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Today Google and Salesforce.com announced another step in their ongoing flirtatious relationship. Salesforce.com will now bundle Google business applications into its on-line CRM offering. Salesforce will also begin to distribute Google applications backed by Salesforce support. It's always interesting when these two make an announcement for two reasons: First, they are both 100% committed to cloud computing and they think about the future of the industry in very similar terms. Second, it is fundamentally interesting to conjecture about the potential of a Salesforce acquisition. Note the rumor mill cranking up on this topic a few weeks ago when Oracle arranged for a $2B line of credit.
Now, Marc Benioff has stated early, often and loudly that Saleforce.com is not an acquisition target and has every intention of becoming the next major software infrastructure vendor. Fair enough. Salesforce.com has done all the right things to do just that. They've invested heavily in an infrastructure and built a reputation that represents a significant barrier to entry to anyone that wants to horn in on their territory. Salesforce.com has a significant history of securely and reliably delivering mission critical enterprise applications in the cloud. Raise your hand if you can make that claim. Not a lot of hands.
This morning Microsoft announced a $44.6b bid to acquire Yahoo! Driven largely to bolster Microsoft’s search and advertising business in order to better compete with Google, this move does have a few hidden gems that will impact enterprise IT environments. For insights into the consumer side of this story, see the post from Charlene Li and Shar Van Boskirk.
Interwoven has announced its acquisition of Optimost, a company offering Web site testing and optimization through a software-as-a-service model. Optimost enables organizations to use multivariable testing to identify combinations of Web content — such as ads, pricing, and layouts — that get the best response from site visitors (all the better to drive up those conversion rates).
This isn't Interwoven's first effort to appeal to marketers; earlier this year, the company announced a targeting management module that allows non-technical users to manage contextual experiences for Web site visitors. This latest acquisition plays nicely into the story of traditional WCM vendors offering features such as targeting, testing, and analytics that will differentiate them from the platform vendors, which tend to offer more limited functionality in those areas.
My colleague Suresh Vittal commented that this acquisition is just another step in the broader issue of increasing relevance and targeting. The question now is whether Interwoven will continue to add additional components of an online marketing suite, such as enhanced campaign management and Web analytics, in order to further differentiate themselves from their competition.
Today began with very interesting news — Autonomy entered into a definitive agreement to purchase message archiving and eDiscovery vendor Zantaz. This is a great purchase for Autonomy. They have already integrated IDOL server into Zantaz's archiving and eDiscovery applications, so they can capitalize on synergies immediately. eDiscovery is a hot market for both companies — the combined entities will have likely the best brand value in the eDiscovery space. With organizations truly called to action by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCPs), Autonomy/Zantaz has the solution set to help implement a short-term solution that can evolve into longer-term information management strategies (see our eDiscovery market overview for more information on how the FRCPs have become an information management spending driver).
This also makes Autonomy more attractive to the larger vendors, and I would not be surprised at all to see a CA, EMC, IBM, or Oracle in turn acquire Autonomy. Oracle makes the most sense as it is the only of the big infrastructure vendors that lacks the message archiving capability that Zantaz could provide.
Imagine two gigantic mountains of money. On top of each sits a warrior that wants nothing more than to be sitting on a pile of money twice the size. One warrior, we'll call him Google, dominates the world of on-line search and advertising. The other, we'll call him Microsoft, dominates productivity software.What's the fastest way to double the size of your mountain? Simple, take the other guy's pile.
Google entered the world of enterprise productivity software earlier this year. While they continually claim that they don't compete with Microsoft and that their goal is to bring collaboration and productivity to currently under-served workers,it's hard to imagine that they aren't eyeing that big pile of money that Microsoft is sitting on. Afterall, all those free lunches in Google's cafeterias aren't really free. Google wants you to give up that software and information on your laptop and access it all from their data centers.
