The Village View

Friday, April 28, 2006

It's not New Yorkers doing this crazy stuff

And you wonder why the Golden State has the reputation for weirdos... I mean a fat suit...really?

A California man is facing charges today after police thwarted his attempt to base jump off the Empire State Building.
....he was dressed in a disguise – a wig and a professional fat suit.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

RSS keeps catching on

As an alumnus, I get a regular email from Columbia Business School entitled "Ideas@work." Described as "offering key insights from Columbia Business School faculty in a format that is easily accessible to busy executives" I usually give the email a once-over. Today, I noticed that, in addition tosubscribingg to the email list, they have enabled RSS Feeds. Of course, I subscribed through FeedDemon.

I've got two thoughts on this: 1) the ole bschooll is much more cutting edge then I thought and/or RSS is becoming more ubiquitouss and 2) I'm a lot more likely to browse through the individual feeds that come in through my reader and read the short excerpt(and then go to the full story) than I was to go to their website or click on "continue story" from the email. (not 100% sure why, but I think it has something to do with being in smaller consumption sizes i.e. 1 story at a time. Hopefully, they will also send out stories/research as they are ready and not wait and send out magazine-style all together).

Everyone's an Editor as Wiki Fever Spreads to Shopping Sites

Couldn't pass this one up: an article in my hometown paper on wikis (they may require you to register, but at least it's not TimesSelect content).

Now and the people who built the online advertising pioneer DoubleClick are hoping millions more will wax authoritative about toasters, fondue pots and lawn, developed by two DoubleClick founders, officially introduced its site last week after several months of testing, while Amazon pulled the "beta" tag off its own wiki offering earlier this month (Amazon's ProductWikis — or invitations to write them — are found on product pages below customer reviews).

What's interesting is that I was directed to this article by a co-worker whom I was showing the Apollo wiki (from Socialtext) to yesterday. She hadn't even heard of wikis before, but caught this article on the train ride home; shortly after our meeting.

The article points out that at ShopWiki "initial entries are written not by amateurs but by staff writers." This reminds me of how a lot of open source software companies work. For example, most of the new code for MySQL is developed by in-house (actually a bad word here since they are geographically distributed) developers, i.e., employees. The community i.e., amateurs mostly contribute to bug fixes and the like.

I decided to check out the two shopping wikis mentioned in this article: and Amazon's ProductWikis. I went to ShopWiki first.Essentially there are two things you can do here: search for specific products (or product descriptions) or read Wiki Buying Guides. It's just the latter that are in wiki format; searches give you uneditable product information, prices, links to merchants and product reviews.

I clicked on one of the sample Wiki Buying guides: "Road bikes" (I'm thinking about starting to bike to work on the path along the Hudson river from the UWS to the West Village). The majority of edits were done by two users starting back in December. (I'm guessing these are ShopWiki employees) Just in the last two months were there other users editing the page. I clicked on the link under a bike listed in the "Less than $1000" category called the "Specialized Sequoia" in honor of the National Forest where I once worked. Unfortunately, this took me to a Results page with two items: Toyota Sequoia Special for $28,977 and a book titled "The Tree of Time: A Story of a Special Sequoia."
Unfazed, I tried a different bike, the "Salsa La Raza"(hey, I speak Spanish). This time the results were more relevant: 3 Salsa La Raza frames, all under 1000 bucks.

Next, I checked out Amazon's wikis. I did a search on "Chinese" and came across a book with an accompanying "ProductWiki." The information in the wiki, just a couple of lines describing the size and contents of the book, was welcome because Amazon had no description at all beyond the title.

Next, I went to the list of "most edited wikis." Turns out that the wiki page for the "wiki term" Qualitative Research has been edited 97 times, more than any other on Amazon. The book whose ProductWiki was the most edited was A Million Little Pieces by James Frey which had been edited 93 times. It was mostly biographical information on the author; nothing I couldn't get from a thousand different web sites.

