Channel Marker

April 28, 2008  2:52 PM

ISVs: One stack or two?

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

If you’re an ISV in the era of Saas vs. on-premise delivery models, the stack question has never been bigger.

If you’re going the on-premises route for your applications you must weigh the whole Java/Eclipse vs. .Net/Windows issue. If you’re going to SaaS, there are SaaS-based alternatives including’s heavily touted environment to be considered.

Narinder Singh, founder of Appirio, says it’s cheaper and less risky to use someone else’s already-built-and-tested services stack to build and field your own software services. He’s cast his lot with and Google toward that end. Singh was a featured speaker on’s recent ‘Tour de force’ road show, so his preference is understandable.

At the Boston event last week,  Singh said Appirio saved $300,000 to $500,000 last year in IT costs alone by using  (and Google infrastructure) as a foundation. It’s not coincidental that Appirio’s services–a CRM dashboard, calendar synchronization, online storage, are for and Google universes.

The company, now up to 60 employees from ten or 15 a few years ago, uses exactly zero servers for development. It has no servers at all. Singh estimates that the company’s entire IT spend (not including laptops) is in the “hundreds of dollars per year per user.” That includes $50 per user per year for Google apps, $40 per user per year for the platform license. Oh, and “we give everyone Microsoft Office” because they have to work with outsiders. So that’s probalby the biggest chunk of change outside the laptop. Appirio uses its own internal builds for recruiting, HR at very low cost compared to what he said could be $6,000 to $12,000 per user if SAP were used. (Singh used to be with SAP).

So Appirio gets all that foundational stuff and doesn’t even get a cut of the action on Appirio’s sales. Hmm. Guess the upside for is platform credibility and more application choices in its stable.

But Singh also says partners on side of the fence can win deals by saving corporate customers significant money. He cited one unnamed Midwestern company that evaluated a Microsoft Dynamics on premises financial solution and a competitor for about 1,000 users. The Microsoft software and services would have been over $4 million. The winning deal came in at between $1.2 and $1.5 million — roughly a third the cost.

The burning question then becomes whether that’s enough money for a services partner. “It’s enough for us to make money. It’s not clear whether it’s enough for Accenture,” Singh said. Accenture is a large services partner often aligned with Microsoft.

Another featured partner paints a more nuanced picture because the ISV, Coda Financials, is both a Microsoft Gold ISV partner and a fairly new partner. It’s upcoming on-demand financial services software, coda2go, build on, will launch in June.

The speed of development was fairly dizzying using, said Coda CTO Jeremy Roche. “From the minute we committed [to building the app services]  to cutting the actual application took three weeks. Now Coda’s been writing finance systems for 30 years so we know what we’re trying to do in terms of business requirements, but that’s still pretty fast.”

There was some retraining for developers in Apex vs. Java although even that learning curve was short because’s Apex supports the Eclipse IDE which most of its developers already know.

Coda will continue to work with Microsoft for its on-premises implementations. But as a point of comparison, the company runs something like 356 servers for development of its Microsoft-based on-premise financial software compared to no servers for

Of course, with its mesh strategy, Microsoft will no doubt come up with a development platform for SaaS rather than the ad hoc toolsets it now offers, but no one expects deliverables any time soon.

Coda2go users will need a license or Coda will OEM with but again, doesn’t get a piece of each sale.

Roche says the mixed stack mirrors his customer base. Some businesses are “actively moving to on demand. Some aren’t.” For companies wanting to deploy a a mix of both models, Coda will supply a connector to link on-premise and on-demand iterations.

Barbara Darrow can be reached at

April 27, 2008  5:56 PM

Microsoft’s Google goggles

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

It’s Sunday and it appears that Yahoo has let Microsoft’s “take our offer or else” ultimatum pass without action.

By now everyone knows that those at the top of Microsoft are obsessed with Google. What’s unclear is if that power structure will be able to do to that market dominator what a Microsoft was able to do years ago to previous rivals: Companies like Lotus, Novell, and Netscape.

Maybe not. With all respect to Steve Ballmer, Ray Ozzie, et al., Microsoft is exhibiting some of the same behaviors that led to the demise of its previous rivals. Namely, they appear obsessed with a competitor to such an extent that they may be missing other opportunities.

Novell owned the file-and-print then network operating system business. It built the best partner channel in technology. But Ray Noorda became obsessed with Bill Gates et al. So much so that Novell management took its eye of the prize. One could argue the same affliction affected Lotus’ Jim Manzi. Excel chipped away at 1-2-3 dominance As for Netscape, well; Microsoft spent billions building its own browser then gave it away. Bye bye Netscape.

Now Microsoft is focused on Google’s Internet search and ad business, but after many years and multiple billions it has thus far been unable to make itself credible. The Yahoo bid convinces some that it’s given up on fighting Google with its own technology and resources.

You have to wonder if the Google obsession has kept Microsoft from executing well both on its cash cows (Vista, Office 2007 etc.) and in new arenas beyond Web search etc.

So an interesting question is whether Steve Ballmer is the new Ray Noorda?

You tell me. Post comment below or send email to

April 24, 2008  12:44 PM

Salesforce switcheroo: Dumping Windows for Mac?

