The Village View

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Unbreakable Linux from Oracle

Oracle announced support for the Red Hat distribution of Linux at its annual users conference last week.

In a sign of the central role of Linux in Oracle's future, Ellison said this week that Oracle will strip the Red Hat trademarks and symbols out of Red Hat Linux and market that version as the best Linux on which to run the Oracle database. And it will back it with low-cost support.

"Low cost" here means about 50% off what Red Hat charges (with an additional 50% off thru the end of January).

Overall, I think this is a good move for Oracle, and likely positive for Linux users as well. Supporting Linux is another step in Oracle's desire to control the IT stack. Being able to offer apps, the middleware, the database and now support for the OS goes a long way in establishing and maintaining account control.

Some thoughts on how the Oracle Unbreakable Linux announcement might affect SAP. Not saying I believe all these, just that they are possibilities and possible Oracle positioning:

  • Likely little, to no, short term impact on SAP
  • Oracle potentially gains another backdoor into the SAP installed base, including non-Oracle accounts. Number of SAP customers using Linux has increased every year. Now Oracle has another layer in the stack, giving customers pricing flexibility and one-stop shop which is attractive, especially in the SME space
  • From a market positioning standpoint, Oracle further defines SAP as an apps-only player and can point to SAP's lack of operating system coverage
  • Oracle touts a more concrete open source story while attacking SAP's "limited" presence in open source
    • This one particularly is annoying given SAP has done quite a bit in open source

Additional thought inspired by this announcment

  • Maintenance is becoming/has become a main revenue driver for Oracle.Past announcements around becoming a "subscription" vendor supports this premise
    • Increased discounting on app licenses, open source support, on demand (including hosting) all are evidence of this

Monday, October 30, 2006

Ants wins Navy bid over Oracle

In general, I'm pretty happy when I hear about things that take away database revenue from Oracle. Afterall, Oracle takes their high margin, high renewal rate revenue in the database market and uses it it to attack SAP in the apps market. (Ironically, Oracle also generates a significant amount of database revenue from SAP customers).

The U.S. Navy has chosen an in-memory database from Ants Software Inc. to help run the back-end technology for its next-generation of stealth destroyers.

Ants won the bid over Oracle's recently acquired TimesTen in-memory database. Oracle is, of course, protesting the deal.

What I really think interesting is that I understand that it is fairly painless to migrate from an Oracle db to an ANTs db without disrupting operations. If that's true, then it's an even bigger threat to Oracle as replacing an existing db installation is much harder than changing the initial buying decision.

ANTs Data Server... support for Oracle PL/SQL and SQL Server/Sybase T-SQL, becoming the only RDBMS providing pain-free migration from existing databases... -Infoworld article

I'm sure there are all sorts of caveats, but if it opens up the opportunity to attack Oracle's installed client base or at least reduces Oracle's pricing control, then it's interesting. The salient question would be how much of Oracle's installed base would be replaceable by ANTs.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Homo SAPiens

The Economist has a (quite positive) story on SAP and its CEO Henning Kagermann. Speaks a little to the differences in personality between Kagermann and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison.

TAUNTS from Larry Ellison of Oracle, a big Silicon Valley software firm, cut no ice with Henning Kagermann, the boss of SAP... Last month Mr Ellison made wild claims that his firm had outperformed SAP tenfold and had established a two-year lead because of SAP's delays. He also claimed that SAP was abandoning its strategy of organic growth. Mr Kagermann did not respond personally, as Mr Ellison would no doubt have wished. Instead, his firm issued a statement denouncing Oracle's “complete misrepresentation” of the facts, and left analysts at Citigroup and Dresdner Kleinwort to pour scorn on Oracle's claims.

Thought the article highlighted two of the critical success factors (trying to keep my consultant-speak alive) for SAP over the next few years
  • Encouraging customers to upgrade from R/3 to mySAP ERP 2005.
    • Among other things, customers running mySAP ERP 2005 can be cross sold other products such as PLM, SCM
  • Selling to the SME space
    • Selling and servicing this market can be different than the LE market (I say, can, because a ME with 1500 customers functions very similar to a Large Enterprise). Engaging the channel is, of course a component of this, but SAP will need to make other adjustments as well.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Oracle acquires Sunopsis

Some of my colleagues looked at the recent Oracle acquisition of Sunopsis acquisition. I've summarized what I've learned from them.