My sense is that I would use ShopWiki again if I were looking to purchase something about which I knew very little. I actually like the idea that the original content is mostly created by experts. I think the community will expand on that content and keep them honest. I was less impressed with the Amazon ProductWiki. The little extra bit of factual information given about the author or subject matter isn't that helpful. I'm happy to keep reading the customer reviews on the Da Vinci code book, for example, but if I want the history of the Holy Grail or a bio on Dan Brown, i'll go to that other wiki.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Novell Acquires e-Security

Novell today announced its acquisition of e-Security, Inc., a move that will make Novell a pioneer in delivering a single view of security and compliance activities across the entire enterprise.

I'm not too up on security software firms. However I'm aware of e-Security given that they were a portfolio company of Updata Partners. I interned for the better part of a year at Updata when I was in business school. Congratulations to Conor, Jesse and the rest of the Updata team. I just hope that the e-Security guys don't unwittingly end up being part of Larry's world.

While on the Updata front, I'd be remiss not to mention that Jesse Lawrence, who ran the intern program while I was there and was a year ahead of me at B school, also has a blog. Check it out here.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

SAP AG Reports 22% Growth in Software Revenues

SAP AG (NYSE: SAP) today announced its preliminary financial results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2006

- Software revenues up 22% (constant currencies up 14%)
- Total revenues up 18% (constant currencies up 13%)
- Software revenues in Americas up 47% (30% at constant currencies)
- Operating margin down 1.6% to 20%

SAP AG stock(DAX) ended down 1.5%.

SAP said first-quarter profit rose at the slowest pace in a year on higher costs for marketing and hiring to spur growth in the Americas. (Bloomberg)

The SAP Apollo Wiki

Jeff Nolan, one of Silicon Valley's top bloggers, leads Apollo, a strategy group at enterprise-software giant SAP. Nolan and his group are using a number of social media tools -- blogs, RSS, and of course, a wiki -- to better compete with Oracle, SAP's chief rival. The Apollo wiki mostly is used for project management. [Note: this is a private wiki].

I've blogged before that our strategy group uses the Socialtext wiki. My boss, Jeff, is a huge proponent of social media, especially wikis. I'd like to think we're on the cutting edge at SAP with our use of wikis. The good news is I'm getting pinged on a weekly basis by others within the company that are interested in what we're doing and trying it out themselves. (I've been designated the Apollo Überwikimeister; I'm very proud)

Looks like we made eastwikkers top 33 list of best practices in wiki-based collaboration. Go us!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

MIT Free / Open Source Research Community

Saw a link to this community on Brad Feld's blog (which btw was the first blog I ever read with any regularity or maybe even ever for that matter). They have a database of online papers

A couple of sample titles:

- Seeking the Source: Software Source Code as a Social and Technical Artifact

- Two-sided competition of proprietary vs. open source technology platforms and the implications for the software industry

I just finished a couple of projects at work, so maybe I'll have some time to pick a few out and have a read.

Some times backups fail

Doesn't only happen in the tech world....

The NYPD staged a daring nighttime rescue that lasted into early this morning to free 69 people who were stranded nearly 250 feet above the East River on the Roosevelt Island tram.

Both of the tramway's cars stopped cold at about 5:20 p.m. after the main source of electricity and a backup generator inexplicably failed, authorities said.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Portal billing acquisition fits with Oracle's Linux plans

Oracle's decision to pay $US220 million for telco billing software developer, Portal Software fits neatly into its reported ambitions to gain, through acquisition, its own Linux distribution: release of a Linux version of the Portal billing system appears imminent.

I don't have much to add to this, but thought it was relevant b/c it combines items from two of my recent posts.

Oracle chief opens door to buying Novell

''We're missing an operating system," Ellison said. ''You could argue that it makes a lot of sense for us to look at distributing and supporting Linux."

