Friday, August 13, 2010

Google needs to know: What does Oracle really want with Android?

The bombshell that Oracle is suing Google over Java intellectual property in mobile platform powerhouse Android came as a surprise, but in hindsight it shouldn't have.

We must look at the world through the lens that all guns are pointed at Google, and that means that any means to temper its interests and blunt it's potential influence are in play and will be used.

By going for Google's second of only two fiscal jugular veins in Android (the other being paid search ads), Oracle has mightily disrupted the entire mobile world -- and potentially the full computing client market. By asking for an injunction against Android based on Java patent and copyright violations, Oracle has caused a huge and immediate customer, carrier and handset channel storm for Google. Talk about FUD!

Could Oracle extend its injunctions requests to handset makers and more disruptively for mobile carriers, developers, or even end users? Don't know, but the uncertainty means a ticking bomb for the entire Android community. Oracle's suits therefore can't linger. Time is on Oracle's side right now. Even Google counter-suing does not stop the market pain and uncertainty from escalating.

We saw how that pain works when RIM suffered intellectual property claims again its Blackberries, when RIM was up against a court-ordered injunction wall. Fair or not, right or not, they had to settle and pay to keep the product and their market cap in the right motion. And speed was essential because investors are watching, wondering, worrying. Indeed, RIM should have caved sooner. That's the market-driven, short-term "time is not on our side" of Google's dilemma with Oracle's Java.

When Microsoft had to settle with Sun Microsystems over similar Java purity and license complaints a decade back, it was a long and drawn out affair, but the legal tide seemed to be turning against Microsoft. So Microsoft settled. That's the legal-driven, long-term "time is not on our side" of Google's dilemma with Oracle's Java.

Google is clearly in a tough spot. And so we need to know: What does Oracle really want with Android?

Not about the money

RIM's aggressors wanted money and got it. Sun also needed money (snarky smugness aside) too, and so took the loot from Microsoft and made it through yet another fiscal quarter. But Oracle doesn't need the money. Oracle will want quite something else in order for the legal Java cloud over Android to go away.

Oracle will probably want a piece of the action. But will Oracle be an Android spoiler ... and just work to sabotage Android for license fees as HP's WebOS and Apple's iOS and Microsoft's mobile efforts continue to gain in the next huge global computing market, that is for mobile and thin PC clients?

Or, will Oracle instead fall deeply, compulsively in love with Android ... Sort of a Phantom of the Opera (you can see Larry with the little mask already, no?), swooping down on the sweet music Google has been making with Android, intent on making that music its own, controlled from its own nether chambers, albeit with a darker enterprise pitch and tone. Bring in heavy organ music, please.

Chances are that Oracle covets Android, believes its teachings through Java technology (the angel of class libraries) entitles it to a significant if not controlling interest, and will hold dear Christine ... err, Android, hostage unless the opera goes on the way Oracle wants it to (with license payments all along the way). Bring in organ music again, please.

Trouble is, this phantom will not let his love interest be swept safely back into the arms of Verizon, HTC, Motorola and Samsung. Google will probably have to find a way make to make music with Oracle on Android for a long time. And they will need to do the deal quickly and quietly, just like and Microsoft recently did.

What, me worry?

How did Google let this happen? It's not just a talented young girl dreaming of nightly rose-strewn encores, is it?

Google's mistake is it has acted like a runaway dog in a nighttime meat factory, with it fangs into everything but with very little fully ingested (apologies to Steve Mills for usurping his analogy). In stepping on every conceivable competitors' (and partners') toes with hubristic zeal -- yet only having solid success and market domination in a very few areas -- Google has made itself vulnerable with its newest and extremely important success with Android.

Did Google do all the legal blocking and tackling? Maybe it was a beta legal review? Did the Oracle buy of Sun catch it off-guard? Will that matter when market perceptions and disruption are the real leverage? And who are Google's friends now when it needs them? They are probably enjoying the opera from the 5th box.

Android is clearly Google's next new big business, with prospects of app stores, and legions of devoted developers, myriad partners on the software and devices side, globally pervasive channels though the mobile carriers, and the potential to extend same into the tablets and even "fit" PCs arena. Wow, sounds a lot like what Java could have been, what iOS is, and what WebOS wants to be.

And so this tragic and ironic double-cross -- Java coming back to stab Google in the heart -- delivers like an aria, one that is sweet music mostly to HP, Apple, and Microsoft. [Disclosure: HP is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

[UPDATE: The stakes may spread far beyond the mobile market into the very future of Java. Or so says Forrester analyst Jeffrey Hammond, who argues that, in light of Oracle’s plans to sue Google over Android, “…this lawsuit casts the die on Java’s future."

"Java will be a slow-evolving legacy technology. Oracle’s lawsuit links deep innovation in Java with license fees. That will kill deep innovation in Java by anyone outside of Oracle or startups hoping to sell out to Oracle. Software innovation just doesn’t do well in the kind of environment Oracle just created," said Hammond.]

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Metastorm seeks to accelerate the strategic socialization of the enterprise for process improvement

Metastorm, the business process management (BPM) software provider that recently released two cloud-based business collaboration products, is betting on what it calls the "socialization of the enterprise."

We're seeing more social media techniques and approaches entering the enterprise, from's Chatter to the forthcoming beta of HP's 48Upper. The trend is undeniable. A recent Trend Micro survey reveals social media use in the workplace has risen from 19 percent to 24 percent in the last two years.

