Friday, July 18, 2008

WSO2 adds data services and security features in Mashup Server 1.5

Open-source SOA provider WSO2 Monday will unveil version 1.5 of its WSO2 Mashup Server, which allows enterprises to consume, aggregate, and publish information in a variety of forms and from a variety of sources.

The latest version from the Mountain View, Calif., and Sri Lanka company adds WSO2 Data Services and security features for enterprise-class service composition. Mashup Server 1.5 is built on the WSO2 Web Services Application Server based on Apache/Axis 2. It can be used as an individual service development and deployment tool or can scale up to support team, enterprise, or Internet communities. [Disclosure: WSO2 has been a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

The original mashup server debuted in January of this year. Key features of the new version include:
  • Integrated WSO2 Data Services, providing mashup-ready Web service interfaces to relational databases and other data sources such as Excel spreadsheets, and comma-separated values (CSVs).

  • An integrated user interface (UI) for easily managing secured mashup services based on WS-Security. Users can choose among some 20 popular enterprise scenarios providing various types and combinations of authentication, encryption, and signing.

  • Application programming interface (API) and configuration extensions, facilitating the consumption of secured services based on WS-Security—from enabling communications between secured services to defining who is allowed to access a service and in what ways.

  • User login using OpenID, which complements existing login options based on username/password and Microsoft InfoCard-based electronic IDs.

  • Google Gadget support, offering stubs, templates, and try-it pages for Google Gadgets that can be hosted within the WSO2 Mashup Server or externally, such as in a user’s iGoogle page. It also includes a beta dashboard add-in for hosting Google Gadgets within the mashup server itself.
Version 1.5 will be available for download Monday. It carries no software licensing or subscription fees, although WSO2 offers a range of service and support options, including training, consulting, and custom development.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

DaaS solves schools' Internet parity problem with help from IBM and Desktone

The Pike County, Ky., schools have solved an Internet access parity problem with a desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) solution from IBM and Desktone. As part of a five-year agreement, IBM will provide the county's classrooms with service that gives older PCs the same Internet ability as newer models.

Not unlike many companies, the county's 25 schools purchased and replaced computer equipment on a staggered basis, meaning some classrooms had computers that were over six years old, while other classrooms had spanking-new models. This created an inequality among students that school officials felt was unacceptable.

Under the agreement with IBM, and using the Desktone DaaS software, the schools' 1,400 Internet-enabled computers will have access to the district's standard desktop image, regardless of the age of the device or whether it's a PC or a thin client. The hosted architecture will also include IBM storage, xSeries servers, and VMware software.

An added benefit of the solutions is that homebound students will be able to keep up with their coursework using home computers, and teachers who need to work from home will have access to their materials with the same security and filtering as if they were in the classroom.

Desktone burst on the scene a year ago, when it announced an infusion of venture capital funds. Since then, it's continued to make news, most recently when it announced that HP has signed on as the first member of its partner program.

The broad affection for the term "cloud computing" and all that sticks to that nowadays will mean broad affection too for desktop as a service. Desktone has its sights set on helping service providers ramp up DaaS offerings, but enterprises will be in this one too. Citrix, VMware and Microsoft will make sure they allow enterprises to do DaaS as well as the cloud providers.

I'd bank on a rich environment where a continuum of offerings develop, with myriad business models and packages of services. Most interesting will be whether the DaaS providers can mimick the traditional desktop providers as a channel for ... apps, services, ads, (craplets!), business services, as well as maintenance and support.

Hey, if it worked for the hairball, why not the cloud ball?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Serena Software brings business mashups to mainframe application release process

"Mainframe" and "Web 2.0" aren't used together very often. Serena Software, Redwood City, Calif., hopes to change that with the release of its Serena Application Release Manager (ARM), a mashup aimed at the application release process.

ARM combines Web-2.0-type workflow capabilities with Serena's ChangeMan ZMF, a software change and configuration management application for mainframes. This is designed to allow companies to manage the application release process from initial change requests through to final deployment, and is part of Serena's goal to be a leading provider of software for application lifecycle management (ALM) services.

Included in the release is a visual process designer with out-of-the-box process templates that can be customized, allowing stakeholders -- developers, IT operations teams, and business users -- to coordinate their activities. Participants can use any Web-based device to track and approve projects.

