Microsoft Not Honest? Shocker from Sage Exec

October 31, 2009

I was stunned to read about trust in the enterprise software business. Navigate to “Sage Channel Chief: Microsoft Lost Touch With Partners”. I don’t know if this article is spot on, but it is great snack food for a water cooler chat  break. The article is based in part on a discussion with a former Microsoft executive, Tom Miller. Mr. Miller shared some of his impressions about Microsoft’s interaction with partners, contrasting the Redmond approach with the path Great Plains (a company Microsoft acquired). For me, the key passage was:

If you really look at Great Plains, we didn’t always do everything right but we did develop trust because we were always, always honest, and if we made a mistake we admitted it and corrected it. And we had that relationship built. Many of the partners we recruited during that period of time are still there and still totally committed. However, that philosophy is gone from Microsoft. It is no more a personal touch.

There are other nuggets in the article. I will leave it to you to unearth them. My hunch is that Google’s partner ramp up may be aided if Mr. Miller is correct. Damage control time in my opinion. Wow, trust. Interesting concept.

Stephen Arnold, October 31, 2009

Department of Defense Dallies with Open Source

October 31, 2009

The DoD is a SharePoint bastion. Don’t get me started on the cost, complexity, and confusion that swirls around some SharePoint solutions. Check out “DoD: Military Needs to Think Harder about Using Open Source.” Either Google is a lucky beast or someone in the DoD is focused on giving Microsoft indigestion. For me, the most interesting comment in the write up was:

"The continuous and broad peer-review enabled by publicly available source code supports software reliability and security efforts through the identification and elimination of defects that might otherwise go unrecognized by a more limited core development team," the document says. "The unrestricted ability to modify software source code enables the Department to respond more rapidly to changing situations, missions, and future threats."

How far will the DoD open source push go? My hunch is that progress will be impeded by incumbent software vendors. The Google will be patient in my opinion. Cost control is a looming issue in these tough economic times.

Stephen Arnold, October 31, 2009

A colonel got me a  Diet Coke on a Southwest flight not long ago. Disclosure, dear FDA, disclosure.

TNR and Cloud Based Enterprise Search

October 31, 2009

I received a story called “Enterprise Search & Cloud Computing – A Match Made in Heaven and Implemented on Earth by TNR Global”. I did a quick check of my Overflight search files and noted that earlier this year, TNR reported that it was a vendor offering the Fast ESP search solution. For me the key point in the write up was:

Organizations face managing terabytes, petabytes, even exabytes of both structured and unstructured data.  The combination of cloud computing and enterprise search technologies provides viable solutions for companies looking to scale their intranets and public websites. To stay focused on their core business, companies often look for third party technology providers to guide them in the move to cloud based applications and storage. To meet this need, TNR Global, a cloud computing systems and enterprise search integrator, has launched a dynamic new website to help guide content intensive companies. 

This is a bold assertion in my opinion. I don’t know enough about the company, so I visit the firm’s enterprise search Web log and note the following three stories:

  1. A better way to add or update MySQL rows
  2. MySQL error BLOB/TEXT used in key specification without a key length
  3. Fast ESP overview.

I zoom to Fast ESP overview and the entire write up is not particularly convincing, particularly in regard to the “cloud”, “heaven”, and “exabytes” words ringing in my ears. Here’s the company’s take on the downsides of Fast ESP:

Well, if the data you need to make searchable has a format that changes frequently, that might be a pain. ESP has something called an “Index Profile” which is basically a config file it uses to determine what document fields are important and should be used for indexing. Everything fed into ESP is a “document”, even if your loading database table rows into it. Each document has several fields, typical fields being: title, body, keywords, headers, document vectors, processing time, etc. You can specify as many of your own custom fields as you wish.

Yep. In the three editions of the Enterprise Search Report that I wrote (2004 to 2006) and my Beyond Search study for the Gilbane Group (2008), I noted some other hitches in the Fast  ESP git along.

I will keep my eye on TNR because I am insufficiently informed to offer much of a goosely observation about this company’s exabyte capable, cloud based enterprise search solution. Exabytes. That’s a lot of data to shove around even within an organization. Distributing this stuff is non trivial in my opinion. Maybe TNR has a solution?

