NetSuite Announces Aggressive Plans To Move Into The Enterprise

NetSuite was kind enough to invite me to the analyst day at its SuiteWorld 2011 user conference — an event packed with product, strategy, customer, and partner information. The focus was clearly on its platform and ERP solutions. Here are my thoughts and takeaways:

  • NetSuite wants to ride the SaaS wave into the enterprise. NetSuite is the only SaaS-based ERP suite of scale. It reports that its data centers get 2.2 million unique logins and 4 billion customer requests a month. However, NetSuite wants to do better. It wants to take its well-tested and well-adopted solution in the midmarket and extend into the enterprise. The timing is right, as Forrester reports that enterprises are ready to consider SaaS-based ERP solutions. In fact, NetSuite reports that sales to enterprise customers increased 37% between 2009 and 2010.
  • NetSuite has a solution package targeted at the enterprise. NetSuite announced a new “Unlimited” package for about $1 million, which includes all modules, unlimited storage, applications, SuiteCloud customizations, subsidiaries, and unlimited users. The exact pricing is based on functionality and number of users (which starts at 500), and scales up from there. It is a package targeted to compete with traditional on-premise ERP vendors as well as SAP’s on-demand solution, Business ByDesign.
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Ballmer's Masterstroke In Buying Skype

Steve Ballmer Does Not Like To Lose

With Microsoft's plan to acquire Skype for $8.5 billion, Steve Ballmer is doing a Jason Voorhees in Crystal Lake. Let me explain. Microsoft failed miserably at mobile. While the boys and girls in Redmond were contemplating how to put the "Start" menu on a phone, Steve Jobs was cleaning mobile clocks with the iPhone. But, like all great competitors, Microsoft knew they lost it. So they started from scratch. The result: Windows Phone 7. In my opinion, an awesome mobile platform on a par with iPhone, albeit with a lot less cultural cachet. The problem: The momentum favors iPhone and Android. Microsoft needs an ace card. Ballmer, potentially, found an ace card in Skype.

With 633 Million Users, Skype Is A Communication Juggernaut

Skype is not a phone. It's a way to see your three-year-old granddaughter, connect with your adult children, or make sure your family is safe 4,000 miles away. And, it's mostly free. Of the 633 million users, fewer than 8 million are paying users. No matter. What is important is that many of these users would love to make free calls on a mobile phone.

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Expand Your Enterprise Mobile Horizon

 

Monday was yet another announcement-filled day in what seems to be the year that mobile takes center stage for application developers. While the U.S. Congress was grilling Apple and Google executives about their privacy practices, Microsoft was buying Skype,  and Google was making a slew of announcements including information about Ice Cream Sandwich, the next version of Android. Mobile strategy is high on everyone’s list: It’s a refrain I hear every week in the client inquires I take. The shift to mobile is big — as big as anything I’ve seen since the early days of client-server. If the arrival rate of my inquires is any indication, it’s bigger than the move to implement SOA and it’s faster than the embrace of open source software. It’s ironic that both have a part to play in incorporating mobile apps into enterprise infrastructure. In some ways, they are key contributors to the perfect storm we’re in now.

But as big as mobile seems now, I’m not sure that IT professionals are thinking big enough. I’ll be moderating a keynote panel at IT Forum with some of Forrester’s best thinkers in the mobile space, and as I’ve been reviewing some of their slides I find that they’re expanding my vision of just how profound the changes we're going through are going to be. These are some of the issues we’ll be discussing:

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What Microsoft's Skype Deal Means: A Post For Content & Collaboration Professionals

I'm not going to comment on the $8.5B purchase price, though I'm sure Marc Andreesen's investment company is happy with their return. And I'm not going to comment on the impact on Xbox, Hotmail, and Live.com. And I don't think this has anything to do with Windows Mobile.

But I am going to comment on the impact of the deal on the enterprise, and specifically on content and collaboration professionals responsible for workforce productivity and collaboration. When you strip it down to its essence -- Skype operating as a separate business unit reporting to Steve Ballmer -- here's what you need to know about the Skype deal:

First, Microsoft gets an important consumerization brand. Skype is a powerful consumer brand with a reported 600+ million subscribers. But it's also a "consumerization brand," meaning that it's a valuable brand for people who use Skype to get their jobs done. Consumerization of IT is just people using familiar consumer tools to get work done. It's a force of technology-based innovation as we wrote about in our book, Empowered: Unleash Your Employees, Energize Your Customers, Transform Your Business. Google and Apple and Skype have dominant consumerization brands. Microsoft does not. Until now. And as a bonus, Google doesn't get to buy Skype. And more importantly, neither does Cisco.

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Protecting Internal APIs — Is OAuth Ready For Its Closeup?

Two years ago, the OAuth API protection mechanism was a fairly well-kept secret. It actually won an award at the 2009 European Identity Conference for "best new/improved standard," but most people didn't seem to have figured out what it was good for yet; I felt like I was the only one even talking about it.

