The demand for closer engagement with customers and users is driving companies to use portals in new and interesting ways. Throw in all of the social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, crossed with sales & marketing automation practices and technologies, and the opportunities for companies to use the web as one of their main "store fronts" are huge.
In this interview with Liferay's Paul Hinz, we talk about this use of portals, of course, involving Liferay. He spends some time talking about social product marketing, but also goes over the "good, old fashioned" portal features in the most recent Liferay offering, 6EE.
Check out this quick, 7 minute interview for Makara's progress and some interesting commentary on who's interested in cloud and PaaS right now.
Last week I ran into Issac Roth, CEO of Makara, and asked him to give a quick update on how his company, Makara, is doing with their PaaS platform. Over lunch at the Rackspace SaaS Summit we'd discussed Makara, the pros and cons of various public cloud providers (always a fun topic), and adoption of cloud technologies, esp., of course, PaaS. We get into some of that in the interview. Also, we talk about migrating applications to the cloud and the types of applications Makara sees being migrated.
While cloud computing has been focused on Infrastructure as a Service of late, in comparision, the layer right above IaaS, Platform as a Service, has only gotten slight attention. The idea of a PaaS is, in my own simplifications, to provide the frameworks, middleware, and other "stuff" built on-top of raw infrastructure needed to create and deliver applications. I don't know about you, but I find applications slightly more interesting than servers, network gear, and storage.
Michael Coté: Well, hello everybody! Here we are in lovely Austin, Texas, at what we have dubbed the SmartBear studio. This is Michael Coté, of course, of RedMonk. And today I am joined by a guest to go over a new release that SmartBear has out. You want to introduce yourself?
Gregg Sporar: Thank you, Michael. Yes, my name is Gregg Sporar. I have a face made for radio, but yet we are going to record this on video.
Actually, that was the great thing about doing the podcast, because it's a podcast and it's just my voice.
Gregg Sporar: But then, you took this giant picture of me and put that on the blog, and I am thinking, dude, more of a Gravatar. We don’t need -- here, we are. We are talking about Code Collaborator v6.0.
Michael Coté: That’s right. Just to give us like a really quick introduction, like what does CodeCollaborator do for people who don’t know off the top of their head?
Gregg Sporar: CodeCollaborator’s sole goal in life is to automate the grunt work parts of the peer code review process. So the collecting of the files and making them available on a central location. Coordinating the communication between the review participants and tracking what everybody says and where defects are found and that kind of thing, and then reporting the statistics at the end.
Michael Coté: What release number is this one?
Gregg Sporar: We are talking about version 6.0.
Michael Coté: So in 6.0, so tell us what the new features are? What's going to get people excited about this release?
Gregg Sporar: There are several things. Let's back up for just a second to version 5.0 last year, when we added support for reviewing materials other than just source files. The reason for that was, because a lot of our customers, you are dealing with a software development team, but there are other people on the periphery as well, that might want to be involved in the review. If you're building embedded software, it might be that the firmware guys or the hardware design guy, he wants to be involved and he wants to see his schematic in that.
Michael Coté: Right.
Gregg Sporar: Then we also had just regular software development teams coming to us saying, well, this is great, but I would like to add the design document to the review and look at it and reference it from within the same tool.
So last year we added support for PDF files, for example, and for image files, for JPEGs, and PNGs, and GIFs, and that kind of thing.
Michael Coté: And that allows you to add in all the commentary and the usual meta information on a piece of code?
Gregg Sporar: Exactly! So whenever I would show the PDF feature to people, they would say, well, that’s great, but I would really like to do this with a Word document.
Michael Cote: Sure.
Gregg Sporar: So there is a plug-in that Microsoft makes available to create a PDF off of a Word document, but people don’t want to do that. They just want to take their document and put it in place. So that’s one of the key features in 6.0.
The way we actually implemented that is kind of interesting. We built a Windows printer driver, because, again, at the end of the day, we just need to be able to render something and paginate it and put it into the tool. The best way to do that really in that environment is a printer driver. So it's not just Word, it's not just Microsoft Office apps, it's any Windows app that can render paginated output.
Other major features. A significant enhancement to our Eclipse plug-in, which we have had for a few years now. In the past it was limited to just being able to show you or actually just being able to create a review or add materials to a review, and now we have actually brought the entire review experience directly into the IDE.
