latest BriefingsDirect Insights Edition, Vol. 29, our experts examine the future of online advertising, and how the gathering cloud of services hosts like Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Amazon will fare in the next era. The consensus moves toward an algorithmic meta-data driven future in which the winners will likely be taking a piece of many online transactions. This real-time marketplace can scale up to global mass media, and down to the audience and location of one.

So join us for our latest BriefingsDirect discussion and dissection of software, services, SOA and compute cloud-related news and events, with a panel of IT analysts. In this episode, recorded May 9, 2008, we gather noted IT industry analysts and experts Joe McKendrick, an independent analyst and ZDNet blogger; Tony Baer, principal at OnStrategies and blogger, and Phil Wainewright, independent analyst, director at Procullux Ventures and ZDNet SaaS blogger. This discussion is hosted, produced and moderated by me.

Here are some excerpts:
I really think people have got this completely the wrong way around. To focus on advertising is just so "0.0," to coin a phrase. Advertising exists only because we don't have the Web. Advertising is something the B2B market has to use through magazines, TV shows, or whatever, because they couldn't reach the consumer directly.

Now, the Web enables people to reach potential consumers and business prospects directly, rather than having to go through this advertising. So, the idea that the software industry is going to get funded by advertising has got it completely the wrong way around. Actually, what is going to happen is that business is increasingly going to use software in order to get closer to its consumers and its prospects. It can actually skip having to spend the money on advertising in order to make that connection.

Let me explain how that might work, instead of running adverts on sites that host discussions about bookkeeping services for small companies, for example, or instead of paying for search ads that pop up when people are searching on the Internet for bookkeeping services for small companies. As a small company, if you are using a financial application to run your company and you want some bookkeeping services, a bookkeeping service might pop up as a menu option in the software. You can sign up for and use an outsourced service over the Internet.

Instead of the bookkeeping service actually having to advertise on the search engines, in the publications, the discussion forums, and the social networking sites, they just pay to have their service made available within a software package that relates directly to the service that they are offering.

Therefore, it's not really advertising any more. It's just product placement at a point where the consumer or the business, in this case, actually needs that service.

Now hold on. So, what we were saying is that business activities and consumer activities more and more move online. Not only will we be doing away with the on-premises software business to a significant extent, but we will be doing away with the advertising business to a significant extent. Then, no longer will the entertainment businesses be glossing themselves with adverts to support themselves, but, increasingly, we'll see placement of services in the context of an activity or process, be it for consumer, entertainment, or business, in the same way that we might go to a shopping mall. People pay rent to the mall organizer, which draws people in, to put their wares out on the doorstep in front of the glass pane, in order for people to pick and choose.

So we are moving from an advertising to a placement or even visibility value, and it becomes rent to those who can draw the people in.

I think that there are some indications that the bloom is off the rose of social networking, both as a significant revenue generator, as well as an application development platform, at least for one of the social networks to become a development platform. That's from some recent revenue indicators from Google that its relationship with MySpace has not proven to be as monitizable as they expected.

Some recent statistic show that the types of applications that have been generated on Facebook are very tenuous, very one-off or fun things that would appeal to teenagers, but not with any significant depth or business value. The amount of activity from developers on Facebook has been slacking off, or at least plateauing, which is not a good indicator.

I remember back in the Web 1.0 boom and the dot-com boom, one of the things that was interesting was the discussion sites were very bad at generating ad revenue, because people didn't click on the ads.

The cost per thousand (CPM) for discussion sites, or for the discussion area of a site, was always a lot lower than other types of sites that were more information heavy. So it's old news about kind of sites where people follow what other people are saying.

People start chasing page views without remembering the reason that they are chasing is to generate value for advertises. They think, "We've got lots of page views," but they don't think back to whether those page views are going to deliver value.

Another memo from Ray Ozzie surfaced a couple of weeks back. You may recall the memo back in 2005, the famous "turn the world upside down" memo that talked about the advertising support of the online model for software. He kind of reinforced that with his latest memo.

It wasn't saying, "We must offer software advertising to support software," but it was more of a discussion about the social mesh, the community, the social networking, a paradigm that's emerging.

