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Watching Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates go through the paces during his last Microsoft CEO Summit keynote on May 14, I couldn’t help but ponder again why Microsoft thinks it needs to be both a business and a consumer software vendor.

From May 13 to 15, Microsoft officials are hosting 115+ CEOs from the Global 1000. Topics on the agenda include, according to Microsoft,”decoding financial markets, establishing cultures of execution and exploring how the Internet will evolve over the next five years.

After watching Gates’ Webcast CEO Summit keynote presentation — where he extolled the virtues of SharePoint, unified communications, business intelligence, scorecarding and other topics of interest to business customers — I can’t help but wonder whether Microsoft might have been and will be able to grow its business better by focusing on the arenas it knows best. (And the ones where it has the most customers.)

The wall-size, vertical touch screen (a Microsoft Research-Office Labs joint venture known as “TouchWall”) — which Gates touted as the “whiteboard of the future” — looks a heck of a lot more compelling than the Surface consumer-focused prototypes I’ve seen.

Microsoft undertands ERP, CRM and desktop-productivity software far better than it does gaming consoles, digital media players and consumer-focused mobile-phone services. In fact, I’d throw search-based advertising into the “why is Microsoft here?” category, too. Ad-funding is just one way of offsetting the cost of online services. Microsoft is building a whole family of subscription-based services that it is hosting itself and won’t be cluttering with ads — Exchange online, SharePoint Online, CRM Online, SQL Server Data Services, BizTalk Services, etc.

Tech innovation is coming first and fastest from the consumer, not the business, side of the market, according to Microsoft’s brass and a handful of other tech vendors (most recently, Sun Microsystems, whose execs voiced last week at JavaOne the same sentiment). That’s Microsoft’s main justification for why it’s dabbling in areas where it doesn’t have the right people, technologies and marketing.

But I can’t help but agree with “MattyDread,” who posted on the Silicon Alley Insider blog yesterday (in response to an item on Microsoft’s vs. Google’s monopoly power). MattyDread said:

source=blogs.zdnet.com

The epic forum thread spawned by the CB 1.2 Update article has been a fascinating thing to read.

The thread has been a mix of congratulations to the CB team for its hard work on the upcoming release, along with whining from some users about the long wait until the release. The occasional negative post has been met with irritation from the CB user community as well as the development team. One could argue that this infighting could have been eliminated by not providing the platform for it, as well as not giving a tentative April release date (for Document Subscribers).

But it is hard to argue that the CB Team could have done anything else, the Community Builder extensions for Joomla and Mambo are among the most popular extensions in the world (the CB page on JED has been viewed over half a million times). This level of user-ship is always bound to attract impatience as well as excitement. I encourage you to read the full thread to get the entire picture.

The upside of the epicness of the thread has been that the number of Document Subscribers has seemed to increase dramatically, with the promise of an early RC download being available to subscriber, I include myself in this number

The other advantage has been the increase in communication between the developers and the users. A recent example of this is this quote from Beat:

CB 1.2 is coming with some major new features…

More on those new features after some hours of sleep…

Teaser-Hints:

“No Preference”
“exactly”
“Between”
“Select image”
“Lost username?”

This kind of information is very interesting, but one can’t help but wonder what is gained from such secrecy on such a widely used extension.

Source=http://myjoomlanews.com/

iJoomla.com announced the release of iJoomla Ad Agency version 1.0.6 for Joomla 1.0.x.
iJoomla Ad Agency now includes two ways to spread your banners and gather data:

  • A special module that you can install on any Joomla site, specifying the zone number and the site URL.
  • A piece of code that you can copy from the zone page and add to any web page or newsletter.

This new function and other improvements make iJoomla Ad Agency much more powerful and allows you to use it in any site with just one license. That’s a massive saving of time and money!

souce = http://news.ejoomla.net/

SugarCRM, a provider of commercial open source customer relationship management software, has announced that BT will offer its applications to the communications provider’s business customers in the UK.

BT will resell SugarCRM’s entire portfolio, including Sugar Professional and Sugar Enterprise.

Sugar Professional provides a single view of customer interactions across sales, marketing and service. It offers campaign management, opportunity tracking, account management, sales forecasting and customer support capabilities.

Sugar Enterprise offers enterprise-grade CRM capabilities and scalability. It enables offline client synchronisation, advanced reporting and Oracle database support. Both the applications are available as on-site deployments as well as software-as-a-service (SaaS).

Bill Murphy, managing director of BT Business, said: “We have looked across the market and developed this partnership to meet the needs we know our customers have. This partnership allows us to deliver a tailored approach for customers, so they get exactly what they need to manage their customer relationships, examine processes, deliver efficiencies and ultimately drive their business, all from a single supplier they trust.”