How does Oracle benefit from this acquisition?
Sunopsis's product line complements ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) offering of Oracle Warehouse Builder. Will allow Oracle to compete with pure-play ETL vendors including in non-unique-Oracle environments. Oracle Warehouse Builder targets non-ORCL RDBMS in an indirect manner, making it less suitable for diverse environments. The acquisition improves Oracle's competitive position against IBM (Ascential), Informatica, Business.

Oracle may be pursuing a two part strategy in analytics: build/buy applications with deep industry focus and provide the full range of tools for customers who want to build their applications in-house

Also, the acquisition will allow Sunopsis to market its product more broadly to Oracle's North American customer base (Sunopsis is underrepresented in North America).

Sunopsis Products

Sunopsis Data Conductor - ETL solution
Business-rules-driven Approach to Data Integration
Graphical drag-and-drop to specify transformation and data flows
80 'knowledge modules' that act as code templates to specify data flows
- Java based tool
-"Serverless" architecture avoiding middle-tier transformation server (ETL Hub Server) and dedicated hardware
- ELT (extract, load, transform) architecture rather than ETL (extract, transform, load)
- Generating native SQL – leverage transformation power within existing relational databases
- Maintains data rules separate from processing rules in the metadata
- Standard connectors to heterogeneous data sources: Teradata, IBM DB2, Netezza, Oracle, Sybase IQ, ERPs, CRMs, flat files, LDAP, XML, etc.

Active Integration Platform (AIP 4.1 )
Common user interface and business rules driven approach for Data-, Event-, Service-based integration
Active Integration Hub – centralized metadata repository including
Common format designer: to design the Active Integration Hub, and
Service Conductor: to query the Hub and perform asynchronous application integration tasks in SOA-based environments
Event Conductor - designed for asynchronous application integration in event-driven architectures


Sunopsis resells products from Trillium, Information Builders and Attunity. OEM partners that sell Sunopsis products include: GoldenSource and NCR Teradata

New blogger Julia French hits a nerve

Julia French of Socialtext finally started blogging. Julia, in addition to being a friend, is in the trenches of Enterprise 2.0. I think her perspective will be interesting to hear. I hope she posts often.

Her first post strikes a nerve. I'm in the middle of trying to get my internal blogging platform (run on Movable Type) to let me create a new blog and am trying to get a helpful response from Six Apart. So far a few standard emails asking me for the email address associated with the account. Meanwhile, I'm digging through the forums. What's interesting is that I just came across a post in the support forum from Jeff when he was at SAP and had the same problem (no resolution).

As Julia says, "I want to be able to have someone troubleshoot in a timely fashion when something does not work and I can not fix it." I think this is a must have when using these products in an enterprise. I would go one step further and say that this needs to be synchronous support, e.g., telephone call, live chat. I, too, am willing to pay.

One note: to be fair, there may be a higher level of support that I could purchase from Six Apart that would provide this. BUT, I don't know because I can't log into their support site and my telephone call yesterday (thru the receptionist to "someone that deals with these things") has not been returned.

Why can't everybody be like Jack from Newsgator?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

SAP: software license growth of 17% in Q3

SAP reported earnings this morning for Q3 2006. Key takeaway: SAP beat software license revenue and margin (pro forma EBIT) beat consensus. The highlights:
  • Software revenues - €691 million vs €590 million in Q3 '05 - increase of 17% (20% at constant currencies)
  • Product revenues - €1.6 billion vs. €1.4 billion in Q3 '05 - increase of 13% (16% at constant currencies)
  • Total revenues - €2.2 billion vs. €2.0 billion in Q3 '05 - increase of 11% (14% at constant currencies)
  • Operating income - €583 million vs. €517 million in Q3 '05 - increase of 13%
  • Net income - €388 million vs. €334 million in Q3 '05, or €1.27 per share vs. €1.08 per share in Q3 '05 - increase of 16%
  • Revenue by region
    • Americas - €292 - 19% increase over Q3 '05
    • EMEA - €301 - 14% increase over Q3 '05
    • Asia/Pacific - €98 - 22% increase over Q3 '05
Here's a link to the presentation used during the earinings call.