Strategies to resist the socialization of the enterprise may be futile. So Metastorm is suggesting enterprises embrace it, using tools that foster rather than squash social productivity in the workplace.

Knowing that these technologies exist, there is this effort to figure out how to adapt this for a distributed business environment to increase the productivity and effectiveness of employees.

Part of that process is moving away from standalone products like Yammer and Socialtext and integrating social capabilities, profiles and collaboration with a richer enterprise experience, according to Laura Mooney, vice president of corporate communications at Metastorm, maker of Smart Business Workspace, a rich internet application that aims to empower knowledge workers to become more engaged and productive.

BriefingsDirect caught up with Mooney to discuss the issues around social enterprises.

BriefingsDirect: What’s your perspective on the business trend toward social enterprises?

Mooney: Companies don’t necessarily want to move away from stand-alone tools, but stand-alone tools are not necessarily well-integrated into the day-to-day operations and activities that employees are engaged in from a decision-making perspective.

As people got used to the instant ability to collaborate in their social life with using social networking capabilities, we discovered they wanted that same experience in the office environment in a way that would add business value. By tying social capabilities into the BPM foundation their work is already running on, employees can initiate that collaboration where it makes sense.

Metastorm focus on helping organizations, the people within the company, map out their strategy, understand the way different components of their business inter-operate and overlap, and then automate and execute business processes and try to improve these business processes on a day-to-day basis.

BriefingsDirect: Do tools like Facebook have a place in the enterprise from a productivity perspective?

Mooney: At work, Facebook is really not applicable to what I’m doing. But within this business process modeling tool, I have the ability to invite people that I can see online to participate in a process review session online, so we can all look at the same model and we can annotate, draw on it, and share it and get feedback. In that way, this is very meaningful to my day-to-day job.

Rather than getting on the phone or scheduling a conference call, trying to create a WebEx, and then trying to keep track of what it was we talked about, all of that would be captured.

It becomes useful also for audit purposes because a lot of companies can’t just change core business processes without some sort of audit trail. Having that audit ability is important from a business perspective versus random social networking. Social media is not necessarily trackable.

BriefingsDirect: Do you have any insight into the customer demand that’s sort of driving these traditional software vendors to play in the enterprise to the other world?

Mooney: It has to do with companies being so virtualized these days, especially the large organizations. Not only do they have multiple offices in different locations and most likely different countries, but there’s a shift toward telecommuting so everyone is not necessarily in the office at the same time. Knowing that these technologies exist, there is this effort to figure out how to adapt this for a distributed business environment to increase the productivity and effectiveness of employees.
BriefingsDirect contributor Jennifer LeClaire provided editorial assistance and research on this post. She can be reached at and
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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

CollabNet rolls out trio of cloud ALM offerings with focus on Agile and governance benefits

In an aggressive move to drive Agile software deeper into the enterprise, CollabNet rolled out a trio of new offerings today at the Agile 2010 Conference.

CollabNet introduced version 5.4 of the CollabNet TeamForge application lifecycle management (ALM) platform, a TeamForge licensing option, and CollabNet Subversion Edge 1.1. Together with the recently released CollabNet TeamForge to ScrumWorks Pro Integration, the company is promising enterprises more flexibility to adopt Agile software development methods in the cloud.

“The products we’re introducing today enable organizations of any size, with developers located anywhere around the world, to realize breakthrough governance and innovation benefits while adopting Agile development methods at a pace that suits their business cycles, technical objectives, and team requirements,” says CollabNet CEO Bill Portelli.

Flagship product enhancements

Portelli says the tools and processes -- using any development methodology and technology -- can boost productivity by up to 50 percent and reduce the cost of software development by 80 percent.

Part of the promise depends on the latest version of CollabNet’s flagship product, the TeamForge ALM Platform. Version 5.4 is optimized for Agile teams and continuous integration. Some of the new features include dynamic planning improvements, such as drag-and-drop sequencing of backlog items and direct links between planning folders and file releases. The company says this makes it easier to implement Agile projects.

The products we’re introducing today enable organizations of any size, with developers located anywhere around the world, to realize breakthrough governance and innovation benefits.

TeamForge ALM version 5.4 also offers new personalization features that let users manipulate data in ways that best suit their needs and save their settings as their default view. And reporting enhancements, like the ability to embed dynamic charts directly within project pages, aim to make it easier to see release status at a glance.

CollabNet TeamForge ALM is $4,995 for the first 25 users and $749 per additional user, per year.

New licensing option

CollabNet also offers more flexibility with a TeamForge SCM licensing option. The new option promises the collaboration, enterprise-wide governance, and centralized management capabilities of the TeamForge platform to organizations that use Subversion for source code management.

According to the company, the new licensing option saves money for organizations that don’t need features like artifact tracking, task management, and document sharing. The new licensing option also adds centralized role-based access control, project workspaces, tools like wikis and discussion forums, and the secure delegation of repository administration to project teams. CollabNet TeamForge SCM is $2,995 for the first 25 users and $289 per additional user, per year.

Finally, CollabNet Subversion Edge is coming out of beta as a free, open-source download. Subversion Edge is certified stack that combines Subversion, the Apache Web server, and ViewVC with a Web-based management interface works to streamline installation, administration, use, and governance of the entire software stack. Subversion Edge also offers an auto-update feature.
BriefingsDirect contributor Jennifer LeClaire provided editorial assistance and research on this post. She can be reached at and
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