This doesn't come without cost, as Rene Bonvanie, Serena's vice president of worldwide marketing, partner programs, and online services, told eWeek's Darryl Taft:
This mashup is not a free mashup. There is a lot of labor you can replace with this mashup. Since there are fewer release engineers, developers are stepping in to solve the problem.
Bill Ives at AppGap has a good take on why this development is important:
There are many large companies that still generate an extensive number of mainframe applications. One of their clients created 484,000 new mainframe apps in the past year. The number of IT people who can sit and stare at mainframe green screens is getting smaller. Now users can monitor and communicate through a browser-based system that is more familiar to the current generation of IT people.
Serena jumped into the mashup world just a little under a year ago. At the time, I said I thought they were "taking a walk on the wild services side," but I saw great hope for their approach. Just last month, Serena made news again when it released its Mashup Composer service, which allows users to drag and drop a wide variety of consumer information and combine it with data from internal applications.

The new release joins a wide array of other business mashups from Serena. All are available at the Serena Mashup Exchange.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Amazon helps boost Engine Yard's cloud computing efforts with capital infusion

Engine Yard, which provides a cloud-based Ruby and Rails deployment platform, has completed a second round of financing, including a chunk from cloud-computing heavy hitter Amazon.

The San Francisco-based company today announced an additional $15 million in funding, following a $3.5-million injection in January of this year. Helping to provide the financing were New Enterprise Associates, Inc. (NEA), Amazon, and current investor Benchmark Capital.

Engine Yard officials say the new funding will help the company accelerate business, spur R&D for their forthcoming cloud-computing cluster platform, and continue their innovation with their open-source projects, Rubinius and Merb.

Rubinius, a project to develop the next generation virtual machine for the Ruby programming language, implements the core libraries in Ruby, making a system accessible for development and extension. Merb is a light framework that is ORM, JavaScript library, and template language agnostic.

Engine Yard, founded in 2006, offers a deployment platform with fully managed services. This platform combines high-end clustering resources to run Ruby and Rails applications in the cloud.

Amazon has been offering cloud-based services for more than two years, and their participation bodes well for Engine Yard's position in the forefront of two emerging markets -- Ruby and Rails and cloud computing.

Borland Management Solution offers visibility into software lifecycle delivery and refinement

In an effort to shine more light on the traditionally "dark art" of software development, Borland Software today announced Borland Management Solutions (BMS). The three-pronged, leverages Borland's Open Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) framework, and is designed to enable users to better orchestrate, measure, predict, and improve the software delivery organizations.

BMS, according to the Austin, Tex. company, plugs into a customer's existing ALM tooling infrastructure and provides what Borland calls a "cockpit" to give visibility and control over the entire application lifecycle.

Many companies are still hampered by the fact that, while they've made investments in some ALM tools, the processes still exist in silos, making it difficult to treat application delivery like any other business process, with end-to-end visibility, metrics and intelligence.

BMS includes three products:
  • TeamDemand, a business stakeholder’s “window” into IT, providing a view into all demand coming into the delivery organization. Business users can see, understand and collaborate with IT to make informed decisions about how IT is handling their needs. TeamDemand links directly with such ALM artifacts as requirements, user stories and tasks – housed in various existing tool repositories.

  • TeamFocus, an enterprise project management and execution environment that supports multiple delivery methods – agile, waterfall, iterative – and rolls up monitored project progress information across the portfolio of projects. TeamFocus is designed to keep management up to date without sacrificing production work for reporting overhead.

  • TeamAnalytics automatically collects and analyzes current and historic data from a broad set of ALM tools. It includes a configurable set of interactive dashboards – customizable by role – that present a broad set of industry standard ALM metrics to help management build predictable delivery models and communicate progress to business stakeholders.
Borland introduced its Open ALM in January of last year. The following April, I moderated a sponsored podcast with Carey Schwaber, a senior analyst at Forrester Research; Brian Kilcourse, CEO of the Retail Systems Alert Group and former SVP and CIO of Longs Drug Stores, and Marc Brown, vice president of product marketing at Borland. At the time, Brown explained the reasoning behind the push for ALM tools. [Disclosure: Borland is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

"If you look at most businesses today, IT organizations are expected to have very managed processes for their supply-chain systems and for their human resources systems, but when it comes to software delivery or software development, as you mentioned, there is this sense that software is some sort of an art.