It's going to be interesting, but I think it's going to leach into the enterprise over the next couple of decades as well. I'm talking years from now, but it's definitely a model that will be sustaining consumer computing. We are seeing that emerging on the social computing side.

You start looking at migration to digital broadcasting. At some point -- I don't know the exact technology mix involved -- combining that with the Internet, there will be some way of micro casting. There may be a large population segment watching a specific program, but you maybe identified in terms of which demographic you specifically are. It's almost sounding 1984-ish.

I think Google actually realizes that and understands that. Therefore what they are aiming to do is get into TV advertising and all these other sectors. These are vendors that enable this kind of personalization of the message, being a conduit between the prospects and the business that's trying to sell to that prospect, and using software automation to enable that.

They are thinking beyond the old model of advertising, and I think that's Microsoft's problem. Microsoft hasn't really understood this, is still thinking about online advertising as a segment, and is not looking beyond the wider opportunity to use the automation on the Web as a way of just bringing buyers and sellers close together.

This requires a tremendous amount of cloud compute to the same levels we have seen in matching search criteria to results and then matching that to advertising. That advertising is then bought through an auction bid process among those seeking the highest placement. So, if we take that same model and apply it to all sorts of different needs and wants of business, personal, entertainment, and luxury across the board, what do we call it? It's not really advertising.

So, we think that advertising is in the rear-view mirror. We're going to move to a new era of something different or better, perhaps subscription as a business model, where you, in a sense, rent digital assets.
Listen to the podcast. Read a full transcript of the podcast.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

HP partners with Desktone to advance virtualized desktops as a service

Desktone, the desktop as a service (DaaS) provider, has lined up a powerful ally in Hewlett-Packard (HP), which has signed on as the first member of Desktone's partner program for desktop virtualization technology.

Desktone announced HP's involvement at the same time it unveiled its service provider partner program designed to enable service providers in the IT hosting, outsourcing and datacom businesses to offer DaaS to their clients. HP's Flexible Computing Services (FCS) will be the first participant. [Disclosure: HP is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

HP, along with ClearCube Technology, also provides physical PC Blade Desktops. In this model, individual "client blade" PCs are used to host multiple independent user sessions, each one running on its own physical PC blade. In this case, it's possible to host as many client PC blades as you have rack space, power and data center space to accommodate, according to Wikipedia.

The Desktone partner program is aimed at service providers already in the hosting or outsourcing business and who want to leverage existing data center assets. Desktone said that partners who sign up in 2008 would have direct input into the company's Virtual-D platform product direction.

While many companies can benefit from virtualizing their desktops, building the infrastructure can be expensive, especially for small and medium-sized businesses. Acquiring the technology as a service, and paying for it as an operating expense can put the technology within the reach of many of those businesses.

For those who may be hazy on the concept of desktop virtualization, ZDNet blogger Dan Kusnetzky gave a short primer back in March on what desktop virtualization is and why you should care:

Desktop virtualization is encapsulating and delivering either access to an entire information system environment or the environment itself to a remote device. This device may be based upon an entirely different hardware architecture than that used by the projected desktop environment. It may also be based upon an entirely different operating system as well.

The Virtual-D Platform enables service providers to offer hosted, subscription-based virtual desktops through a single, automated self-service platform. Enterprises can realize the full benefits of centralized virtual desktops without having to build and deploy the infrastructure internally. The Virtual-D Platform comprises two tiers, enterprise and service provider, which lets enterprises maintain ownership and control over their desktops while outsourcing the physical data center infrastructure powering those virtual desktops.

I saw the vast potential of DaaS nearly a year ago, when Desktone announced a big infusion of venture capital. At the time, I wrote:

The ability to deliver a PC operating environment in a way users are accustomed to via grid/utility efficiencies in a way that appeals to the realities of enterprise IT departments and needs may be a seed that has a long way to grow. But compelling economics and the movement generally to services delivery portends a fast-growing new market segment for home, SMB and large business users. Telcos and cable providers will need to provide these kinds of services, for sure.

Desktone is part of a burgeoning ecology of desktop virtualization providers, including Quest's Provision Networks, Citrix, VMware, WebGlobix and Ericom.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Combined HP-EDS can explore missing methodology around how to offload IT to the cloud(s)

HP's now official pending EDS buy for just shy of $14 billion positions the combined companies to organize and manage the hosted/on-premises mix to maximum efficiency and lowest TCO. It's a great goal to shoot for because all they have to do is beat IBM.