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow is reportedly dumping its Windows machines (Dell Windows machines, to be more precise) for Macs on the next corporate upgrade. This post, found by my office pal Colin Steele, has all makings of a great story The blogger, an iPhone developer and thus probably not the most neutral of observers, called his own source “impeccable.” could not be reached for comment, but the tidbit, if true, is a juicy part of a much larger narrative.

[Update: No sooner was the publish button hit than CEO Marc Benioff responded by email: “Employees can choose whatever they want pc or mac or blackberry for that matter. all of our servers are Dell, however. My opinion is the client is a commodity.”]

Early in its history, the SaaS trailblazer touted its “tight” integration with Microsoft Outlook, blah blah blah. Not so anymore. Especially since Microsoft started beating the drum about its CRM Live/CRM Online whatever, which is now available. is now blaring about its tight integration with Google Apps. Google, Benioff reminded Boston attendees, is’s “karmic” ecosystem. As he spoke, he was flanked by a podium running a Dell and a Mac. Hmmmm.

Again, if true, this would make one of the larger enterprise Apple shops.

Mr. Impeccable, a employee, said the reason for shifting 4,000 employees to Macs as the Dells come up for upgrade was: “Security.”

Barbara Darrow can be reached at

April 24, 2008  8:52 AM

Microsoft names technical fellow to head Jim Gray Systems Lab

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

Microsoft has lured David DeWitt, former head of the Univerity of Wisconsin Computer Science Department aboard as a Microsoft Fellow.

He won’t be leaving Badgerland behind: DeWitt will lead the new Microsoft Jim Gray Systems Lab, an advanced development center right there in Madison.

Gray, a respected researcher and database guru, was assumed lost at sea last year after during a solo sailing trip. He was last seen January, 2007 and a wide-ranging, high-tech search was suspended the following month.

Wisconsin’s Computer Science Department has its share of luminary alums including fellow Microsoft Fellows Peter Spiro and Rakesh Agrawal.

DeWitt is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and remains emeritus professor of computer science at the University of Wisconsin.

April 23, 2008  12:26 PM

Google’s new businesses: burritos, pasta and online personals?

Bcournoyer Brendan Cournoyer Profile: Bcournoyer

There’s been a lot of talk about Google’s recent moves into security, productivity applications and CRM. But the Mountain View crew may have some more, um, unique business plans up its sleeves, if the domain names it owns are any indication.

Royal, the official blog of website monitoring company Pingdom, claims to have found “thousands” of .com domain names owned by Google. Some of the more intriguing ones includburritoe:


Some of these names have no apparent logical explanation. It would be nice to know what the secret of burritos is, for example, but I’m skeptical of Google’s expertise in the Mexican food market. Michael ScottAs for paper products, I really don’t think Google will be competing with the likes of Dunder-Mifflin any time soon. And I know some people accuse parents of “using the Internet as a babysitter,” but Google Day Care seems to take that a little too far.

Some other names might give a little more actual insight into Google’s future, however. Does foretell a future partnership with the online auction site? Is another registered name,, a contingency plan in case that partnership falls through?

Google Personals and Google Casino Games could compete with similar services offered by Yahoo — or join forces with them if Yahoo teams with Google to thwart a Microsoft takeover.

And Google Religion … well, let’s hope it doesn’t get that far.

April 22, 2008  10:53 PM

Microsoft puts some meat around mesh

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

At the witching hour, Microsoft is set to post information, including a link to a “limited technology preview” of its promised Live Mesh platform. Info will be posted to the Mesh site.  Here’s Ray Ozzie with Jon Udell.  And here’s Abolade Gbadegesin talking Live Mesh architecture on Channel 9.  Also Channel 10.  And, don’t forget Live Mesh GM Amit Mital’s blog.

Generally, these promised infrastructural services would let your PC, cell phone etc. detect, recognize and interact with each other. The foundation would include unified device management, unified data management, unified application management and centralized management for all your devices.

The preview will be limited to Vista and XP machines to start with Mac and mobile device support to come

Microsoft pledges to make services the core of the platform. Yeah, that sounds like a no-brainer given the heat Microsoft faces from Google, and other SaaS pioneers who beat it to the services punch, but it is nonetheless a key aspirational message from a company built on shrink-wrap software.

Microsoft also promises to use the same APIs on clients and in the all-knowing “cloud.” That sounds like a write-once-run-anywhere promise. (Where have we heard that before?) Also, an extensible data model and flexible application model.

Tomorrow afternoon at Web 2.0, Mital will talk more about the mesh view.

Barbara Darrow can be reached at

April 22, 2008  4:22 PM ‘tour de force’ faces down Microsoft mesh, CRM Online

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

This battle just keeps getting hotter.

Marc Benioff brought the traveling “tour de force” road show to Boston today, complete with live customer and ISV testimonials.

Today was also the day Microsoft went live with CRM Online and is poised to take (at least some of) the wraps off its thus-far-very-vapory Mesh concept. (Does that make this Mesh Eve?)