Stephen Arnold, October 31, 2009

Google Open Source or Open Divorce for Android

October 31, 2009

Laptop Magazine, a publication I once read in airport newsstands, ran a story that plopped into my RSS basket this afternoon (October 30, 2009). “Networks in Motion: Google Attacking Developer Community, Android Openness Total BS” nibbled on an important information Snickers bar. Mark Spoonauer’s story reported:

According to him [Steve Andler, vp marketing for Networks in Motion], the free Google Maps for Navigation Beta is the second time devs have been burned by Google. Latitude was the first shot across the bow when it got added to Google Maps, leaving the likes of Loopt scrambling to justify their relevance. It’s obviously in Andler’s best interest to defend Networks in Motion and the work that they do in the GPS space, but given his experience in the PC industry–including at Toshiba, Fujitsu, and Apple–he brings an interesting perspective to the debate over whether Google may be biting the hands that feed Android. Check out the interview and decide for yourself.

The balance of the article is the text of an interview with Mr. Andler. Please, read the full interview.

Let’s assume that the opinion of Mr. Andler is spot on. Will Google find itself in more hot water? Seems likely. The open source world may not be the happy campers at Google’s next developer picnic.

Stephen Arnold, October 31, 2009

The person who was to buy me lunch today forgot. I would have counted that free lunch as payment for this opinion piece.

Treat from an Online Search

October 30, 2009

I am making my way from the frozen wilds of Canada to the comfort of Harrods Creek. I ran a query on the Courier Journal’s Web site and spotted this news item. (Yes, I know the site is almost unusable, but that’s not my problem, gentle reader.) I cannot resist sharing it with my two or three readers.

Navigate to the story “Nord’s Long Johns Will Lure Bacon Fans.” Read the article and consider your own breakfast fare. A pastry with a strip of bacon. Now that’s Kentucky kuisine.

Stephen Arnold, October 20, 2009

Obviously no one in his or her right mind would pay me for an article with the word “kuisine” in it.

Social Media Search

October 30, 2009

Social Media Accounts for 18% of Information Search Market” is an interesting summary of social search data. I take these types of data roundups with a dose of cod liver oil, but you may find the info tasty in their native form. What struck me as important is that social search has emerged as a specific type of search. Nothing like the provenance of info from a friend who may or may not know what the heck he / she is talking about. But in today’s world that’s close enough for horseshoes, just like these statistics.

Stephen Arnold, October 30, 2009

No one I know is sufficiently clueless to pay me for writing this item.

XML Primer

October 30, 2009

A happy quack to the reader who sent me this link for an XML primer. The goslings are XML savvy, and I wanted to pass this link along to our readers. The story was “XML for the Absolute Beginner”, and it appeared in JavaWorld. Useful.

Stephen Arnold, October 29, 2009

No dough, so?

Educational Publishers, The Google Is Here

October 30, 2009

Google has been making baby steps into the education market. Its enterprise group has been landing sales in universities and in public schools in New South Wales. The Google has a tie up with IBM to goose (no pun intended) computer science majors into coding for massively parallel, distributed systems. Wave is splashing against some educational rocks. Google’s neighbor (NASA) is in the university business with Google and some other interesting partners. If you are not familiar with Singularity University, you may want to read the Wikipedia write up. Finally, for those really behind the curve, watch the videos on Google Video.

Now with some context, you can appreciate the story in the Los Angeles Times on October 28, 2009. “Google Co Founder Sergey Brin Wants More Computers in Schools”. The article included a passage I found interesting:

He [Brin] advocated putting all textbooks on computers, to make for easier access, and for putting high school students to work — writing Wikipedia articles, and teaching technology to senior citizens and middle school students. In teaching, they will learn. Brin spoke today at a conference on Google’s campus, Breakthrough Learning in the Digital Age, which the tech company is co-hosting with Common Sense Media and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop. By and large, speakers passionately spoke of the advantages of equipping schools with the latest in digital technology, and of engaging students on their home turf — computers. Google has been relatively quiet in the field of education, but the company is starting to make a splash.

In my Google: The Digital Gutenberg I describe some use cases for Google as an educational ecosystem. What I find interesting is that if I were teaching a class in computer science, I would require no other resources than those available from Google. If I were a publisher of computer science textbooks, I would be asking, “Hmm, what’s my Plan B?” I discuss the business implications in my monograph.