John Roberts, CEO of SugarCRM, said: “The combination of BT’s reach in the UK market and SugarCRM’s CRM solutions makes this a perfect partnership for the UK market. This alliance strengthens our global reach and further exhibits SugarCRM’s momentum as a global provider of business applications.”

The partnership expects to target small and medium businesses by offering the CRM product at an affordable price.

source=http://www.cbronline.com/

KANSAS CITY – A new kind of farm is popping up. Tucked away on small plots on America’s back roads, it cultivates no soil or seed.

Rather, it nurtures curiosities about everything from porn to pinochle expressed in a nearly endless sequence of 1s and 0s queried from desktops, laptops and iPhones around the globe.

The computer server farm – huge banks of computer servers doing the heavy-lifting logic of Internet giants such as Google, Yahoo and Amazon – is bringing bits of Silicon Valley to places like Pryor, Okla., and Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Moving inland means quicker connections by getting closer to customers. Spreading hubs across the continent makes networks more dependable. And tax breaks await. But server farms also guzzle electricity, the way computer technicians gulp Red Bull. The farms are massive, up to football-field-size, buildings filled with racks of servers.

So finding places where the light bill is, well, lighter goes a long way toward pleasing stockholders. “If you can make the machines use power 5 percent more efficiently, that could save tens of millions of dollars,” said Dan Wallach, a computer science professor at Rice University.

Consider Google’s decision to plop down server farms on the outskirts of Pryor and Council Bluffs – the latest expansions from its original hub in California. Both sites come with tax abatements that will save millions. And by sitting 1,000 miles from another new server farm that the company has planted on the banks of the Columbia River in Oregon, the search engine lowers the chances that a West Coast brownout will dash your ability to Google your blind date.

Similarly, diversifying locations makes Google’s network more stable, as sabotage or natural disaster in a single location will have less impact.

Google acknowledges building five server farms – all in cheap-electricity locales – in the United States and dozens around the world.

Last year, a consultant’s report suggested that Columbia could be well positioned to lure a data center.

AngelouEconomics was hired by Regional Economic Development Inc. to determine whether the area would be appealing to companies searching for sites to build the centers. The typical center is 250,000 square feet and has skilled employees that earn an average of $65,000 a year, AngelouEconomics consultants Bob Farley and Danny Klingler said during an October presentation.

The report compared Columbia to Pryor; Quincy, Wash.; Lenoir, N.C.; and Goose Creek, S.C. – communities where data centers exist or are planned. The study looked at the cost of power, disaster risk, labor availability and real estate cost.

Columbia got solid marks for power cost and disaster risk. For labor availability, the area’s population between the ages of 25 and 44 – the most appealing demographic – was 33.5 percent compared with 25 percent to 28 percent for the other communities. The median cost of a house in Columbia of $131,000, however, was the highest among the group but still acceptable, the study said.

At the MidAmerica Industrial Park in Oklahoma, amid a Gatorade plant, a pipe manufacturer and nearly 80 other companies, Google is piecing together a plain-looking 100,000-square-foot building it will stock with servers. Next to the industrial park stands a coal-fired electrical generating plant operated by the Grand River Dam Authority.

It helps that the price is right. Google’s corporate headquarters sit in Mountain View, Calif. The average industrial electrical rate in the Golden State runs about 9 cents per kilowatt hour. In Iowa and Oklahoma, the meter runs at between 4 and 5.5 cents.

“Google is … not the type of industry that is really dependent on location, since its product is Internet-based,” said Justin Alberty, Grand River spokesman. “The real factors in choosing a location tend to be land, water and electricity.”

Server farms, also referred to as data centers by the industry, also are becoming more common with the growth of “cloud computing.” The term refers to companies building massive computing power and then renting that capacity out to other firms. Amazon, for one, sells not just books, but time on its servers to run Web sites or store electronic records.

In that way, computing is starting to look like the next utility. In the same way it would be inefficient for each home to have its own electrical generator, it can make sense for consumers and businesses to farm out their computing needs. Some analysts even see consumers buying less highly powered personal computers in the future and relying on firms like Google to fire up the necessary microprocessors when the demand requires.

Even the Microsoft of Bill Gates, who said just a year ago that “we’re making the” personal computer “the place where it all comes together,” has just launched a data storage and Web software system called Live Mesh. It’s the company’s late entry into cloud computing. Already, Google offers word processing, spreadsheet and slide show programs for free that compete with what Microsoft sells (think Word, Excel and PowerPoint) with its operating systems.

That consolidation of data processing power is becoming a powerful industry trend. Last year, Sun Microsystems unveiled modular units designed for cloud computing and fitted into 20-foot shipping containers. This month, IBM introduced the iDataPlex with claims that it squeezes twice as many computers in the same space as other systems and runs on 40 percent less power.

