Quite a surprise this morning, waking up groggy after 4 fun filled days at our IT Forum event in Nashville, and seeing Microsoft's attempting to acquire aQuantive. You're probably thinking this acquisition has nothing to do with information and knowledge management. Oh but it does...especially for any of you looking to support your online operations through the implementation of Web content management and related technologies.
Why should you care? Well, aQuantive offers interactive design services through one of their operations, Avenue A|Razorfish. I've witnessed enterprises - such as yours - increasingly engage their interactive design agencies for not only site design and persona development support, but Web content management technology recommendation and implementation assistance. We often see Avenue A|Razorfish and Molecular resources assisting in Interwoven implementations, and other agencies supporting Vignette, FatWire, or Tridion implementations. And, now that Microsoft's about to acquire the services of aQuantive, you can expect to see at least one agency push for using SharePoint Server 2007 to support Web site initiatives.
It's Thursday night of Forrester IT Forum and I've had 19 formal one-on-one meetings with attendees so far, and talked with dozens of other people during meals and breaks and before and after presentations. There's something striking about these conversations, compared to years past. Pretty much every meeting I've had with non-vendor attendees has been about their organization's enterprise collaboration strategy or Information Workplace strategy — or their need to develop one. I've been speaking with information and knowledge management professionals with titles like CIO, VP Emerging Technology, Sr. Project Leader, Dir. Global Strategy and Architecture, and VP of Information Systems. They are coming to 1:1 meetings extremely well-prepared, armed with architecture diagrams, drafts of their collaboration strategy documents, and lists of carefully thought-through questions. What a difference from five years ago when common questions were, "What are other companies doing in the area of collaboration?" or "Which is a better team collaboration tool: eRoom or Groove?"
Oracle has addressed a major gap in its application portfolio with its announcement Tuesday to buy Product Lifecycle Management vendor Agile (a deal Forrester predicted way back in 2000). Relative to Oracle’s other notable acquisitions like PeopleSoft and Siebel, the Agile buy looks to be less about acquiring customers and more about countering archrival SAP who has been steadily advancing its own PLM offering in recent years. The Agile acquisition puts Oracle back in the PLM game with a proven cPDM offering — particularly for high-tech & other discrete industries operating in fast development clockspeeds and heavily-outsourced manufacturing models. And Agile’s collaborative visualization offering (through its prior acquisition of Cimmetry) will further position Oracle against the CAD-heritage players like PTC and Siemens (UGS) in select industries.
SAPPHIRE this year is in the historic city of Vienna, famous, among other things, for waltzes, psychoanalysis and Orson Welles’ classic film. The film is actually showing at the local cinema, in a double bill with “Mr. Bean’s holiday,” which makes you wonder exactly what market they are targeting. Next week Ingmar Bergman and “Are You Being Served?”
Sometimes A Cigar Is Only A Cigar
The key theme, as it was a couple of weeks ago at SAPPHIRE US in Atlanta, is the Business Process Platform, SAP’s positioning of NetWeaver as the basis for their customers’ IT architecture. Leo Apotheker echoed our Business Technology concept with his keynote statement that “IT is All About Business”, as described in their press release “SAP’s Apotheker Puts Crowing Touch on Customer Conferences”. Well, this is where they invented the Freudian slip!
I think it is a credibility play for both companies. Verizon Business needed a credible security services story, and Cybertrust needed a credible financial story. Although Verizon Business had managed security offerings and expertise through the acquisition of NetSec (part of the MCI deal), those capabilities and services were primarily focused in the US market. By acquiring Cybertrust, Verizon Business establishes itself as a global security services player. So what does Verizon get from the deal?
The recent “buzz” in the WLAN space among both users and vendors takes a look into Aerohive Networks, the soon-to-launch, controller-less WLAN solution we expect to make its debut at or around Interop 2007 in Las Vegas. Formally emerging from stealth mode this week, the vendor seeks to target CAPEX savings among large, distributed enterprise deployments by removing the need for a WLAN controller in the design of a WLAN. Stating that its access points are, in fact smart, “thin” access points — in keeping with the design mores of competitor’s WLAN offerings, Aerohive offers control of all access points via a centralized software appliance. In this model, the controller does not necessarily go away, rather it is virtualized. Some might counter that this sounds similar to the “thick” AP designs of yore and, to that point, I would be willing to concede it seems somewhat of a hybrid approach; yet another nod to strategies of other WLAN vendors.
So, we have been getting a lot of interest in virtualization over the past three months and the space seems to be heating up, so I wanted to quickly post my thoughts. Let me know what you think…Desktop and application virtualization is the future of the corporate PC environment. Why? Because these technologies address many of the manageability and security concerns that enterprises are expressing today. Vendors like VMware, Virtual Iron, and Citrix are marketing these technologies as a way to ease Windows Vista migration woes. However, when do you plan to upgrade? Our data shows that these migrations won’t happen in the mainstream until 2010. In reality, the benefits that users are seeing today come in the form of enhanced data security. When talking with security directors, their concerns are clear: protecting the data. So, justify virtualization today with security — and look to these technologies to help you with your migration later.
Welcome to the Forrester Research IT Infrastructure and Operations blog! As the Research Director for the team, I am pleased to announce our entry into the world of Web 2.0. On the blog, you’ll find entries from analysts covering servers, storage, systems management, networks, and clients that address the major research themes we are pursuing. We’re kicking it off with “virtualization” — a topic that touches on the research interests of everyone on the team. We’re hoping that you too will step up to the plate and offer your own thoughts and experiences with this technology. Each week, we’ll add a new topic to the discussion and I’d welcome your suggestions.
SAP has addressed a major gap in its business planning performance management offerings with the acquisition of Outlooksoft today. The internally-developed SAP offerings known as SEM had seen limited traction among its customer base do to usability and complexity issues. SAP has been vulnerable to competitors (e.g., Hyperion, Cognos), particularly in the planning and budgeting domain.
Outlooksoft’s offering, by contrast, features a native Excel UI that appeals to finance and business users, and has integrated capabilities for planning, financial consolidations, and business performance analytics. It has seen good traction as a best-of-breed offering, with a base of approximately 700 customers. Its newest release (5.0) incorporates SOA and Web 2.0 technologies, making it compatible with SAP’s technology directions. Also, Outlooksoft has begun to move away from its sole dependency on the Microsoft BI platform.
SAP's annual Americas user conference was held last week (April 23-25), with impressive attendance of approximately 14,000. The abrupt departure of Shai Agassi a few weeks prior to the event was well covered, as Hasso Plattner stepped in to handle the technical vision keynote slot. A key message of the event was progress in adoption of SAP's NetWeaver platform and the latest release of the ERP suite, renamed ERP 6.0 from mySAP ERP 2005. ERP 6.0 adoption was announced to be approximately 2,600 to date, but upgrades from the older 4.6C and 4.7 versions continue to be a challenge for customers. SAP is looking to have 75% of its ERP base upgraded by mid-2008. Besides relief from rising support costs under the 5-1-2 maintenance plan, customers who upgrade to 6.0 can take advantage of a series of forthcoming enhancement packs as incremental add-ons (a strategy reminiscent of Oracle's family pack releases).