Google spokespeople continually repeat the mantra, "We understand the enterprise". While I believe that to be true, I also think that Google has a lot to prove before being taken seriously as an enterprise software vendor. If they really intend to try to get at Microsoft's pile of money, they are going to have to demonstrate that they understand security, privacy and reliability and all in the emerging software as a services (SaaS) model. They also have to prove that they have the stomach to take on Microsoft for the long haul. Let's be clear here, Microsoft is not fond of anyone putting their hands on their pile of money.
I attended a conference sponsored by Carnegie Mellon West; The Fisher IT Center at the Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley; the Software Industry Center at Carnegie Mellon University; and Services: Science, Management, and Engineering Program at UC Berkeley. The one-day event was held at the Microsoft Campus at Moffitt Field in Silicon Valley. The goal of this conference was to discuss where the software industry is going. Ten sessions including individual speakers and panels from university and business communicated the strong message that software is at a crossroads and will dramatically change in the future, and . . . the change has already begun. To access slides of the speaker presentations go to http://west.cmu.edu/sofcon/postcon.
The changes are around growth of software-as-a-service, new roles of services as a value- add to commoditized software, and new businesses and pricing models. The overwhelming consensus was that software-as-a-service is where the growth is today. Speakers pointed out some of the most successful companies in terms of generating revenue like WebEx, Amazon, Google — all service-based. At the same time they do not see companies that have built their business around software like Oracle, SAP, and Microsoft going “down-the-tube” just yet. In fact Oracle already has Oracle On-demand, a very successful service solution while supporting their enterprise installed customers. Companies that have these installed applications will not find it easy to change to a service-model, even it they wanted to. It requires architectural, economic and cultural changes and requires a ten-year time table to move from an installed software model to a services model. It seems much easier to start from the ground up like Salesforce.com.
The WCM vendor landscape has shifted again, as global information management solution vendor SDL has announced that it will acquire Tridion. SDL and Tridion are touting the complementary functionality of SDL’s translation management capabilities and Tridion’s WCM product, and the inevitable tighter integration between the two. The acquision certainly provides Tridion more stability, and gives the soon-to-be-christened SDL Tridion a strong Web content globalization story. This should also give Tridion leg up in the US; Tridion has opened two US offices over the past year or so in an effort to target the North American market, but SDL already has a bigger field organization there.
My take: this isn't an earthshaking announcement, but Tridion and SDL are stronger together than they are apart. For Tridion customers, the good news is that Tridion and SDL don’t have overlapping technologies, so this acquisition shouldn’t lead to any forseeable pain for future upgrades. And the Tridion management team will be in place for the next two years, lending some stability to the acquisition.
SDL and Tridion will be announcing a technology roadmap and integration timeline sometime in the next six weeks. Stay tuned.
Connie, Erica and I attended Adobe's analyst days this week in New York, and Connie and I had a chance to sit down with Bruce Chizen, Adobe's CEO, over lunch yesterday. Adobe is a major player in the Web 2.0 universe, with Flash (and the new Apollo technology) competing with Ajax-based technologies for creating rich internet apps (RIAs).
While Ajax is more open, Flash nonetheless can boast better cross-browser and cross-platform support, especially when moving into the realm of mobile devices. Ajax can run into problems just between Internet Explorer and Firefox, but the Flash player works in both browsers as well as in Safari — and on Linux too. In the mobile, world, Adobe showcased a first-of-its-kind tool for testing how a Flash movie looks on a variety of different cell phone models, with extremely rich metadata about each device. It was able to simulate things like the appearance of the screen outdoors vs. indoors, and the performance of a movie on different phones. We also saw a Sony PlayStation 3 running on Flash content.
One interesting question was about whether PDF was threatened by Microsoft's recent moves to create a replacement standard in its XML Paper Specification (XPS). Bruce's answer was, to paraphrase, "No." He believes — and I agree — that it's too late to displace PDF with any format, and especially not with one whose promoter has the goal of selling Windows and Office in mind. Adobe's recent submittal of PDF to the ISO will really help its adoption in government, too.