Server farms can grow huge, consuming up to 100 megawatts of electricity, enough to power more than 20,000 American homes.

With perhaps 100,000 pizza-box-size machines, the buildings are filled with the constant sound of fans blowing over the processors.

Cooling costs – yet more energy consumption – can rival the electricity demand to run the computers.

In that way, even your Google search has a carbon footprint. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that server farms consume at least 1.5 percent of all U.S. energy. “Definitely, there’s no getting around the energy,” said Dan Andresen, an associate professor of computing and information services at Kansas State, where he runs a small-scale server farm. “At the same time, you can think of how many millions of gallons of gas have been saved by people using Google Maps rather than aimlessly driving around.”

Besides electricity, server farms typically require a good water source because the outposts often use water-cooled systems (for a 20 percent energy savings) rather than conventional air conditioning.

Server farms, like their agricultural counterparts, require ever fewer people to produce even more. The facility going up in Council Bluffs will need only 100 workers to tend to thousands of computers that represent a $300 million investment by the company. And it plans to double the facility.

“It’s big,” said Mark Norman of the Council Bluffs Area Chamber of Commerce. “And it’s only getting bigger.”

source=http://www.columbiatribune.com/

A compatibility glitch with the latest versions of Windows has thrust the spotlight onto a little-known product from Microsoft’s Dynamics line for midsize businesses.

Just what is Dynamics RMS?

It’s software that enables specialty retailers to handle cash register functions, process payments, and automate purchasing, inventory and other back-end processes, said Michael Griffiths, the group product manager for the retail part of the Dynamics business.

Dynamics RMS is used to manage about 38,000 different store locations, he said.

Perhaps its most notable customer is the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, who use it to handle all of their merchandising activities, in conjunction with Microsoft’s Dynamics AX product.

Microsoft acquired Dynamics RMS as part of its 2002 acquisition of Southern California-based Sales Management Systems, and it last updated the product in January 2007.

Griffiths said the Dynamics team discovered the issue as part of its testing and realized that the problem could lead to data loss.

“The key issue is, there is a potential for data loss within the RMS solution itself, which is obviously something we wanted to make sure we address immediately,” Griffiths said.

He didn’t offer a specific reason why the company didn’t catch the issue sooner. “It just happened this was the time and place when we did find the issue,” he said.

source = http://www.news.com/

Microsoft’s been dabbling with on-demand software services for awhile, but the general availability of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, beginning Tuesday, marks its most significant effort yet to provide the market with an alternative to Salesforce.com.

The software service for managing a business’s customer contacts, sales information, and marketing efforts is available as a subscription and hosted from Microsoft’s data centers using a multitenant architecture. General availability follows months of testing by 500 Microsoft customers.

Microsoft is trying to beat Salesforce.com on price and storage options. The base version, called Professional, costs $44 per month per user following a one-year introductory rate of $39 per month. That includes 5 GB of data storage per organization and the ability to customize workflows. The Professional Plus version costs $59 per user per month with 20 GB of storage, with more customization features and the ability to synchronize data contained in other systems with the service. Users access the service using Microsoft Outlook or a Web browser as an interface.

By comparison, Salesforce.com’s Professional edition starts at $65 per month per user and comes with 1 GB storage per organization; additional storage costs extra. While many small or midsize businesses won’t even need the minimum of 5 GB of storage offered by Microsoft, “this goes back to our strategy to create a new price-to-value equation,” said Bill Patterson, group product manager of Dynamics CRM.

Salesforce.com has long argued that Dynamics CRM — previously only available as an online subscription through resellers (called Dynamics CRM Live) or as a licensed, on-premise software application — lacks features and functionality offered in its online software. Research firm Gartner ranked Salesfore.com as a leader in its magic quadrant for Salesforce Automation last year, a status it shared only with Oracle Siebel CRM, while Dynamics CRM was ranked as a challenger.

While Dynamics CRM may appeal to Microsoft-centric companies, it lacks some “best-of-breed” functionality and “proof points” that it can integrate well with companies’ SAP and Oracle ERP systems, according to Gartner. That report was based on the analysis of Microsoft’s software prior to an upgrade, Dynamics CRM 4.0, that became generally available in January.

Microsoft’s Patterson argues the company trumps Salesforce.com on some features. Its Professional version, for example, offers 100 custom entities — or objects for defining custom data forms, views, and attributes — and 100 custom workflows, while Professional Plus provides 200 custom entities and 200 workflows. “By comparison, Salesforce.com gives you 50 custom entities and no custom workflows” for the Professional edition, he said. Salesforce.com does offer custom workflows in its Enterprise and Unlimited Editions, starting at $125 per user per month.

source=http://www.informationweek.com/