We've been thinking that Larry wants his own LAMP stack; rumors about possible JBoss and Zend acquisitions were right in line with this hypothesis. Now it looks like he's admitting it.
This makes a lot of sense: Oracle has an 80% market share and 155% revenue growth for its db running on Linux. Not to mention 9000 developers doing product development on Linux infrastructure. Oracle Database 10g, Real Application Clusters, and Grid Control are all "optimized" to run on Linux leading to, Oracle claims, lower costs and increased ROI. I could imagine that enterprise customers would also find it beneficial to be able to purchase the entire stack from one vendor.

What I'm still uncertain about is Oracle's next move, if any, in the app/web server space (given JBoss's acquistion). Do they push, and maybe open source a version of, Oracle Application Server 10g ? Do they go after somebody else? If so, whom? Is there another commercial Geronimo project company (other than Gluecode)?

Monday, April 17, 2006

The ultimate in multi-tasking

My colleague Rob Halsey is live-blogging the Boston Marathon. That's right he's running (part of the) race and sending blog posts from his Blackberry to a new blog he set up on Blogger. Last check had him just past mile #5.

The consummate multi-tasker, Rob also just responded to an Outlook meeting request.

UPDATE: He finished the whole thing! in just over 5 hours. Not bad considering no training.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Oracle acquires Portal

Business software maker Oracle Corp. (ORCL) on Wednesday said it would buy Portal Software Inc. (PRSF.PK) for $220 million in cash, gaining billing programs that it could sell to communications companies.

This deal has been expected for a few months now and we spent some time thinking about the implications of such a move last year.

Portal is an SAP partner and indeed there is a joint product offering to provide telco billing functionality. Portal covers the billing creation, mediation and rating functionality that SAP doesn't have in the core product. Other partners provide these functionality as well, but this is the only joint offering that I'm aware of.

Telco billing systems are quite critical to service providers. After moving towards flat-rate billing, there is a longer term trend toward higher complexity in billing (e.g., per product, function or event billing). Whereas, transaction level billing was previously based on usage, it is increasingly dependent on products consumed. Think about what billing functionality you need as a fixed line or wireless carrier if you want to offer broadband, video clips, ringtones, movies on demand, IPTV etc. in addition to flat rate domestic billing and long distance and roaming. Furthermore, billing software will become increasingly relevant outside of telco. Business users will migrate to the consumption of software services and service providers will require functionality to rate and bill these services. Also, non-traditional applications (e.g., road toll collection) for billing software are being considered.

With this acquisition, Oracle is able to offer a pretty complete billing solution to telco service providers. In addition, Siebel and Portal have a joint offering. Siebel has a strong presence in Telecom CRM market. An acquisition increases the Oracle CRM/billing advantage. SAP will likely need to concentrate on working more closely with other partners as its unclear what Oracle will do with the joint offering. (They may sunset it as it doesn't behoove them necessarily to have a product which expands SAP's functionality in telco).

Monday, April 10, 2006

Red Hat acquires JBoss

Red Hat needs to go 'up the stack,' because outfits like SpikeSource and other purveyors of OSS [open-source software] enterprise technology are going to commoditize them as Linux helped commoditize the hardware platforms...

I think this quote captures the salient idea: RH will be able to offer 2 large parts of the overall stack. Granted marketing an app server is different than an OS, but they know how to derive revenue from a services business.

Will be interesting to see how Oracle responds. If you belive that Oracle wants to control as much of the stack as they can (db, middleware, apps), this will not lessen the competition in this area. Also, how will this affect Oracle's support of Red Hat Linux?

Jeff has a few more tidbits on the deal

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Socialtext launches mobile wiki & more wiki stuff

We use the Socialtext wiki in the SAP AG Apollo Competitive Program Office; I was asked to drive our initial adoption and implementation within the office. The Socialtext guys have been very helpful and the wiki has changed our reporting and collaboration methods. The Apollo Strategy Group just got thrown a new project late last week and the first thing we did was to set up a new project page and blog on the wiki. Instead of shooting around documents by email, we send them to the project blog on the wiki.

Thanks to Matt at Socialtext, I've been able to play around with Miki for the last couple of weeks. I'm sure we're going to find that it makes us more productive.

