Conference Notes

Notes on "Vendor Spotlight on IBM and Microsoft"

From left-to-right … Akiba, Paul, Mike, Peter, Rob and Ken

– Ken Bisconti, VP Messaging and Collaboration
– Akiba Saeedi, Program Director, UCC

– Rob Curry, Director, Office Business Platform Group
– Paul Haverstock, Program Management Architect

Moderated by Peter O’Kelly and Mike Gotta from the Burton Group.

What 2.0 Mean to Your Organization as a Vendor?

Akiba (IBM) … How do you run business when people aren’t together? How do you perform the mission of your agency / organization in such situations? Some organizations have transformed themselves through collaborative technologies.

Paul (Microsoft) … It’s all about communication. A lot of technologies have been coming to the Web to leverage the network to communicate and collaborate with each other. It’s been incredible.

Rob (Microsoft) … Enterprise 2.0 is changing the way that people leverage knowledge in back end data systems. Pre-Enterprise 2.0, people were the “middleware” … they had to make the connections between systems. Enterprise 2.0 allows organizations to leverage the power of software to let it do it for them. Eg, agility within an organization … a process worker does rote jobs, and haven’t had a lot of ways to do course corrections. Eg, leveraging knowledge within the organization, and when it is leaving the organization. How do we do things that need to be done that we’ve forgotten how to do.

Ken (IBM) … Need to be a little careful that we don’t get hung up in industry buzzwords. Have been through trends where we get enamored by technical advances, and take our eyes of the business problems. E 2.0 is lots of the same, and some new. Can’t just swap out one technology for a new one. However … there will be a change in how things will be delivered. Ken asks that all customers tell IBM (and Microsoft) to put us on notice … that things should be done better and better, not just relying on the old.

Question 1. (to Rob) You see a lot of growth in 2.0 applications within business units, but not across the entire organization. What does this mean for interoperability? What does it mean for Microsoft and IBM who want to sell suites?

Paul (Microsoft) … people are using different tools. Didn’t answer the question.

(Mike Gotta re-asked the correct question … good moderation)

Ken (IBM) … IBM and Microsoft are responding to the trends in the market, but frankly things that there will be market rejection to approaches that are all encompassing. Will need to be able to integrate with other things. There are heterogeneous requirements.

Akiba (IBM) … On the UCC side, we’ve had lots of different PBXes … different vendors. How do you bring services on your telephony systems onto the desktop? IBM’s strategy … middleware layers to simplify it and make it streamlined.

Question 2. (Peter O’Kelly) Am curious about competitive dynamics … who’s on the friend and foe list? What say you to Google and Google Apps?
Ken (IBM) … Google is very interesting. Are a key partner of Google … have Google-based search in Notes 8, work with Google Talk via gateways, and other investments with Google. Plot their investments. Expect them … fully expect them … to be a competitor. Google is doing a good job at collecting enterprise requirements, but they have some distance to go. Does Google have the ability to deliver better than IBM and Microsoft.

Rob (Microsoft) … See Google as a great competitor. Show the way in terms of ease of use and simplicity. Just as they are reaching out to the enterprise and working out how to do so, they have a distance to go. Some augmentation, lots of room left to innovate on the desktop. Working on a competitive response.

Question 3. Huge stacks that are complex and interwoven … massive layers of complex architectures … what are you doing to make it easier, faster, cheaper to link other applications into your stack? How can your systems be made easier to integrate web applications for the benefit of the customer? Eg, there’s no perfect standard on APIs, but they can be good or bad.

Rob (Microsoft) … Have a whole team in the SharePoint area for building APIs. Want to deliver integration easier. Have been trying to increase community advocacy … and to provide more guidance on how things should be done. From a sales point of view, have people in the field to help others plug into specific sales opportunity.

Paul (Microsoft) … On the development side, Microsoft has always tried to foster a large and robust development community. Across the board, the amount of investment being made to open up platforms to Web 2.0 standards, is very significant. Interested in speaking with the questioner later.

Ken (IBM) … Investing in developer platforms, etc. More strategically … we have made investments in open source software (Apache, Eclipse, Open Office, ODF) … you have to recognize that there is some traditional software … and there is one way of integrating with those that is going away, eg, contracts to APIs (as IBM has to do with Microsoft). Making significant contributions to other ecosystems.

Mike Gotta (Burton Group) … what do you think Peter?

Peter (Burton Group) … Both companies are doing a better job.

Question 4. (Mike Gotta, Burton Group) What’s Microsoft’s position on ATOM vs. RSS?

Rob (Microsoft) … not on the development side, but we have a list-centric application design in SharePoint. Have RSS notifications. ATOM may fit in the future.

Question 5. On API interoperability. As enterprises have their own technology refresh cycles, is it possible to think about APIs as providing a layer to allow technologies to connect … but APIs remain stable?

Ken (IBM) … It’s not black-and-white. There are spectrums of maturity, and lifecycles of applicability. Some APIs are very good … eg, ODBC and JDBC for database access. For other new areas … the APIs are less mature. Will have spectrums of capability and flexibility. Depends on the quality of service requirements.

