Novell Pulse Lookin' Cool with Google Wave

Rob-Koplowitz  by Rob Koplowitz

Novell collaboration has been in the process of an extreme makeover for a while now. It started with the acquisition and subsequest integration  of SiteScape. It continued with new releases of their email offering GroupWise. But, all along they were working on something that would really differentiate their offering in the market. On Wednesday morning they announced Novell Pulse at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in San Francisco. I've been watching Pulse move from concept to what is now an announced product with an H1 2010 announced ship date for the better part of two years now. It represents an interesting blend of synchronous and asynchronous collaboration and content generation capabilities. If that sounds a bit familiar, think Google Wave. In fact, at the time Wave was announced, I was holding my tongue when folks would ask me if I'd seen anything like it before. I had, the product that became Novell Pulse. I just couldn't say because of a pesky NDA!

Thus it was interesting that Novell became the first vendor in the collaboration space to announce a significant partnership and integration with Google around the upcoming Wave offering. The premise is actually pretty cool. A user in Novell Pulse can work in real-time on a document simultaneously with a user on Google Wave. From the Novell side, all security is managed and maintained by Novell.

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It's Time To Put Aside Childish Things As Microsoft Announces Layoffs

Robkoplowitz By Rob Koplowitz

In his inaugural address, Barack Obama told us it's "..time to put aside childish things." A country that once showed greatness through youthful exuberance is being asked to show greatness through measured maturity. It's a moment of realization. And a time of challenge.

Microsoft has announced that it intends to lay off up to 5000 employees over the next 18 months. For those of us who have chosen this industry as our career home, layoffs are nothing new. We live in a cyclical world and nowhere is the cycle more evident than in the computer industry, where companies are constantly appearing out of nowhere, growing, shrinking, acquiring and being acquired.

But this is different. This is the latest sign of a sea change in our industry. The best and brightest minds in the industry saw this coming. Steve Jobs saw it when he turned Apple Computer into Apple and turned tech into "tech fashion." Larry Ellison saw it when he began to acquire players that would make Oracle an indispensable piece of corporate infrastructure and at the same time established a more predictable maintenance revenue stream to Oracle.

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Cisco Acquires Jabber - Can They Recast Collaboration?

Robkoplowitz By Rob Koplowitz

Today, Cisco announced their intention to acquire Jabber, a major player in enterprise instant messaging. On the heals of Cisco's acquisition of PostPath for email, it's becoming clear that Cisco is really serious about collaboration. Not only are they serious, but they are begining to execute on a very compelling strategy. Some of the more interesting aspects of this move:

  • Jabber continues to fill out Cisco's collaboration portfolio by adding secure instant messaging and persistent chat. Now, they have their established position in unified communications, voice conferencing, telepresence and WebEx web conferencing and email, instant messaging and persistent chat coming on line. If Cisco can drive deep integration across all of these components and do it at a reasonable price point, there will be real value in the bundle.
  • Jabber is well positioned for cloud deployment. Their core differentiator has long been massive scalability with a design goal of serving millions, rather than thousands of users. If you want to take on market leaders Microsoft and IBM, you need to identify and exploit a market disruption. Cloud-based collaboration could be just the disruption Cisco needs. Massive scalability helps a lot.
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The Dark Horse Moves Forward In The SaaS Collaboration Race

RobkoplowitzBy Rob Koplowitz

Today, Cisco announced its intent to acquire PostPath, a provider of email solutions. Interesting news. As parts of the collaboration stack become increasingly commoditized, the lure of moving the functionality up to the cloud and letting someone else take on the day to day responsibility becomes increasingly attractive. Cisco is at the center of this trend with its WebEx brand. Web conferencing has yet to gain widespread adoption in the corporate data center. It's almost as if the market just decided that as cool as web conferencing may be, I don't want to bother with installing servers and running them. Let someone else do that.

Is broad based collaboration the next big app to move to the cloud? Could be. Microsoft thinks so. They have moved quickly and decisively into cloud based collaboration, first with the acquisition of WebEx's chief competitor, PlaceWare (now LiveMeeting), and more recently with their announcement of Microsoft On-line Services. Google thinks so, too. They have been morphing their consumer collaboration offerings like G-Mail and Google Apps into business ready offerings for the last couple of years. IBM, too, with their evolving vision for Project Bluehouse and its focus on enterprise ready social computing in the cloud.

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Is Salesforce.com The Key To The Cloud Kingdom?

RobkoplowitzBy Rob Koplowitz

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.