A couple of articles

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Office 2.0 - key takeaways

I went to the Office 2.0 Conference last week. I thought the conference itself was well run; congrats to Ismael Ghalimi and Julia French for doing a superb job on the logistics. (Special thanks to conference planner Birgess Moore for finding my business cards!) As I told my manager, I think it was money well spent for SAP for three main reasons: 1) Contacts - I met a lot of great folks that I look forward to staying in touch with; 2) Thought progression - Listening to and engaging in discussion with those I met, and had known previously e.g., the Enterprise Irregulars, went a long way in shaping my thoughts on the direction of the enterprise software industry; 3) solidify SAP's position as a leader in the use and championing of Office 2.0 technologies.

Several of my fellow Irregulars have written extensively on the conference and I would recommend you check their posts out here:
- Ismael Ghalimi
- Dennis Howlett
- David Terrar
- Rod Boothby
- Charlie Wood
- Jeff Nolan
- Dan Farber
- Jason Wood (UPDATED)
- Zoli Erdos (UPDATED)

What follows are some "key takeaways." They are in no way MECE.

Hybrid is the right path
  • Believe it or not, this hit me while listening to Microsoft's Technical Evengelist Don Campbell. I believe he said something like "the user decides what's online and what's offline." Yes. There are some things I may not want outside the firewall.
  • Let's face it: today, and for the next few years, we're not always going to be online. To wit: 12 hours of flying time last week with only the "Devil Wears Prada" to watch = prime working time. I need to be able to access, work on and save my documents locally. Also, want to be able to collaborate and share of course. that's why I need both offline and online. Hybrid!
    • I think I heard Thinkfree say that they either had or were working on an offline version as well.
  • Question: at the end of the day, am I not often going to end up saving these online spreadsheets, documents and presentations as offline .xls, .doc, or .ppt files? Not all the time, but a heck of a lot of time. (Charlie?)
SAP gets it (and so does Microsoft, and maybe even BEA)
  • SAP had 10 attendees at the conference (actually a couple of more sneaked in) and was a platinum sponsor
    • We had folks from Strategy, SAP Developer Network, New Product Introduction et al
  • SAP is making a real effort to understand this space, both as a vendor and a consumer of Office 2.0 solutions
    • SDN - extensive use of blogs, wikis and podcasts to foster community among developers
      • Craig Cmehil - Community evangelist and blogger (SDN, personal).
    • NPI - widgets, enterprise search et al
    • Apollo Strategy (that's my group) - we're pushing the use of, and using, wikis, internal blogs and podcasts. In addition, we're involved with reaching out to the blogger community to ensure that SAP participates in the conversation
No differentiation made between SaaS and Social Media during much of the conference, especially the Making Office 2.0 Enterprise Ready panel
  • This is an important differentiation that wasn't made on a consistent basis, but is fundamental
    • The chances and method of adoption of a SaaS products (let's say CRM software) and a Social Media productt (a wiki) are entirely different.
      • The former is essentially the same user experience (ok, with a better UI) delivered differently, the latter is a fundamentally different way of doing things.
        • The challenges encountered in adoption will similarly be different
Goals of Office 2.0 are evolutionary, even if the means of getting there may be revolutionary
  • The goals of using a wiki are collaboration, project management etc. Basically, I'm looking to work together better
    • These goals are not fundamentally different than any other collaboration tool I use(document mgt system, excel, microsoft project)
  • However, a wiki is a radically different means of collaborating with editable, public editing & little structure
Wiki adoption is challenging (I'm not the only one facing this challenge!)
  • Esther Dyson nailed it - Problem with a wiki is that it's not explicit. It is a container, but not a flow manager
    • No verbs, all nouns. Collaboration is all about verbs
    • In order to help adoption, you need to give your user "hand holds"
      • Chair analogy - walking into an empty room doesn't provide enough guidance. You need to add and arrange chairs. The person who moves the chairs around is the one that makes the wiki succesful
        • Wiki template - has the chairs already in place
    • I'm going to look into getting some templates for my users, perhaps something we can provide upon establishing a new workspace
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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Jeff Nolan's new gig unveiled

As I posted here, Jeff Nolan left SAP recently. Jeff is the guy who saved me from consulting and hired me here at SAP. Have had the chance to catch up with him a bit here at Office 2.0.

Today he made public where he landed: CEO of Teqlo. Definitely, check out his posting on his move and new company. Teqlo is funded by Leapfrog Ventures. Also, below I've included a Q&A on Teqlo.

