Sunday, September 28, 2008

Google Patent hints at new dimension of Mobile Applications

Google has filed a patent application which "suggests it is planning to rid users of the need to choose a single network at all. The patent describes a system where instead of always connecting to one network, a phone, laptop or other wireless device invites all available networks to bid for your business."
If this patent comes to reality, it will mean a lot of convinience for end-users - Switching from one network to another multiple times a day to get the best rate for more bandwidth. Yes, changing the cellular/connectivity network and mode of communication on demand!. (Wi-Fi/CDMA or GSM). Ok!. This is purely from economic perspective!.
What does this mean for Mobile apps?. Hypothetically, for this patent to work, a thick client has to be installed in the Mobile device that directly communicates with service providers or to a central Google gateway to perform the tariff negotiations. The negotiations and agreements can be based on pre-configured preferences/business rules or the application can automatically pick up the best rate. Now, doesn't this sound like a B2B scenario where the buyer and seller gets into receiving quotes, negotiating over the quotes and making a purchase order?.
It sounds exactly the same.
So what we are talking about is that - Mobile applications would be Smarter, Intelligent and Do more Hardwork than in the past, Can work in the background while the user is working on some other application on the device. I could see these applications getting directly into the OS layer like Android to enable the app to execute seamlessly in the background.
Am sure more such apps would emerge in the future that would 'quietly' do the value addition. Incidentally, this idea alignes with Microsoft's strategy on Software + Services, where the Services are delivered from the cloud and Software sits on your device and possess the intelligence!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Oracle on Amazon Cloud

Amazon Cloud computing is gaining enterprise credibility. Now with the biggest announcement, Oracle Database, Oracle Fusion Middleware and Oracle Enterprise Manager can be licensed to run within Amazon EC2 Cloud. Customers can even reuse their existing licenses with no additional licensing fees to run in the cloud. These products along with Oracle Enterprise Linux are prepackaged and ready to run in the Amazon cloud. In addition to that, Oracle Developer tools and Middleware are readily availabile to build and host enterprise applications on the cloud.
Thats definitely a welcome change!. Now, Provisioning, Building and Deploying applications on the Oracle suite does not need a huge upfront / capital expenditure on the hardware infrastructure and all can be done within minutes!.
But, this only means that the enterprise customers will get an advantage at leveraging Hardware/Infrastructure-as-a-Service and they may need to wait till the next level of granularity of services arrive, which is Oracle itself becoming available as Software-as-Service.
One more interesting observation was - with recent acquisition Oracle has made out of BEA systems, having double the power of SOA/middlware platforms, Why didn't Oracle decide to build and host its own SaaS platform?. Instead, why did it decide to partner with Amazon's cloud?
The answer only adds credibility to Amazon in the Cloud Market and I believe this move by Oracle may invite some more Enterprise vendors to Amazon Cloud. Would it be SAP?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Social Media - Yet another Delivery Channel?

While we talk about Multi-channel / Pervasive applications, have we ever thought of Social Media websites as one of the delivery channels?. And thats the news today...Gone are the days where the customers will reach out to company's website to access their applications.
The trend today is that...Apps are reaching out to customers where they are...
I was thrilled to see this - Online Banking Module for Facebook called MyMoney. This module offers transactional online banking services to Facebook users such as view account balances, review account history and transfer funds right within the Facebook itself.
What this means is that Facebook / Social Media websites are slowly emerging as Enterprise Application Delivery platforms where company's can unleash a whole new set of services targeted at Generation Y. And the added bonus is the viral marketing where the existing connections among members can be easily leveraged for marketing new products/services. The possibilities are immense.
And it looks like Top banks have realised the potential as well. Its impressive to see what Wells Forgo is doing in web 2.0 / Social Media space. And as of yesterday, Wachovia Bank has ventured into using Twitter to reach out to customers.
And Apple iPhone Store has quite a few serious apps including Financial services.
This proliferation of apps trend in web 2.0 can be taken for granted by the Gen Y customers and companies may need to seriously evaluate the options for venturing into web 2.0 / Social Media. Today, if a company does not have an online presence / very good online presence, its brand value may be affected which may eventually lead to reduced sales / customers. Similarly, in future, the company's may be forced to have a presence in the Social media sites as well..

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Can your competitor innovate for you?

Yes, its possible...and thats called 'Open Innovation'. :-)
SAP attempts to innovate in web 2.0 style. It has tied up 'Innocentive', an Open Innovation marketplace. It connects people from various organizations, academia, talented people across the world who are looking for breakthrough innovation. The platform has so far been used for Pharma, and Retail industries and this is the first time a technology company like SAP has ventured into this paradigm. Am sure there would be tons of IP issues involved in terms of incorporating the open ideas into the product and licensing it out.
But, its a good start. Now, anyone in the world can contribute to the product development at SAP. I have been a subscriber to Innocentive mailing list for quite sometime now. It is interesting to see such a quiet firm suddenly getting the media attention by association with industry leader like SAP. I wouldn't be surprised if more such technology industry leaders join the bandwagon!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Do you know what is Imagineering?