With this merger, the IT/business transformation second-source in the global market is a alive and well. There's always this: The better IBM does, the more need there is for an alternative.

HP with EDS has now clearly staked its future on the top prize in IT: next-generation IT operations efficiency, proper outsourcing methods, cloud computing services management, and high-level consulting as the onramp. This amounts to business transformation via IT transformation via IT multi-sourcing.

Both business and IT need to change, but with a hugely complex migration process in store over the next decade. The end goal is a symbiotic and ultimately fully aligned means to business agility, innovation and holistic change management. [Disclosure: HP is a sponsor of my BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

But there's a missing methodology in this migration process, sort like the "missing link" of how IT and business will evolve from lumbering and reactive gatherers into sharp-stick wielding, proactive hunters and inventors. That missing methodology is a tried and true way to determine -- enterprise by enterprise, unit by unit, department by department -- what elements of IT to offload to clouds and what to embed deeply into the core business as strategic assets. This is the bread and butter of HP and IBM for quite some time.

Most companies and IT strategists now recognize that some portion of what they now do for themselves in IT they ought to offload onto someone else -- or at least provide it as a service via some hybrid underlying support means. The cost efficiencies, utilization rates, flexibility, marketplace-driven productivity aspects of cloud computing are simply too wonderful to ignore. We simply should not have standalone email servers every 60 square yards inside of companies. It's foolish. Same with a lot of other applications. SOA can help use and extend those assets better, but we also need to take a look at offloading them all too.

At the same time that we recognize a milestone shift in how software and services are used and matured inside of businesses, the macro environment is driving the impetus for the same transformation. Perhaps more than ever, businesses need to not only to be efficient and seek to reduce recurring costs -- they need to be able to adapt as quickly as possible, and never stop.

The missing link methodology needs to enable companies to adjust to globalization, raw resources/commodities scarcity, dreadful energy costs, transnational labor use patterns, Internet time, social networks, transaction-driven business models, and massive upheavals in e-commerce, media, transportation, compliance, and the usual vagaries of competing against tough competitors springing up from who knows where next.

Companies clearly need to innovate better, and that innovation must use and leverage technology far better than in the past, and at lower total cost over time. Yet IT departments are not designed (if they ever were designed) to innovate at speed or scale. They are designed to carefully support the crystal and china setting upon the legions of racks, and to prevent any bulls from entering the closet -- lest the whole thing crash, and no fingers to point at the cure. There is a huge disconnect between what IT does and what businesses need to do. It's not IT's fault, it's just the way it's all developed over time ... but it's largely a dead-end.

As a result, total business innovation must seek alternatives to just transforming internal IT capabilities and practices alone. Fortunately they seek these alternatives at just the time when those alternatives are increasingly available and viable. Choice on IT and business services off of the wire is entering a fertile and impressive stage. There will be lots to choose from. Choosing right is a big deal for the next decade.

But how to move best on this momentous opportunity? This is the question that HP-EDS can answer as the driver to their businesses growth. Only through deep, consultative partnership can huge enterprises undertake internal IT transformation while making the essential decisions about what to keep inside, and what to seek as the best services alternatives. At the same time, they need to build and adjust continually the business processes that are supported by these services from many sources. And they must position their abilities with multi-source IT with their current and future business requirements and goals.

HP's services units have been diligent about establishing meta methods that allow for both efficiency improvements, and transformation. HP's software and hardware units have been diligent about business technology optimization (BTO) and high-efficiency/high-availability computing. HP's acquisitions have given it an arsenal through which to operate data centers at peak efficiency and top operational integrity.

Adding EDS to the mix to tackle the definition of and implementation of the missing methodologies to take IT functionally to a multi-source level that actually enables businesses at the strategic level seems a very strong fit indeed.

Monday, May 12, 2008

SOA Software acquires respository and governance vendor LogicLibrary

SOA Software, a provider of governance solutions for services-oriented architecture (SOA), has acquired LogicLibrary, a leading SOA repository and governance vendor.