Also, I attended my first Wiki Wednesday last night. Since Matt was in Boston launching Miki, this one was guest hosted by Howard Greenstein (who seems incredibly plugged into the NY tech scene). Had interesting discussions on wikis, blackberrys and machine translation (thanks to Johnson Jiang of Loto)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006 does some cool s*&t!

I don't know what's gotten in to me today, but I'm like a PR engine for the competition. This morning I was pointing out Oracle's awards, now it's

I've blogged about AppExchange previously and how I really liked the ease with which a user could "Test Drive" partner apps and then download them. I called it "slick and user friendly" at the time.

Well, I just read this article about SFdC releasing a set of podcasts around Best Practices for using their application. 70+ podcasts of executives and clients speaking about their experiences etc. Now I haven't listened to them yet (but, guess what's on my iPod for the subway ride home) but that is not so much the point. The point is that here's a company that is using new forms of media to reach clients and prospects. Note these are generally not C-level podcasts (although Benioff of course has one as well) as there is a podcast by a VP, another one from the lead venture capitalist backing SFdC and a couple from clients. Somebody must have read the study that says CEOs are among the least trusted people in an organization.

Podcasting goes well with SFdC's counter-mainstream "outsider" branding as well (yes, I don't think that podcasting is mainstream yet).

Oracle's free offerings win awards at Linuxworld

Best Open Source Solution
• Xchange Server 5 - Open
• Project.Net Inc. - Project.Net
• - Sugar Open Source
Sleepycat Software - Berkley DB 4.4 (also has a commercial version)

Best Database Solution
• Centeric CRM - Centeric CRM
Oracle - Oracle Database 10g Express Edition

Both products are available under no-cost licenses; Sleepycat is open-source.

I understand SAP's booth presence at LinuxWorld was pretty minimal; one person who at times wasn't even an SAP employee. Oracle evidently had several people at their booth (many of whom were attractive young ladies). Small thing maybe, but what message does it send about Open Source emphasis?

Report finds SAP winning war with Oracle

SAP has stronger momentum than Oracle, due largely to its major head start in the business applications market. It also concludes that SAP has a better partnership strategy than Oracle and has done a better job of articulating the value of its technology to customers.
...customers who do not already have a major investment in either company -- those akin to swing voters in an election -- will probably be more likely to choose SAP going forward.

This is a pretty logical finding given SAP's history in the apps market. What's unclear to me about these findings is if the analysis included the SME market as well. If so, and if the partnership and swing voters assertions are correct, this bodes very well for SAP as SME go-to-market is heavily partner-based and there are plenty of potential customers with no major ERP/CRM systems.

Oracle's strong middleware platform and better support of open standards make it the right choice for customers who rely heavily on custom development in conjunction with packaged applications.

Interesting that Oracle came out stronger on the middleware platform. Is this because some of this "middleware" functionality is ecompassed in the database? If the rumors of a JBoss acquisition turn out to be true, this advantage would likely increase. In general, this finding has got to be good news for news for Oracle's Fusion Middleware marketing efforts

Also, I read the last part as "if you like developing a lot of custom code that may not be reusable, Oracle is for you." (sorry, had to get one dig in)

Monday, April 03, 2006

Oracle dumps space on Peninsula

Looks like some Siebel folks may have negotiated sub-optimal real estate contracts back in the day. A suggestion on how to avoid that in the future.

the software giant is on the hook for astronomical dot-com era rents for another decade...including $75.12 a square foot for 216,000 square feet at 800 and 900 Concar Drive, a rent slated to jump to more than $100 by the end of the lease in 2015....Average Class A rents in San Mateo are in the $25 to $30 range

Microsoft Dynamics updates

Microsoft plans to turn Dynamics into a development platform to compete with SAP’s NetWeaver and Oracle's Fusion, reported eWEEK

Microsoft’s CRM business has been luring customers away from more established rivals like Siebel Systems, according to Computerworld.