Microsoft has taken another baby step into on-demand services, with a bundle of small announcements that amount to a little rebranding here, and a couple of new services there. The new offerings are Office Live Workspace -- a free, personal, Web-based document storage and collaboration space hosted by Microsoft -- and a fresh edition of the company's Dynamics Live CRM product.
Stories by Eric Knorr
For years IBM has doggedly pursued the massive problem of pulling data strewn across the enterprise into an integrated, harmonious whole. At LinuxWorld on Monday, the company introduced IBM Information Server Blade, an appliance-like bundle intended to make the Herculean task of enterprise data integration faster and easier.
The cost and complexity of CRM has long stymied IT. But John Roberts, Clint Oram, and Jacob Taylor believed there was a better way. So in the spring of 2004, all three quit CRM software vendor E.piphany and -- after just three months of coding -- launched the Sugar open source project.
Like the mainframe, ERP (enterprise resource planning) software soldiers on, though companies complain bitterly about its inflexibility. Oracle just took a significant step toward softening that rigidity with its new Application Integration Architecture (AIA), announced by Oracle president Chuck Phillips at the company's Collaborate '07 User Group Conference.
Two metrics determine how much money Web sites make from advertising: page views and unique visitors. The number and character of "uniques" -- that is, how many separate and distinct individuals visit a Web site and how much they are likely to spend on products being advertised -- determines the cost of ads on a Web site. It's the page view, however, that governs how much money Web sites take in for ads sold at a given rate.
Tough business conditions often give rise to ingenious solutions. That was the case at Merrill Lynch several years ago when the economic boom went bust: An urgent desire to reduce IT overhead spurred a Web services initiative that has saved the company an estimated US$44 million in three years.
Hummer Winblad Venture Partners was established in 1989 as the first venture capital fund to invest exclusively in software companies. These days, 12 of the 30 companies in Hummer Winblad's portfolio are SAAS ventures. We spoke with Ann Winblad, co-founding partner, to better understand the extraordinary momentum of SAAS and her company's relationship with IBM.
Applications are evolving into a Web ecosystem. Will enterprises one day get their key apps through the Web?
In a now legendary 1995 memo, bill Gates raised the alarm that Microsoft was woefully unprepared for what he termed the "Internet Tidal Wave." Fast forward 10 years to last October, and Gates blasts out another high-priority e-mail, this time warning of a coming "services wave" of applications available instantly over the Internet. "The next sea change is upon us," he writes
No company is more bullish on SOA than BEA. The problem is that BEA's WebLogic application server -- long the company's flagship product -- is really a Java platform, whereas an SOA is supposed to maintain platform neutrality. Hence BEA's platform-agnostic AquaLogic middleware, which shipped in early August, and BEA's surprise acquisition last week of Plumtree Software.
Go beyond a few basic protocols, and confusion still reigns in the wild world of Web services and SOA. Not just the towering, complex stack of Web services specs, but also fundamental questions about how those specs should work together and how Web services should be deployed and managed.
SOA presents a paradox: Turning applications into platform-agnostic services is a great way to reduce redundancy and accelerate integration, but where can you turn for architectural guidance that avoids the vendor lock-in SOA is supposed to prevent in the first place?
No one believes Patrick Grady at first. Why should they? He comes out of nowhere, radiating confidence, claiming his company, Rearden Commerce, has pulled off the IT coup of the new century. His triumph: a working b-to-b marketplace, fronted by an ultracustomizable application and based on SOA (service-oriented architecture). Delivered through the browser, Rearden's EBS (Employee Business Services) is capable of automating the purchase of many everyday services, including shipping, conferencing, meals, entertainment, and even travel.
Predictions in the 90s that we'd soon see the last of the mainframes were quite clearly way off and, far from their demise, today's estimates indicate that - 40 years on - mainframes host most business transactions and enterprise data, writes Eric Knorr.
Recently I wrote about the forthcoming Longhorn version of Windows and Microsoft’s plans to eliminate the distinction between client and server by making Web services protocols part of every Windows application. It’s a fabulous idea — when and if the whole world runs Longhorn, which will arrive in 2005 if Redmond is lucky.