The acquisition of the Pittsburgh, Pa.-based LogicLibrary by Los Angeles-based SOA Software creates a more comprehensive SOA governance and automation solution, said the companies. The goal is to allow companies to accelerate their full adoption of SOA and rapidly deliver services for distributed and mainframe environments.

The merger underscores not only the SOA vendor consolidation trend (ongoing), but also highlights the market driver of more end-to-end governance and management aspects of SOA deployments. HP and TIBCO also had recent announcements that point up a wide and more automated approach to SOA governance/management.

We're increasingly seeing the means to relate the design time aspects of SOA with the runtime, or operational, aspects. This will no doubt be a big topic at the upcoming IBM Rational Developers Conference.

What's more, I expect to see more of this "total management" approach to SOA coming from the open source SOA infrastructure providers, too. The juxtaposition of SOA and cloud computing and wider use of server virtualization will also drive the need for better total management.

LogicLibrary's technology will extend its integration capabilities across both governed development platforms and governed service platforms. LogicLibrary provides a set of features with reporting and analytics capability focused on SOA development governance. Its products include an enterprise repository providing broad support and governance for development assets/services, along with deep integration and federation with IDEs and application-development point solutions.

The prevalence of services, both internal and external, in enterprise applications now requires companies to have an enterprise-wide SOA governance solution to ensure the integrity of their policies, the companies said. According to Alan Himler, chief executive officer and chairman of LogicLibrary:
“The combination of SOA Software’s governance products, with LogicLibrary’s strategy to provide federation with other leading repositories, creates a single solution that provides unparalleled lifecycle and policy governance across all major platforms.”
A year and a half ago, I blogged about the consolidation trend in SOA governance, and I raised the question of who would be next? While I listed the candidates in what I said was no particular order, SOA Software and LogicLibrary were in the top two spots.
So who’s next in the buy-or-be-bought sweepstakes? Likely candidates (in no particular order) include SOA Software, LogicLibrary, Progress, IBM, Novell, IONA, Red Hat/JBoss, HP, Cape Clear, Mind Reef, Rogue Wave, Cisco, Sybase, TIBCO, BMC, Borland, AmberPoint, Software AG, Composite Software, CA, Above All, Adobe, Oracle, SAP, Sun Microsystems, among others.
There are still some names here that may need dance partners. Fortunately, the music has not stopped yet.

Software AG's Mik0 Matsumura has some more thoughts.

Service Oriented Enterprise also reports on the merger.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Profits-strapped Sun continues decade-long pitch to developers on Java dominance

Leading up the the JavaOne developers conference, Sun Microsystems posted an embarrassing quarterly profit loss, is making OpenSolaris more open than ever, bringing the OpenSolaris platform value to the Amazon Web Services cloud, and is still using variations on the projectile theme to send T-shirts into the international crowd of eager Java developers.

Here in San Francisco on Tuesday, the 12th annual JavaOne developers conference opened, still drawing throngs of the Java devoted. It's clear from the gathering that Java tools, standards, middleware, runtime instances and distributed computing methods still dominate the non-Microsoft enterprise IT landscape.

Even as many other innovations over the past decade have encroached on and often out-delivered on the "write once, run anywhere" mantra, Java has done great things for the ability to develop and deploy complex, mission critical applications that leverage assets and resources across multiple tiers of computing. The n-tier computing model based on standards of interoperability is alive and well.

Java continues to play a binding role among hundreds of the most impactful IT vendors and their products -- from IBM to Oracle to SAP to developer consultancies of one busy person. Yet the arenas in which Java, now an open source reference model stack, dominates has is limits. Java's role in the future growth areas of Internet and mobile computing may well be as a foundational but necessary pivotal component.

The growing arenas of SOA, Web 2.0, cloud computing, webby applications design/delivery, OSGi container flexibility, PHP, Ruby on Rails, Adobe and Silverlight RIA/cross-browser development/deployment -- all are moving beyond the Java orbit.

At the same time, Sun has aligned itself to Java so much it recently changed its stock ticker to JAVA. Sun certainly helped create the Java community and value -- with a lot of help -- but then also alienated many Java contributors and market drivers as Sun sought to dominate Java and to mashup Java's success onto Sun.

So far, some 13 years in, Java remains consistently more successful than Sun.