Microsoft co-opted the mesh concept to connote the underpinnings of Web-connected people and devices. Amit Mital is slated to talk about Microsoft Mesh tomorrow at the Web 2.0 show and Microsoft is supposed to post related video and content tonight at midnight.

What really gets me in all this hoo haw, is speculation that Microsoft may not build its uber-web-computing platform on Windows. Umm, have any of those chatterers ever seen or used Windows? If so, that’s a big “duh.” Not even the great Ray Ozzie can, to borrow a once-favored Microsoft phrase, can put lipstick on that particular chicken.

No kidding, Microsoft has to come up with something new. And real

Benioff scooted out of the Boston event before he could be asked in person about these things. But he ain’t buying that Microsoft’s might means victory in SaaS. Asked by email to respond to the impending Meshiness (and also to Microsoft’s bundling of 5 GB of storage with basic CRM Online compared to 1 GB for, here is his response:

“After a decade of using their monopoly to stop saas innovation through false prophecy and rhetoric; Microsoft has relented by delivering a service that is still too little too late without the platform as a service customers are demanding to succeed.

Microsoft’s answer to platform as a service is just more .net software in a world where cloud computing negates their monopolistic control of the Windows desktop.

Microsoft has let us all down through their lack of innovation; fortunately, the SaaS and PaaS movements will finally release us all from their old software models and outdated business practices.

We offer customer pricing of our services and storage for our customers through our global sales force and partner organization on a per agreement basis.”

Oh, and the inevitable, “aloha.”

So,, which famously pioneered the Software-as-a-Service model is pushing hard to become a power in platforms. So is Google. So is Amazon. So is eBay. That sounds very much like Microsoft’s raison d’etre.

Microsoft meanwhile has to build credibility in “the cloud” with this mesh thing.

Can you say collision course?

This is gonna be good.

Barbara Darrow can be reached at

April 22, 2008  1:42 PM

Dell channel blog in the works

Bcournoyer Brendan Cournoyer Profile: Bcournoyer

Dell is coming out with a blog specifically devoted to its fledgling partner program.

Dell’s small business community manager, Kelly Curnow, made the announcement on The VAR Guy blog, during a discussion in the comments section about Dell’s channel approach. The “dedicated channel blog” is due within the next month, Curnow said.

Blogs are an increasingly common way for vendors to reach out to partners and keep them in the proverbial loop on new training programs, rebates and discounts, channel events and other news. For Dell, the blog will probably take on a PR role as well, as the company tries to win over partners skeptical of its direct sales history. Dell just launched its first formal channel program, PartnerDirect, in December.

April 18, 2008  10:21 AM

Ozzie, Ballmer speak to MVPs

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

If you’re not a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional but want to know what CEO Steve Ballmer and chief software architect Ray Ozzie had to say to MVPs, Microsoft has posted transcripts of their Thursday remarks.

Barbara Darrow can be reached at

April 17, 2008  11:48 PM

Putting a price on the green IT services opportunity

Heather Clancy Heather Clancy Profile: Heather Clancy

Slowly but surely, some of the big high-tech vendors have started pulling their channel partners into their “green technology” efforts. As Barbara Darrow blogged earlier this week, Sun is the latest to put a formal stake in the ground. Actually, honestly, they’re the first high-tech vendor that I can think of that really has made a public effort to include its VARs in this green thing.

So, in case you’re wondering just how much opportunity exists for services related to green technology rationalization, I wanted to share some statistics that were recently released by Forrester Research as part of a report called “The Dawn of Green IT Services.”

First, the bottom line: Forrester believes that overall services related to helping companies rationalize the energy efficiency and sustainability profile of their technology will peak at $4.8 billion in 2013, with roughly half of that spending coming from European businesses. (The services revenue for this year is expected to be around $500 million.) Much like the Y2K wave, green tech services will begin to taper off after this point as the practices become more a standard part of running an IT infrastructure, Forrester concludes. Another note: North America companies will be slower on the uptake than those in Europe, with spending peaking around $2.1 billion in 2013, the firm reports.

You can compartmentalize the opportunity for green tech services into three different buckets: the assessment phase, the planning and development phase, and the implementation phase.

As you might expect, assessments present the shortest-term opportunity, running between two and 10 weeks and costing $30,000 to $100,000. Only about 50 percent of companies will proceed to the next phase: detailed planning. But, Forrester figures that those that do should be willing to spend between $50,000 and $400,000 on roadmaps for any number of initiatives such as server virtualization and consolidation, an enhanced power infrastructure, and more energy-efficient servers and other gear.

Need more convincing that green tech isn’t just a boondoogle?

The big jackpot will go to those VARs and integrators that become involved in making green tech plans become reality. The implementation phases of these projects will take from 30 weeks to more than 100 weeks, according to Forrester. They can cost from $300,000 to $2 million — for the services alone.

By the way, here are some efforts that Forrester considers to crowd under the green IT umbrella:

  • Green procurement policies
  • E-waste recycling
  • Data center optimization
  • Supply chain optimization
  • Building automation projects
  • Collaboration and conferencing initiatives
  • Managed print services

Heather Clancy is a high-tech journalists and strategic communications consultant with SWOT Management Group. She can be reached at

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