"We would really like to demystify this and put some rigor to the process that individuals and organizations leverage and use around software delivery. This will allow organizations to get the same predictability when they are doing software as when they are doing the other aspects of the IT organization. So, our focus is really about helping organizations improve the way they do software, leveraging some core solution areas and processes -- but also providing more holistic insight of what’s going on inside of the application lifecycle."

You can listen to the podcast here and read a full transcript here.

The BMS suite is expected to be generally available in the Fall. More information is available from the Borland Web site.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Progress Software continues SOA buying spree with Mindreef acquisiton

Progress Software has followed its acquisition of IONA Technologies earlier this week with another acquisition, this time picking up privately held Mindreef, Inc., the Hollis., NH maker of the SOAPscope product family.

SOAPscope's quality and validation tools should dovetail with Progress' quality of service (QoS) emphasis quite well. Can't poke around for overlaps or redundancies on this one. Seems a clear addition to the burgeoning Progress solution set.

Included in the SOAPscope family are SOAPscope Server, SOAPscope Architect, and SOAPscope Developer, all of which will join the Progress Actional SOA Management product family. This combination of Actional and Mindreef service-oriented architecture (SOA) governance products provides visibility, control, and validation both across the entire lifecycle of an SOA initiative and at each stage of a SOA deployment, say the companies.

Financial details of the acquisition were not announced. In fact, as of this writing, the Progress Web site is silent on the acquisition, while the Mindreef site has been updated with its status as a unit of Progress and a FAQ for customers.

According to the FAQ, full details of the acquisition strategy will be announced in mid-July, when Progress, of Bedford, Mass., hosts a webinar for all Mindreef customers. What we do know, however, is that the current Mindreef products will keep their own names, at least for the time being, while Mindreef will adopt the Progress company name.

The FAQ also addresses the question of how the Mindreef acquisition fits in with the Progress strategy:

In January 2008, Progress introduced the concept of real-world SOA, which embodies three key challenges: distribution, quality of service (QoS) and heterogeneity. Mindreef’s core competency in quality and validation tools directly aligns with QoS, where QoS helps organizations strive for a SOA that is fast, reliable, scalable and secure, and thus strengthens our overall go-to-market strategy moving into 2009.

Earlier this week, as I reported on Wednesday, Progress bought IONA Technologies for a little over $100 million, which broadened Progress' position in the SOA marketplace.

Last August, I had a podcast discussion with Colleen Smith, managing director of Software as a Service for Progress, in which we discussed the company's acquisition strategies, among other things.

I took my first briefing with Mindreef, given their neighborly proximity, about three years ago. The seasoned team had a hit on their hands with SOAPscope, and their timing in the SOA market was great. But I'm not sure the company grew as was hoped, and perhaps the fast evolution of SOA beyond a WS-* emphasis played a role. SOAP hasn't blossomed to quite the degree some people had forecast.

In any event, I expect this was a happy transition.

Eclipse Foundation delivers Ganymede train with 23 cars, but where are the cloud on-ramps?

Not all trains run on time, but The Eclipse Foundation has kept to its schedule with its annual release train, this year named Ganymede.

For the third year in a row, the Eclipse community has delivered, on the same day as in previous years, numerous software updates across a wide range of projects.

This year's iteration includes software that spans 23 projects and represents over 18 million lines of code. Highlights of the release include the new p2 provisioning platform, new Equinox security features, new Ecore modeling tools, and support for service-oriented architecture (SOA).

Now that the Eclipse Foundation has proven it mettle with delivery of consistent and complete packages of downloads -- now's the time to take this puppy to the cloud. I'd like to see more integration between Eclipse products and cloud-based development, integration and deployment services. And I'm not alone on these wants, no siree.

Amazon Web Services has proven the demand and acceptance. A modern IDE needs the cloud hand-offs and test and real-world performance proofing that cloud and platform as a service (PaaS) are now offering. How about a hybrid model where the IDE remains local but more application lifecycle management and test and debug features comes as services?