And there was plenty more evidence at this year's show of the always-interesting relationship between Sun and Java. Sun's Executive Vice President for Software Rich Green, in his keynote, said that the Amazon's Kindle device is powered by Java, even the store that the content is bought from, uses Java. And we were given a demo of Kindle's prowess by Ian Freed, vice president of Kindle at Amazon.

Interesting to note that neither the device, nor the cloud services supporting the Kindle's content sales and syndication, comes from Sun as a business. But the software was developed on Java. So, Java=1.0, Sun=0.1.

Rikko Sakaguchi, senior vice president of Sony Ericsson, showed some neat mobile handset devices running cool video and media. Java's role is core to the handset and content and applications. Java helps make the software run on the device, and encourages partners to develop content and apps. "Java powers the device," said Green. But again Java and Sony Ericsson=1.0, Sun=0.1.

We were also showed a demo of a Facebook widget, Connected Life, that at first crashed, perhaps due to Moscone Center's Internet connectivity. But then it came back up. The widget was written in JavaFX, a Sun scripting language and runtime. The demo showed that the widget can run in a browser or as a rich Internet application using Java runtime, but that crashed too. And the widget can run on mobile devices too.

JavaFX also allows for video to run, 2D and 3D. There was some nice eye candy, but nothing you can't get with Adobe AIR/Open Screen, Silverlight, or QuickTime, among other RIA approaches.

So Java still helps "write once, run anywhere." Facebook and widget writers with Java=1.0, Sun=0.4 (if it sells the tools and licenses the Java runtime, and perhaps sells some servers to Facebook).

JavaFX Mobile will be forthcoming (spring 2009)to allow one runtime across the mobile and desktop tiers (fall 2008), said Green. A demo showed a mobile device running the Android emulator running Connected Life. Showing that JavaFX-written applications runs in many places, including mobile phones supporting Java.

Sun took some heat last year when it introduced JavaFX, but the "create-once, present anywhere" value is clearly a priority for Sun, as well as for Adobe, Microsoft and others. Sun will try and leverage the Java runtime installed base to be a player in this market, but it will be a real tussle given the competition

Glassfish kernal container at 98 kB will also support a wide swath of device types, said Green. He said Glassfish downloads are robust and global. Recent MySQL addition to Sun is getting 65,000 downloads per day, said Green.

NetBeans ecosystem is growing year over year by 44 percent, based on active users, said Green. And Java ships in the prominent Linux distributions, including Ubuntu and Red Hat, he said.

Sun's Project Hydrazine offers a platform for mashable services in the cloud, for "find, merge, deploy and share," said Green. It's due in later 2009. Another project, Project Insight, involves managing actions of users and data for ad placement.

Sounds like Sun is building an ad delivery platform, or at least to manage the meta data that supports ad placements. So Sun is competing with Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo! on ad infrastructure?

Sun CEO and President Jonathan Schwartz said battle is brewing for development platform for next generations of devices. "No matter where they are, Java will reach them," said Schwartz.

He likes the idea that apps running in a browser can be dragged off of the browser by the end user and onto the desktop of devicetop, thanks to Java on the device.

"And it will all be free," said Schwartz. So again, Java=1.0, Sun=0.x.

Neil Young joined the Sun executives on stage. Neil likes Blue-ray, and plans to deliver a multimedia anthology content offering via Blu-ray from his illustrious and prolific 45-year career.

"Just recently we've been able to bring this forward, ... it's really quite an experience," said Young, referring to using Blu-ray and Java, over past technologies, including DVDs.

And Java runs on Blu-ray devices! So Java+Neil Young=1.0, Sun=0.x.

Sun continues to try and define x as a major means to drive its future growth and profits. Let's hope that the past is not prologue on that account.

JustSystems boosts acceptance of XBRL with donation of intellectual property rights

JustSystems said Monday that it is contributing its intellectual property rights for its invention of extensible business reporting language (XBRL) to XBRL International, the standards body responsible for overseeing the language's specification.

JustSystems is making the move as part of its campaign to help organizations adopt XBRL, the XML -based standard for communicating business and financial information. The company made the announcement at XBRL International Conference in Eindhoven, Netherlands.