Q: What is Teqlo?

A: Teqlo the company is committed to the vision that users should be
able to assemble functional web applications without having to know
how to program. The applications, called “Teqlos”, are assembled out
of readily available web services. These services, called “Teqlets”,
have a service wrapper around them that semantically normalizes web
services by expressing inputs/outputs as microformats and then
subjecting them to a routing algorithm that determines the proper
sequencing of the services in order to create an application.

Q: Wait a minute, how do you determine the “sequencing”?

A: Traditional programming using a flow-of-control model where
application components are strung together and hardwired by
developers. Do this, then this, then this, if error condition then do
this. Teqlos follow a data flow model of sequencing that is roughly
analogous to the internet itself with each Teqlo having a starting
state and a successful completion state, and the Teqlo infrastructure
determines the appropriate path to link the services together by
routing data to each service based on what it is asking for and
producing. The reason the internet is reliable and scalable is that
each packet doesn’t have to have a predetermined path to completion,
the routing infrastructure of the internet detemines it as it is
delivering the packet.

Q: Teqlos are built up from Teqlets, but you don’t have many Teqlets
available yet. How long will it be before I have the services I want.

A: The preview version of is certainly not a finished
product, in fact aside from demonstrating the concept in a functional
system we do not expect that you will be productive in this release.
The top three priorities we have are to 1) finish the development
environment and APIs so that anyone can develop their own Teqlets, 2)
enhance the runtime environment to be more user friendly and
reliable, and 3) build out the Teqlet library.

Q: If I build a Teqlo, who owns it?

A: You do. The publishing process permits you 3 levels of state with
public being wide open, private being only for you, and group
enabling the invite process

Q: If I build a Teqlet, who owns it?

A: You do. While we are encouraging the development of public
Teqlets, we have a licensing model that enable Teqlet developers to
license their Teqlets.

Q: Will Teqlos run outside of

A: No, but this is something we are working on.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

SugarCRM launches application marketplace

Dan has a good post on the launch of SugarCRM's version of AppExchange, SugarExchange.

...a commercial marketplace of applications and extensions to the base CRM platform. SugarExchange starts with 100 applications certified by SugarCRM (which is based on open source code), including more than 40 available for purchase.

This, of course, is on the heels of WebEx's announcement of its platform (Zoli's take; Ismael's take).

SugarCRM CEO John Roberts also wins the BS, "am I really supposed to believe this?" comment of the week prize for this statement (as part of an answer to a Dan question):

"I don't follow very closely. It's kind of like looking at the past, not the future."

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

TechCrunch 8: Party In New York

I've been slacking on going to New York tech events lately - still unsure I'll make MeetUp tonight as I'm pretty crammed at work. Here's one more for the schedule (er, that is when they actually nail down a date - looks like November 16th is tenative). Maybe they can do it in Google's new offices; I'd really like to get a peek inside.

We will be announcing TechCrunch 8, a party in New York, in the next week or so. The venue and date are 90% nailed down. If you are interested in sponsoring the event, please email Jeanne Logozzo for details

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Forced upgrades! No, not Oracle or SAP, but Apple

I was gonna upgrade iTunes until I read Tim's review in which he stated that:

"iTunes 7 is EXCRUCIATINGLY SLOW. When I say slow, I mean ... like.. 5-10 seconds when clicking on a different genre in the browser."

So, not seeing a huge need as version 6 does the job just fine, and not being an early adopter in this area (hey, i can only be cutting edge in so many ways), I wasn't going to upgrade any time soon.

Well, today Apple informs me that an album I had pre-ordered was ready for purchase. Cool; I click thru to buy and -BOOM- "Purchasing this album requires upgrading to iTunes 7." Requires? Really? The new Evanescence couldn't possibly play on iTunes 6? The melody is incompatible with version 6?

Possible silver lining: it's always a good experience for someone who works at an enterprise software company to be reminded of a little bit of the pain that a customer might feel.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Office 2.0

I'm heading to the Office 2.0 conference next week in San Francisco. Fellow Irregular Ismael Ghalimi is hosting/organizing. Julia French did a lot of the behind-the-scenes organizing, so I'm sure it will be a great conference. SAP is a sponsor.

I'm shooting to get in on Tuesday early afternoon and will leave for New York again Friday morning.