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Microsoft Goes Hostile, Looks To Buy Yahoo! And Yes It Impacts You

Kylemcnabb_4RobkoplowitzBy Kyle McNabb and Rob Koplowitz

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.

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Social Computing As Disposable Technology

by Rob Koplowitz.

The question of measuring ROI of social computing is hot because it's so much a part of enterprise software acquisition. As information and knowledge management professionals move to get ahead of this emerging technology curve, they find a very consistent pattern:

  • People are using this stuff! Blogs and wikis in particular are popping up everywhere. Why not? They are easy to access, often free, and they are dead simple to use. It's one of those permission / forgiveness things. We've all done it.
  • If people are using these things that IT doesn't know about, there is no way of ensuring security, privacy, availability, governance, compliance, risk mitigation and all of those good things that keep the organization running and employees out of trouble (maybe even jail!).
  • Most really don't want to shut it down because in many instances these are more efficient solutions than those provided by the organization. These tools are often just easier and better for generating and publishing content.
  • The natural inclination in this situation would be to bring in the tradtional software vendors and see if they can support these new technology directions. Not surprisingly, a number of big vendors are ready and willing to help, including BEA, IBM/Lotus, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP.
  • Sounds great. Lots of reasons to go with one of the big vendors (see bullet 2).
  • How much will it cost? How much will it give back? In other words, can the acquisition be justified with a strong return on investment analysis?
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Content as a First-Class Citizen

by Rob Koplowitz.

Ever think about how much time, energy and money we expend on managing line of business data? Just drive past the Oracle headquarters in Redwood Shores and you'll see a glimmering green city of glass all built on revenue from managing business data. OK, they make some money in other areas these days, but the emerald city was build on database revenue. Managing structured information is key to the success of any organization. The number in the bottom line needs to be accurate or very bad things happen.

On the other side of the coin lives unstructured information. While some unstructured information has been afforded the respect given to structured business data (engineering drawings, legal documents, pharmaceutical documentation, insurance claims documents to name few) the vast majority has languished virtually unmanaged in file servers and on PC hard drives. Even companies with the right resources and motivation, like Oracle which has the ability to manage structured and unstructured data in its database as well applications to take advantage of both, have made only minimal progress at bridging these disparate worlds.

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An Experiment In A Community-Driven Research Agenda

by Rob Koplowitz.

This September 25-26 at the Forrester Technology Leadership Forum in Carlsbad California, Matt Brown and I will be presenting a session on Social Computing coming to the enterprise. As we began the process of creating an agenda for the session we were immediately struck by the thought that this session should not be driven by the two of us (as charming and articulate as we may be) but by the community that is interested in the topic. In other words, you all should be setting the agenda for a session on social computing, not us. If social computing has the ability to change how work is done, let's put it to work. We always want feedback after a session, but here's a chance to get way ahead of the game and tell us what want before the event.

To that end, we have set up a Wiki to allow the community to drive the process. Matt and I will build the session agenda directly from the input into the Wiki, so if you have areas you'd like to see highlighted, stories to share, words of caution or encouragement please let us know. Willing to help? Access the Wiki here and let's get started!

We'll provide updates on how it's going (both the good and the bad) right here.

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Do Enterprise Users Need A Second Life?

by Rob Koplowitz

A while back I was invited to a very interesting presentation of some research going on in Sun Microsystems' labs. They were showing off a project called MPK 20. The name of the project is aligned with the naming of the buildings on their Menlo Park campus, MPK 1 - 19. MPK 20, the next building, will be completely virtual. Think of MPK 20 as a private, behind the firewall, version of Linden's Second Life. The idea is for Sun to provide a very rich area for remote workers to come together and collaborate. Their early vision is very much a virtual version of their physical workspace world. The question that occurred to me is, do we need to pursue this path of virtual workspaces?

Let's start with an assumption. The paradigm of bringing workers to a physical office is beginning to break down and it's only going to get worse. A few driving factors:

  • Carbon footprint. Organizations will be increasingly held accountable for the overall effect they have on the world. Asking workers to drive or fly to a physical location in order to do work that can be done virtually is undoubtedly the biggest contributing factor to overall carbon footprint for most organizations.
  • Competition for workers. If you require workers to come to an office every day, your hiring is constrained by the talent pool that is located within commute distance of your office. Would you rather have the best worker available in the world or the best worker within 30 miles of your office? Additionally, workers that commute from long distances are far more likely to become frustrated and leave.
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