Under the terms of this contribution, JustSystems will not assert patent rights to the XBRL formatting linkbase, although the company will maintain invention rights. The developer community will be able to freely apply intellectual property and all documentation.

The XBRL formatting linkbase provides a standards-based method for defining how XBRL data — which is complex and largely unreadable by people — is rendered to documents, web pages, wireless devices and other applications. By mapping data elements to specific formatting conventions, the formatting linkbase helps organizations to ensure the consistent display of XBRL data across multiple output formats and delivery channels.

Jake Sorofman, senior vice president of marketing and business development for JustSystems, said in a press release:

“Now that XBRL has matured and regulators such as the U.S. SEC are gearing up for a mandate, organizations must take aggressive action to understand the implications and applications of XBRL within their domain. With XBRL momentum building, our campaign is designed to help organizations jumpstart their XBRL initiatives and stay ahead of the curve.”

I recently produced a podcast with Sorofman, in which we discussed the importance and future of structured documents and authoring tools. You can listen to the podcast here, and read the transcript here. [Disclosure: JustSystems is a sponsor of BriefingDirect podcasts.]

Genuitec marks progress with two milestone releases of MyEclipse 6.5 products

Genuitec, the MyEclipse IDE vendor, has marked development progress with two interim releases. The Flower Mound, Tex., firm has announced availability of the initial milestone releases of MyEclipse Enterprise Workbench 6.5 and MyEclipse 6.5 Blue Edition, a tool suite for WebSphere developers.

The Enterprise Workbench release includes an upgrade of MyEclipse Spring tools, which provides integration of the latest Spring framework 2.5 libraries. Also in the release are:

  • JAX-WS 2.1 Web services
  • Support for JSR-168 portlets
  • Improved JSF and Facelet visual page design and coding features
  • New web.xml editor; and
  • Updated ICEFaces JSF component support.

The M1 release of the Blue Edition offers project migration support from IBM Rational Application Developer and WebSphere Application Developer into MyEclipse.

With the new release, developers can configure, launch, and manage multiple WebSphere profiles simultaneously from within the IDE, allowing the developers to develop, deploy, and debug enterprise Java applications to any number of customized WebSphere profiles.

In another announcement, Genuitec has released the Pulse 2.1, which allows users to manage and configure Eclipse-based products. Among the product enhancements in this release are:

  • Desktop Express, which allows ISVs to deliver software to their customers
  • Enhancements to Pulse Freelance, which allows users to add and share plug-ins to customize their catalog and share workspace settings.

Last February, I did a podcast with Maher Masri, president of Genuitec on his companies Eclipse-based tools and the migration path to WebSphere. You can read the transcript here. [Disclosure: Genuitec is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

Last January, I wrote about the Pulse product and its implications for the development and deployment market:

I also expect that Genuitec will move aggressively into “development and deployment as a service” offerings in 2008. There’s no reason why a Pulse set of services could not evolve into a general platform for myriad developer resources and increasingly tools/IDEs as a service. Indeed, Genuitec is finding wider acceptance by developers of developing and deploying in the cloud concepts and benefits.

The milestone release of Workbench 6.5 is currently available from the MyEclipse site for a free trial. The milestone release of Blue Edition is available for a free trial from the Blue Edition site. The subscription price is $149, and those with current subscriptions will receive all upgrades and support at no additional cost. The general release of both products is scheduled for June of this year.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

What MicroNoHoo means for enterprises

Now that Yahoo gets to remain a stand-alone company for a few more months, you may think that a battle royale between Microsoft and Google over the online advertising and social networking/communications services future has little bearing on enterprises. But you'd be wrong.