How about integration between such a hybrid model and then associated ease to choose among a variety of cloud deployment partners and models? Build, test, and deploy across many providers and models, all close in the bosom of Eclipse. All supported by the community. We could call it Eclipse Cloud Services (ECS). I'm in.

Well, until IBM figures that out, here are the lastest and greatest on earth-bound Eclipse. Key features of the release for SOA support include:
  • SCA Designer, which provides a graphical interface for developers who wish to create composite applications using the SCA 1.0 standard.

  • Policy Editor, a collection of editors and validators that makes it easy for developers to construct and manipulate XML expressions that conform to the WS-Policy W3C standard.

  • Business process modeling notation (BPMN) Editor that allows consumers to construct and extend the BPMN 1.1 standard notation to illustrate business processes.
For Equinox and runtime projects:
  • A new provisioning system, called p2, makes it easier for Eclipse users to install and update Eclipse.

  • New security features, including a preferences-like storage for sensitive data such as passwords and login credentials and the ability to easily use the Java authentication service (JAAS) in Equinox.

  • Rich Ajax Platform (RAP) 1.1, with new features, including the ability to customize the look and feel with Presentation Factories and CSS and the ability to store application state information on a per user basis.

  • The Eclipse Communication Framework (ECF), with real-time shared editing and other communications features to allow developers to communicate and collaborate from within Eclipse.
Developer tools include:
  • A new JavaScript IDE, called JSDT, provides the same level of support for JavaScript as the JDT provides for Java. New features include code completion, quick fix, formatting and validation.

  • The Business Intelligenec Reporting Tools (BIRT) project now provides an improved JavaScript editor and a new JavaScript debugger for debugging report event handlers.

  • DTP has added a new graphical SQL query editor, called the SQL Query Builder, and improved usability of connection profile creation and management for users and adopters/extenders.
More information on all of the new the features can be found at the Ganymede Web site.

The idea behind the yearly release train, according to the Eclipse Foundation, is to provide predictability and reliability for developers in an effort to promote commercial adoption of the Eclipse community's projects.

ZDNet blogger Ed Burnette details how Eclipse maneuvered pieces of the new release out to mirror sites in an attempt to avoid the type of logjam created when the new Firefox went live recently. Apparently, it was only partly successful, although, according to Ed, things have since smoothed out.

Ganymede, named after one of the moons of Jupiter, eclipsed the previous releases, names Callisto and Europa, also moons of Jupiter. Last year's release train encompassed 21 projects, and Europa, the 2006 release, included only 10.

Ganymede is available for download, in one of seven packages, on the Eclipse Web site.

Coveo G2B for CRM provides search-based single customer view from disparate content sources

As companies search for the holy grail of a "single view" of the customer, Coveo Solutions, Inc., which provides search-powered enterprise information access, has unveiled its Coveo G2B for CRM, a way to provide a view of all relevant customer data from a wide variety of sources.

G2B for CRM brings together data from such sources as, Siebel Systems, corporate intranets, tech support emails, customer support databases, and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems.

It also provides advanced content analytics, giving workers the ability to present customer data graphically. Presenting customer data as a spreadsheet or a pie chart allows management or workers in planning, forecasting, and resource management. This can eliminate the need for time-consuming database queries and reporting, even when sifting through millions of documents.

Coveo's approach shows the productivity benefits of enterprise search continue to be explored. Google (appliances), Microsoft (with FAST Search technology) and Autonomy certainly think so.

Newton, Mass.- and Quebec-based Coveo G2B for CRM, built on the Coveo Enterprise Search-platform technology, is part of the company's G2B Information Access Suite, which allows knowledge workers to obtain a unified view of enterprise information.

I'm interested in seeing more mashups of search from across many enterprise and web-based providers (including social networks) to give even more complete and vetted views of customers, suppliers, partners, employees and any others that relate to business activities or ecologies. The information is out there, just waiting to be harvested and managed.

And when are we going to get a single view of IT assets in association with business processes? Increasingly searching IT devices and resources is playing a role in enterprise search too. How about not only getting a single view of the customer but also instant views to the right systems to reach out to them through, or the right integration avenues?

Let's search people and systems and gather insights to the systems context of business along with the social aspects. People, process, systems and search. That's the ticket.