Question 6. (To Microsoft) We were approached by you to partner with us. Writing Web parts for MOSS helps Microsoft, but how does it help us? When are you going to stop thinking you are the center of the universe? When are you going to integrate with us?

Akiba (IBM) … One of the ways that we are addressing this is a client side. We’re leveraging open technology on how client platforms are constructed … eg, Eclipse … so that it is easy for others to integrate into those. We come into the middle and choose a common environment that others can do. Also doing a provisioning mechanism so we can provision from the server world for deploying new technology to the desktop easier than having to touch every desktop regularly.

Paul (Microsoft) … For Microsoft as a whole, our dream goal is that every single one of our partners is out there getting rich. That’s good for us. Being a software and technology company, at its core, we can be technology first, and think about the business as secondary. It happens to us … and it can happen with partner relations. Paul is directly involved in establishing the next generation of the UCC platform, and it will encompass technology for both expert developers and ad hoc developers who want to integrate the capabilities. Want to make it easier and less friction to get involved and add value. When we do go talk to partners about why they should build on our platform, we talk about how they can participate in our whole business effort. The economics of Microsoft’s business is changing … as per Google, people can use lots of capability but not pay for it … because advertising does. Encourages the questioner to talk to Paul and Rob afterwards.

Ken (IBM) … It’s a better time now to be an ISV than ever before. Mashups are good. It’s less clear who is on top and who isn’t. Anyone in the platform business, we need to provide openness to you. Ken says they have a lot of customers with mixed-portal platforms, and thus must consume and produce content.

Question 7. We have a mixed environment … have Notes and Microsoft simultaneously … every time in the past when we’ve tried to integrate them, we’ve been forced to choose one way or the other. What’s being done to permit coexistence?

Ken (IBM) … We see dual technology platforms as an increasingly situation. The technology to permit coexistence hasn’t changed. We see a market requirement to interoperate effectively … not just between Microsoft and IBM. “We” have to prove that we are doing it. The IBM leadership team recognizes it, and IBM is responding.

Rob (Microsoft) … Has a whole interoperability team working on how to bridge the gap. We are very decided to support coexistence. And working with partners to do this.

Question 8. What can I take out? What goes away when I do Enterprise 2.0?

Ken (IBM) … There has been a lot of consolidation in vendors … as we provide richer-and-richer portfolios, people will be able to take things out. Part of the goal is to provide general content management and sharing for everyone. There may be some points in a company’s decision matrix when they can take things out, eg, Documentum, a business forms technology. There are dozens of areas when you will see us taking a very targeted approach to providing more general value.

Mike Gotta (Burton Group) … is it a double edged sword?

Rob (Microsoft) … Building on the consolidation of the enterprise … many enterprises have 10s or 100s of content management platforms, for example. Can take things out as a general plan is made to consolidate to common and unified solutions. Probably won’t get to one, but may get to 3-5, due to specific functional needs and requirements. The economics is right for some of this consolidation.

Question 9. Much of this technology is available for free today. Took some time for there to be an argument for enterprise IM. Do you see the integration of 2.0 as a revenue opportunity, or a “must-have” and a higher bar?

Rob (Microsoft) … see it as a “must-have” … it is expected by customers/organizations. Want central management and organization. Stepping up investments because of market request and demand for this. But still want to be good consumers of other systems via APIs and integration points.

Ken (IBM) … Believe that investment in open standards and interface is always a good investment. Always a good business decision to invest in open standards and interfaces. An incredible opportunity for ISVs and integrators around Enterprise 2.0 … never seen so much senior level interest in collaboration in companies for better collaboration and coordination between people. Great business opportunity.

Question 10. (Mike, Burton Group) … Future of instant messaging in the enterprise?

Akiba (IBM) … The model that you sit in the office with a $900 phone and don’t move around, that’s gone. IM is the expansion point … with presence at the foundation. Presence says who is available, and then can determine how to find them. Naturally expanded the interaction possibilities. The $900 phone goes away … and Sametime becomes your “phone”. Cost for toll calls go away. It’s also a lot simpler.

Paul (Microsoft) … Agrees. People will be in applications rather than IM, because presence/IM is integrated into applications.

Question 11. (Mike, Burton Group) Where’s offline going?

Peter (Burton Group) … Watch this space. Ray Ozzie did two good things … Notes and Groove. Other new things too, eg, Gears from Google.

Question 12. On licensing … We’re an ISV and do things on SharePoint, with enterprise customers, are running into large gates due to legacy enterprise licensing schemes. In SAP, a license is based on access to the data. Problem = When you give access to the data to applications and outside, what happens? Licensing schemes can prevent Web 2.0 applications from easily being rolled out? Will this change?

Rob (Microsoft) … When technology changes, the business model has to change too. Are trying to inject licensing ideas early in the process, because it often impacts the final architecture. Licensing can be seen as a blocker for applications. New lightweight data access requirements may lead to lightweight data access licensing ideas, eg, tiered licensing. Are in planning stages on this.

Ken (IBM) … Value capture is always a difficult job. Have tried different licensing models, eg, per CPU, per user, internal vs. external. Have some other licensing terms for enterprise layers. Have experienced this as an issue with traditional ERP applications. Just note that vendors respond to customers.

Categories: Conference Notes