Another thing that we have gotten a lot of request for is for Visual Studio. Not everybody uses Eclipse, believe it or not. So what we have done is just sort of an initial entrée into the Visual Studio world, we have essentially got functionality equivalent to what we had in our old Eclipse plug-in.
So again, I don’t have that ability to bring the review experience in, like I have done now and with the guys that built for our Eclipse plug-in, but it's a start. It gets you partway there.
Again, to let you stay within your working context, to at least be able to create the review or add materials to that.
Then there are what I call Red Meat features. Not RedMonk, Red Meat. This is the real type stuff, because these are features that you don’t have to be an Eclipse user or Visual Studio user, this is something that’s going to affect everybody.
This is, for example, one of the things that a lot of people have asked for, for a long time, the ability to delete a comment after you put it in to the tool. We are not actually going to allow you to delete, we are going to allow you to redact the comment.
Michael Cote: Right.
Gregg Sporar: I will show that to you during the demo. The reason for that is, we can't really completely remove it, because it would break the IM type paradigm for our real-time track capability. I mean, think about it, if you were IMing with somebody --
Michael Cote: And it just disappeared.
Gregg Sporar: And it just disappeared while you were reading it, that would kind of freak you out. That breaks that paradigm.
Michael Cote: It's kind of like that email recall feature, which is a little strange in its own right.
Gregg Sporar: Which is a little strange in its own right. Then the other issue of course is, we have a lot of customers who, auditability, traceability, that kind of thing, is really important. Nothing can ever be deleted.
Michael Coté: Sure.
Gregg Sporar: So we are going to allow you to redact a comment. We have changed the way that we display defects within the file comparison window. We have added, again, some of these usability type features that affect everybody.
We have made some enhancements to our ClearCase Integration. We have also put in some pretty important enhancements to our integration at the other end of the spectrum to Git and Mercurial.
Michael Coté: And how many version control systems do you guys work with now?
Gregg Sporar: 16.
Michael Coté: 16? That’s pretty nice.
Gregg Sporar: That’s a rather large number.
Michael Coté: That’s probably more than most people could name off.
Gregg Sporar: So a fun drinking game is to get a couple of beers in me and then try to get me to list the 16 in reverse alphabetical order, because I can do it in alphabetical order, but reverse alphabetical order is a little more difficult.
One last [thing], maybe, to mention really quickly. We did, and this is again something that you can't appreciate unless you are an existing user of the product, we have significantly enhanced some of our reporting capabilities. That's kind of that third pillar of what it is we do.
For the customizable reports, where the user can build their own query, we have added some additional fields that they can now filter on and select and that kind of thing.
Then we put a lot of effort into adding what we call user-oriented reports. So we have always had review-oriented reports and defect-oriented reports, that again, primary key is information about the review overall or primary key is, tell me about the defects that were found, but now we have added a third category, which is, tell me what I have been doing.
Michael Coté: I always think of that as self-micromanagement. Sort of optimize your own self.
Gregg Sporar: So one of the features, it is the ability for me to come in after the fact into the tool and find out, well, what reviews did I work on during the last week? I had a guy at a customer site explain to me this feature, because when he is doing his weekly status report, he knows he typically spends about 10-20% of his time during a week doing code review. Well, he wants to know, what reviews he did.
Michael Coté: Yeah.
Gregg Sporar: So again, user-oriented reporting.
Michael Coté: Well, great! Well, let's check out a demo of those features and see what we get to see.
Michael Coté: Well, hello, everybody! Here we are at VMworld, it’s a packed expo center, which you can probably hear in the background a little bit, and I wanted to stop by the Eucalyptus booth here and get a sense of like what's in the new release that you guys just came out with. But before we do that why don’t you introduce yourself.
Mårten Mickos: Hi! I am Mårten Mickos, the CEO of Eucalyptus.
Michael Coté: You have been on since March if I remember, right?
Mårten Mickos: That’s correct, yes.
Michael Coté: So how things have been going with Eucalyptus?
Mårten Mickos: So I am loving being back in business again, and of course, it's hard work building a startup, but we've had a great time with new releases, good software, and our customers are just loving it.
Michael Coté: What exactly is in the new release in 2.0? What have you guys added to Eucalyptus?