Google’s method is to seep and surround. Once the ground is watered and fertile, new businesses grow. If you think Google’s end game is to scan library books and sell ads with some Web search functions, you are misreading the rather clear writing on the Googleplex’s big white board.

Stephen Arnold, October 30, 2009

The Google once gave me a mouse pad. Does that count as a pay off for explaining how Google will reshape education? I think not but the Railway Retirement Board may, hence the disclosure.

Differentiation: The New Enterprise Search Barrier

October 30, 2009

I don’t know one tree from another. When someone points out a maple and remarks that it is a sugar maple, I have no clue about a maple and even less information about a sugar maple. A lack of factual foundation means that I know nothing about trees. Sure, I know that most trees are green and that I can cut one down and burn it. But I don’t own a chain saw, so that general information means zero in the real world.

Now consider the clueless minions who have to purchase an enterprise search system. The difference between my tree knowledge and their search knowledge is easy to point out. Both of us are likely to become confused. To me, trees look alive. To the search procurement team, search systems look alike.

I received an announcement about a search system (nameless, of course) which asserted:

[The vendor’s product] is the first mobile enterprise search server to enable secure ‘anywhere’ access to data that resides across all information sources, including individual desktops, email stores, file shares, external sites and enterprise applications. Leveraging the [vendor’s product] Enterprise Server as its backbone, [the vendor’s product] Anywhere is capable of delivering secure, immediate access to any browser-enabled device, from an iPhone to a Blackberry and beyond.

I find that this write up is * very * similar to the Coveo email search solution, which has one of its features as mobile access plus a number of other bells and whistles.

I can document many other similarities in the way in which search vendors describe their products. In fact, I identified a phrase first used by Endeca in 2003 or 2004 as a key element in Microsoft’s marketing of its SharePoint search systems. My recollection is the phrase in question is “user experience.” Endeca may have snagged it somewhere just as Mozart plucked notes from his contemporaries.

Confusion among search vendors is easy. Many recycle words, phrases, and buzzwords, hoping that their spin will win customers. One thing is certain. Vendors have the azure chip consultants in a tizzy. One prominent azure chip outfit in New York has pegged Google a laggard and a product that has yet to make its appearance as a leader.

Procurement teams? Baffled for sure. Differentiation is needed, but it doesn’t come by recycling another vendor’s marketing collateral or relying on the azure chip crowd to cook up a new phrase to baffle the paying customers, or some of the paying customers.

Vendors, differentiate. Don’t imitate.

Stephen Arnold, October 30, 2009

A former Ziffer bought me dinner this week. Does that count as compensation? I deserve more.

Microsoft and Yahoo Redo

October 30, 2009

I read “Microsoft and Yahoo Delay Signing Search Deal” and heard Yogi Berra say, “It’s déjà vu all over again”. Why am I not surprised. The post deal melt down deal involved no cash but lots of “goodwill”. How did Silicon Alley Insider learn about the “delay”? Yahoo disclosed this item in an SEC filing. Hmmm. Subtle on Yahoo’s part but not sufficiently subtle for Nicholas Carlson, who noticed the item. He wrote:

We reached out to Yahoo and got back a statement that sounds almost exactly like the SEC filing: “’Microsoft and Yahoo! are committed to this agreement and believe this is a highly competitive deal that is good for consumers, advertisers and publishers.  We have made good progress in finalizing the definitive agreements. Given the complex nature of this transaction there remain some issues that need some additional clarity and definitive details. So, the teams at Yahoo! and Microsoft are continuing to work on the remaining details, and we have mutually agreed to extend the period to negotiate and execute the agreement.  We plan to do this as expeditiously as possible.  Both companies are optimistic that we will be able to close this deal by early 2010.’”

Actions speak louder than words. Top line revenue growth or the lack thereof speak even more loudly. Google must be giggling in the Googleplex. With each day that passes, the gap between Google and its competitors increases. Ask.com seems to be crying, “Uncle.” As I said in 2007 much to the annoyance of a 20-something, “Game over in Web search.”

Next up for Microsoft and Yahoo? Real time search. Google is lagging in this sector. Maybe that’s the future for Yahoo?

Stephen Arnold, October 30, 2009

No gifts on my Halloween skeleton for this article.

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