Fast forward a bit, when Facebook started using an early draft of OAuth 2.0 in its Open Graph-based platform, and then a bit more, when Twitter started requiring OAuth 1.0a use by third-party developers (known amusingly as the OAuthcalypse), turning off the HTTP Basic authentication option. And now we're in a world where cloud developers talk casually about the "open API economy" and the ease of getting work done by building RESTful apps, and OAuth is making star appearances in recent gatherings of influential software architects and developers I've attended, such as The Experts Conference and the Internet Identity Workshop.

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Is The ALM Market Expanding Or Segmenting?

Last year, colleague Mary Gerush and I wrote overviews of the requirements tools market, noting how it was segmenting to address different problems. (Click here and here for the two studies.) Application lifecycle management (ALM) tools may be undergoing the same evolution, forcing us to accept either a much larger definition of ALM, or several specializations within ALM.

In the requirements market, new tools, or new emphases among tools, were a sure sign that some kind of change was afoot. Several years ago, visualization tools were not only absent from the list of requirements tool capabilities, they were almost completely unknown. Now, any list of requirements capabilities that omits visualization would be incomplete. Several years ago, requirements management was the emphasis of these tools. Now, much of the interesting innovation is happening in requirements collection.

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Office Productivity Alternatives: Low Adoption Numbers Don’t Tell The Full Story

My colleague Phil Karcher completed some nice research into the state of Microsoft Office alternatives recently. I'll share a couple of the highlights here.

Competitors to Microsoft Office receive plenty of attention in the blogosphere these days. Whether it’s Google announcing a new mobile or social feature in Docs, Zoho a new API partner, or the recent buzz around the future of Open Office without Oracle -- it’s natural to wonder how much traction these applications are getting with corporate IT.
 
Open Office has a global presence, although predominantly in government and education. Google Apps for Business has a growing list of customers, although many are using Gmail, not Docs. Overall, alternatives’ take of the office productivity pie — particularly in large enterprises — is still very small.

 Yet, we hear from many organizations considering or piloting them. In fact over a third of respondents to our March survey of IT decision-makers with influence over the productivity tool kit claim to be “actively looking at” or “piloting” alternatives. So why does adoption remain so paltry?

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Your Vertical Is . . .

Companies often demand to know what their peers in a particular vertical market are doing within the realm of information security before making new decisions. “We’re in retail” or “healthcare” or “financial services” they will say, “and we want to do what everyone else in our industry is doing.” Why? The TCP/IP revolution has changed everything, including how vertical markets should be viewed. In the old analog world, you could define yourself by your product or service, but no longer. Today it doesn’t matter if your company sells plastic flowers or insurance — what defines you is your data and how you handle it.

When advising Forrester clients on InfoSec, the first question I ask is, “what compliance mandates are you under?” Like it or not, compliance determines how data is handled and that defines your vertical in our data-driven society. For example, I often say that, “PCI is the world’s largest vertical market.” It is a single global standard that affects more companies than not. You may think you are a hotel and your vertical is hospitality, but if you handle credit cards your real vertical — from a data perspective — is PCI.

Data defines markets. Look at your data, your transactions, and your process, and map them to your compliance initiatives. That will determine your digital — not analog — vertical. Using this measure, you can determine your security baseline and compare yourself to companies who must handle data in the same manner as you to help guide your security decisions.

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RIM Puts Mobile Device Management Vendors On Notice

Supporting non-BlackBerry mobile devices is a priority for every company I speak with these days. Regardless of industry and size, firms are bringing in mobile device management (MDM) solutions alongside their BES to manage the increasing number of Android and iOS devices that are in their employees’ hands.

Now let’s be clear, even with these MDM solutions in place I&O professionals should not expect the same levels of security and management for Android and iOS that they’ve come to know on BlackBerry with a BES, yet. Ultimately these MDM solutions are limited by Apple and Google’s APIs, but eventually they will have all of the necessary components to challenge RIM’s position as the enterprise mobile device, especially as more companies allow personal devices inside their networks.

RIM is obviously putting a lot of work into combating the market share erosion it’s seeing in the hardware and platform space, but what about device management? With well over 25 vendors in the MDM space currently, the fight is on for who will manage mobile devices moving forward. Cue RIM’s announcement last week at BlackBerry World stating that it will expand BES and BES Express support to include both Android and iOS devices later this year, you can feel the other MDM vendors collectively shudder.

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Continuation Of The BI Software Plus Services Convergence Trend

As we predicted more than three years ago, BI software and services are converging. Today, Deloitte announced its acquisition of the assets of the BI SaaS vendor Oco.  This is a great confirmation of several trends:

  • BI is hot. All of the leading management consultancies and systems integrators are putting BI at the top of their priority lists.
  • BI is all about software plus services. There’s no such thing as  “plug-and-play” BI. One always needs to bundle it with services to integrate data, customize metrics and applications, etc.
  • BI is a perfect fit for any firm with a software-plus-services offering, as demonstrated by
    • IBM acquisition of PWC, Cognos, and SPSS
    • HP acquisition of Knightsbridge and Vertica
    • SAS acquisition of Baseline Consulting
    • EMC acquisition of Conchango and Greenplum.
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