Mårten Mickos: So the most important thing is that we are at 2.0 of production-ready GA software which -- you don’t find many such products in the –
Michael Coté: In the cloud space, right?
Mårten Mickos: Yes, a cloud platform, we are very proud to already have come to release number 2. We have done lots of infrastructure improvements inside the code, cleaning up and making it faster and more scalable. So we have a great design originally, but then tuning the various components or modules to really make them perform well is just hard work that takes time.
Michael Coté: Getting it more performant and more scalable and all of that.
Mårten Mickos: Right, while keeping latency low. So it's always balancing act between latency and throughput and scalability but I think we have a great balance there.
We have added features that our users and customers have been hoping for some time. So we have worked I/O support now in KVM, we have iSCSI support, we added S3 versioning which maybe a significant feature for everybody, but it shows how closely we match the Amazon Web Services API.
Michael Coté: And that’s a huge part of your ethos still?
Mårten Mickos: It is.
Michael Coté: And it's really treating Amazon as sort of a spec if you will to write to.
Mårten Mickos: Right. We really see that’s the industry standard today, and whenever there is another industry standard we will quickly follow or add support for a new API, but it's also important when you support an API to support it fully, which we do.
So the stuff you learn on Amazon you can readily apply on Eucalyptus too. So if it will work on one, it will work on the other. So it's important to be very true to the original implementation and that’s what happening here in 2.0.
Michael Coté: Right, and the S3 versioning for people, it basically saves however many old versions of your file, kind of like Apple’s Time Machine, right? It's just --
Mårten Mickos: Right, yeah, and now you could do it on Eucalyptus as well. Those are the main things in our 2.0 release, and we will fix the bunch of bugs that people are reporting to. So it's just overall a great upgrade from the previous one.
Michael Coté: Right, so when someone gets Eucalyptus, I know it will come bundled with Ubuntu and various other things, but what -- we are here at VMworld, and if I remember you guys work with VMware stuff and you kind of layer on top of other hypervisors and some stuff.
Mårten Mickos: We do.
Michael Coté: What's kind of the list of existing infrastructure virtualization that Eucalyptus is coordinating and doing management over?
Mårten Mickos: So on VMware we feel we have the best cloud platform today on VMware’s hypervisor, and we also run on Xen and KVM. In the future we will add support for other architectures whenever they become relevant in the industry.
Michael Coté: I think that’s a pretty good quick update on what's in 2.0.
Mårten Mickos: I hope so.
Michael Coté: And let’s see there was anything else you wanted to throw in.
Mårten Mickos: No, I’d like to give you a demo, or I won't give you the demo, but my colleagues will be happy to give you a demo.
Michael Coté: Yeah, well, it's always good to see the proof in the pudding.
Mårten Mickos: Exactly!
Michael Coté: So that’s the good stuff. Well, thanks! I appreciate you taking the time to talk with us.
Mårten Mickos: Thanks Michael!
After the quick overview, the demo goes over using Eucalyptus from several different perspectives, and also an architectural overview. If you'd just like to see parts of the demo on their own, see the architecture, admin, and then user portions.
RedMonk client MindQuilt added in Google Apps integration today as part of Google's App Tuesday, providing a good opportunity to sit down with their CEO, Daniel Kim, and talk about MindQuilt in general. MindQuilt is a SaaS-hosted services where users can enter in questions and others can come and answer them. There's the gaming dynamic, auto-matching, and other automation of connecting people together you'd expect from an Enterprise 2.0 product.
I often talk about the concept of developing "apps" versus full-blown "applications." The idea is that the current mobile space has shown the efficiency of having smaller applications that narrow down to just one feature, or workflow. That doesn't apply across the board, but it does contrast with more traditional application development that tends to want to do more rather than less.
While I was visiting with RedMonk client WaveMaker last week, their CEO, Chris Keene, and I discussed this concept and how WaveMaker is seeing it play out in their user-base.
When it comes to “innovation without disruption” SAP’s story has been the same in recent years, and somewhat unique to SAP. Whereas most technology companies are eager to tell you about The New Thing, hiding their aging cash cows (if they have any) in the background, SAP is eager to tell you about their past and how utterly reliable it is.