Here are seven reasons why:
  • As we discussed Saturday on an emergency Gillmor Gang, this cloud wars business is largely about audience size, reach, and details on consumer needs/preferences. This audience intelligence value can be sold to advertisers, but also to enterprises, retailers and marketers as they seek to deliver their brands, goods and services more efficiently to users/buyers everywhere, every digital way. The cloud compute-based, automated, bid-auction-driven, buyer-seller matchmaker powerhouses will be necessary partners for most enterprises. In other words, you will be doing business with the top one or two cloud leaders.
  • Nearly all enterprises and SMBs will continue to have large Microsoft product footprints in their organizations for at least several years. You want such a critical supplier to remain focused and fiscally healthy and to invest in current and future products -- or you have a Microsoft extraction problem. If Microsoft goes tits-up online, it will be a weaker company and therefore a weaker supplier. If Microsoft needs to spend lavishly on labor, acquisitions, technology and marketing to get to number one or number two online, it will be distracted from its business-focused businesses. In other words, enterprises spending on Microsoft now subsidize Microsoft's future needs to go cloud-strong, and perhaps enterprise software soft. You'll need to pay Microsoft on premises now so that you can pay Microsoft online later.
  • As a hedge on the future, Microsoft is creating online strategy sets that can satisfy consumer online markets while also bringing purely online and "software plus services" hybrid services to SMBs and enterprises. How well these services compete with other offerings from other cloud-based services providers will determine how well these services perform for you as a company. In other words, your future in leveraging Microsoft's path from on-premises software provider to services provider hinges on how well Microsoft does online, which depends on audience and advertising/services (see no. 1). It will at some point behoove Microsoft to push you to its online business services, probably by making on-premises stuff expensive. But you will have more choice over your online suppliers than your did on your PC and department server supplier.
  • An emboldened and stronger Google, resulting from a hobbled Yahoo and a runner-up Microsoft, means that more partners and applications will emerge around the Google ecology. We'll see more deals with Google from, IBM, Apple, mobile handset providers, mobile Internet device makers, and probably the major media companies (lacking a choice). This just makes Google stronger, more diversified, able to spend $1 billion per quarter on capital investments, able to woo the best engineers, and a darling of online start-ups and entrepreneurial developers and content creators. This means Google is not only a channel for enterprises to reach consumers, it increasingly becomes the provider or channel for more and more business services to more types of businesses in more global locations.
  • Microsoft is becoming more open. In order to catch up to Google and other ad-driven cloud compute-based providers, probably without Yahoo's audience clout, Microsoft will need to become even more open on standards. That's good news for enterprises. Microsoft is loosening up its strangle-hold on enterprises through its self-imposed standards. More importantly, Microsoft is giving its developers more choice. This is a slippery slope, because at some point Microsoft gets so open that the stickiness and lock-ins lessen so that the Windows runtime (and associated license sales) can be swapped out for open source or virtualized runtimes. Developers can pick and choose what Microsoft stuff they want to use, and then seek cheaper alternatives. To seduce developers and start-ups from Google, Microsoft must continue to get open in more ways, aiding the open source evolution and maturity, and giving enterprise more choices and lower total IT costs.
  • Requirements on the PC change and shift. As Google and Yahoo drag Microsoft into a more pure-Web-play, and seek to offer attractive online alternatives to "software plus services," enterprises can re-evaluate their hardware spend and requirements on the desktop. Apple will also offer compelling alternatives for the full Windows PC experience. So enterprises, already resisting the hardware upgrade costs and help desk hit from moving to Vista, may benefit from Microsoft's need to "go Webby" because their hardware requirements will amount to supporting a browser mostly, at least for some users like call centers. This also opens up the market for use of more thin clients, as well as more use of desktop-as-a-service and virtualized app delivery services. Dumb terminals are not dumb if you need to pay for them and support them. By backing off of client-server, Microsoft will cut your PC device total costs. And no more audit threats!
  • Microsoft's stock performance in the cloud era will depend less on its business revenues and more on how well it competes against Google, Yahoo et al. In the post Yahoo acquisition saga (volume 1), Microsoft may well see its value as a corporation decrease, even as recessionary pressures build against growth rates for its consumer and business product lines. Microsoft could have fewer resources to devote to its enterprise businesses (see above). At the same time, IBM, Oracle, Red Hat, and HP are firing well on their enterprise business cylinders, and they may see Microsoft blood in the enterprise sales waters. As an enterprise buyer, ask now and for the foreseeable for discounts and better terms from those enterprise vendors that compete directly with Microsoft. Microsoft's sales reps may not be able to respond like they used to. Microsoft's enterprise competitors will seek to take some oxygen from the field in the next several quarters. This is good news for enterprises, and SMBs.
So there are a number of reasons for enterprises and IT departments to be aware of and concerned about what goes on between Microsoft and Yahoo, and -- most importantly -- Microsoft and Google.