Of course, you can guess - Imagination + Engineering. Walt Disney is the pioneer in creating a Organization known as 'Imagineering' that does the master planning, creative development, design, engineering, production, project management, and research and development arm of The Walt Disney Company and its affiliates. Representing more than 150 disciplines, its talented corps of Imagineers is responsible for the creation of Disney resorts, theme parks and attractions, hotels, water parks, real estate developments, regional entertainment venues, cruise ships and new media technology projects.
In simple terms, Imagineering is defined as 'the fine art of deciding where we go from here'. What a simple and elegant definition!.
In this discipline, imagination/innovation is not seen as extra frills. It is blended with the actual engineering work!.
Now, you may be wondering why am I talking about it in Enterprise Technology blog!.
Here is where I come from ... SAP has setup a similar 'Imagineering' organization whose main purpose is to help SAP and its customer navigate the future. You can visualize this department as a Startup within a Large company like SAP. The imagineering dept works on cutting-edge new/futuristic technologies & business models (yes not just technologies, but business models as well) and comes out with Proof-of-Concepts and Pilots within SAP. The dept currently works predominantly on web 2.0 technologies and pilots them in SAP employee community.
Here is a podcast from the Head of Imagineering at SAP. Don't miss it, if you are curious to know where the Enterprise Software is headed in the future.

Remote Infrastructure Management - the 3D way!

If you think Virtual Worlds/Second Life are only for fun & marketing hype, think again!. Big Vendors like IBM, SAP and their partners have started experimenting the Virtual World platform for more serious applications.
If we can have clones for humans, called 'Avatars', Why not 'clone' your infrastructure? - Thats the idea.
Implenia, a Swiss based Building Mangement company is trying unique and innovative solutions to build more sophisticated services such as Remote Building Management, Carbon Emission/Energy efficiency and Temprature control. The idea here is to link your real world buildings to virtual world buildings in real-time. Sounds Exhilarating!.
Have a look at this article. If you have your little window in the house is open, Close it via Virtual world. Control the real world using Virtual world from being anywhere in the World!. And thats the novelty!.
And take this idea and dip into business scenarios and you get intuitive solutions!. And thats what IBM is experimenting with 3D data center management!.
And You may ask - Can't I do all of this in conventional 2D world using Web/HTML interfaces?. Of course, you can. But the intuitiveness and the exploration the 3D could offer is far ahead of 2D interfaces.
The only bottleneck that I see is the bandwidh availability to support those huge amounts of visual elements data transfer over the internet.
But, if the internet bandwidth becomes a commodity like the mobile airtime has, the 3D world would take off!.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Visual SOA on your way!

Have you ever wondered why Google Maps leads over others in the mashups world?. Why do you think iPhone is so attractive over other phones? In India, iPhone 3G was recently launched and it costs $800, twice as much as the US price and people are still buying it. Why? - I strongly believe it is because of its visual appeal, ease of use and the purpose it serves. The user interface doesn't make one to 'think' to figure out what purpose it serves and how to use it. And thats the quality of good UI.
Now, let us come back to SOA world. Have you ever convinced a business analyst about why SOA is required? or beneficial to the company?. If you have had, you would know what I am talking about.
Whether its an Operational SLA explanation, product issue, or new strategic initiative like SOA - The communication between IT and business holds the key. If you are unable to communicate the technical message that is understandable and appreciatable to the business, your success is uncertain. Especially in the case of SOA, without business involvement, its just not qualified to be called as 'SOA'.
Take the case of next level from business owners to business process analysts. I couldnt think of business analysts modeling complicated business process diagrams using the famous, sophisticated modeling tools. I have interacted with those business analysts in SOA initiatives and their experience most of the times is found to be 'messy'. Though they may be able to create and author certain artificats for a while, ongoing maintenance and governance is a nightmare in those modeling tools.
So what is the solution?. - Zapthink has a take here. Zapthink is one of my favorite and admired analysts in the SOA space. And I have heard its lead Analyst Jason Bloomberg speak in one of the events. Zapthink is vendor agnostic and approaches SOA purely from business drivers perspective.
In this article, Zapthink analyst Jason Bloomberg ideates that applying 'Semiotics' to the SOA will ease the communication of Service abstraction to business. Semiotics is a study of sign processes using signs and symbols and typically used in communication. In this article, Jason gives a simple but an illuminating example of how we all use the 'Window' symbol in our Desktop to manage applications within the System.
The point Jason makes is that SOA will not be useful to the business without working visualizations. And we have a living example - Mashups. Consumers all around the world have created so many visual mashups only to prove that, if they find something visually appealing and understandable, they can put their imagniative ideas around it and create a all new business purpose serving mashups. Can we create this magic in the enterprise world?. Can we expose our business services in a Visual appealing environment?. Not in the form of 'Service repositories'.
If we can, and I would call that as SOA tipping point.
And one can see for himself the progressions being made in the visual environments. We are moving from web 1.0 to web 2.0/RIA. And from web 2.0 to Virtual worlds. Intel is actively working on a whole new paradigm called 'Visual computing' to provide a new visual computing environment for graphically intensive computing environments such as Gaming and Engineering.
I strongly believe there is one disruptive innovation that is waiting to happen between RIA and Virtual Worlds. Virtual Worlds interface is just processor-hungry. (When I tried Second Life in my Laptop, it simply hung). RIA is so good but I find it not so mature to front-end business applications. So an interim technology that brings the benefits RIA/Virtual World and a mature programming model coupled with SOA Semiotics is waiting to create a magic.