Whether you throw it under the words R/3, NetWeaver, ABAP, “landscape,” “core,” or “timeless software,” what SAP is saying is: the software platforms our customers run their business on are mostly just fine, and mucking with them to inject the latest gee-gaw every few years is a bad idea. Instead of changes to core product, SAP’s strategy for evolution is to use an SOA-driven approach to layered applications (though, even that is tediously un-timeless as we’ll see below). Put in the vernacular, the back-end rarely changes, but clients and UI’s will come and go.
To go down the happy path, as SAP’s Thomas Jung put it in a recent enterprise geeks podcast, though many (all?) of the demos shown in the TechEd keynote weren’t “shipping” or even products, “just about anything they showed could be builtnow.” And that’s the ultimate desire of the SAP architecture – and also why SAP has gotten dinged for maintenance hikes of late: without new code to sell, maintenance hikes are one of the few ways to grow revenue.
Change in the SAP world is slow. At best, you can A-Team style weld on something new and fancy and wait for it to be sucked into the core.
Indeed, to hear many tell it, slow change is exactly what users and customers want from SAP. SAP is not in the game of helping companies be disruptive in their industry. Instead, SAP is in the game of day-to-day business and “protecting the chasm” (a company without a chasm probably can’t afford SAP), to use the Moore metaphor for maintaining the status quo.
And this position frustrates people who cover technology to no end. Popular, US-centric enterprise tech-think is founded on helping companies – even forcing them – to be disruptive. Use chattering class, then, finds a tech company like SAP perplexing because SAP refused to fit the only mold we think exists.
While at SAP TechEd this week, I snagged Matthias Zeller of Adobe for a leisurely discussion about enterprise RIAs. First, we talk about the freshly announced LiveCycle Mosaic, the RIA mashup/composite application/portal-ish product Matthias and team have been working on (previously under the name "Project Genesis"). As we note in the recording, this was the product he'd been doing a lot of field research around that we discussed in episode #55. Being at SAP, we then talk about the notion of "timeless software" that SAP had been talking about and what that means for RIAs: namely, layering client RIA's on-top of SOA-faced back-ends.
In this episode, I'm at SAP TechEd 2009 and jointed by SAP's Thomas Jung and Colgate-Palmolive's Ed Herrmann. Both, more importantly, are the the hosts of Enterprise Geeks. While this isn't strictly an RIA themed episode, our guests Thomas Jung and Ed Hermann hit on many of the favored topics for RIA Weekly, including enterprise applications and HTML 5. We get into some HTML 5 talk as well. We discuss:
The Enterprise Geek show - topics they've sussed out in the SAP, enterprise, and tech world and the emerging role the podcast plays in the SAP community.
What they think of Google Wave: business uses for Wave and some theoretic thinking on what you'd have to do to start using it at a "normal" enterprise like, say, Colgate-Palmolive.
What's up with HTML 5? Does the tag make these two excited about dancing charts in HTML?
Disclosure: SAP is a client and paid T&E to TechEd.
While at Adobe MAX 2009, I ask James to give his brain-dump on applying usability and "sexy" design to enterprise applications. While it's traditionally been a hard sell - evidenced by how terrible most enterprise applications look - several cracks are starting to form in the idea that paying for pretty isn't worth it for enterprise software.
James and Craig start out talking about the upcoming RIA Hacker Night '08. They then discuss Google Chrome and Craig's down-beat view on it, along with App Engine. James asks Craig about Silverlight uses he's seen in the field, and then they get into talking about wikis used as development platforms. Finally, they wrap-up talking about how RIAs have been used to make applications feel more human and collaborative.
Last year we had a great mix of open source, dynamic languages, development in general, Java, and all of the usual things you'd expect from a RedMonk event. This year I'm planning to have at least one RIA panel (with JavaFX, Adobe, Nitobi, and other folks), hopefully hear from Mylyn/TaskTop's Mik Kerseten, and I know James and Stephen have been cooking up plenty as well in addition to other topics we and others have been thinking of. If you have one in mine, just leave a comment below or show up and put it on the big planning board.
As it's an unconference, there's no hard-and-fast agenda set: we'll be deciding on the talks at the beginning, meaning you can show up and shape the day into exactly what you want. But, be sure to go register in case you show up and get flack about not being pre-signed up: that'd be a damn shame ;>
Disclaimer: Sun is a client, and Atlassian is sponsoring the RedMonk's conference.