Curated for content, computing, and digital experience professionals

Month: March 2010 (Page 2 of 3)

pTools Adds Social Media Content Distribution

pTools, a Content Management Software (CMS) provider, announced the addition of a range of embedded social media and networking features to its software. From within the pTools CMS, social media content can be re-distributed in many formats to other social networks and sites. A key feature is ‘TwitterDocs’, which allows users to post to Twitter as they publish content through the CMS. There is no need to separately login to Twitter, and the content-related Tweet is controlled and managed within the CMS and its workflows. In addition to Twitter, content can be presented on Facebook, LinkedIn, and indexed in live search engine results with no tweaking required.

VYRE and Wave2 Announce Partnership

VYRE Ltd, developer of the VYRE Unify content management system, announced a strategic partnership with publishing software specialist Wave2 Media Solutions Ltd. The two companies have signed an original equipment manufacturer agreement for VYRE to license the Wave2 Publishing Platform for integration within VYRE Unify. The Wave2 Publishing Platform is a rules engine that allows content providers to create their own advertising and marketing material. VYRE is integrating The Wave2 Publishing Platform into its next release of VYRE Unify version 4.5.1. VYRE Unify 4.5.1 will be available in spring 2010.

Planning your agenda for the upcoming Gilbane conference

We are very pleased to have Jeremiah Owyang and Daniel W. Rasmus in our opening keynote session this year as we announced yesterday. Both have been very popular with our audiences is the past: Jeremiah, on last year’s analyst panel in San Francisco, and Dan as an opening keynote a few years ago in Paris at our (since sold) Documation event. If you can join us this year in SF you won’t want to miss them 8:30-10:00am, Wednesday, May 19th.

The conference program is mostly complete with just a few more speaker confirmations to go, so you can start planning your agenda anytime. The conference program tracks this year are largely role based, rather than technology based. This is a result of input from our attendees, as well as from our exhibitors. In both cases, this is a reflection of the ubiquity and maturity of many web and content technologies – attendees want to know which of these apply to their own specific requirements, and vendors continue to specialize to differentiate themselves in a very crowded market. One result, of our approach is that technology topics can be sprinkled across mutiple tracks – social software, for example. In order to build a relevant customized agenda, you will want to read about all of the conference sessions, but here is some role-based advice to get you started quickly:

If you are in marketing, or responsible for a public website, start with the Customers & Engagement track, and then fill in with sessions from the Content Technology and Content Publishing tracks.

If you are an Information Manager, Knowledge Manager, line of business manager or Project Manager, start with the Collaboration & Colleagues track and then fill in with sessions from the Customers & Engagement, Content Technology and Content Publishing tracks.

If you are a Technologist or in IT, focus on the Content Technology track, and then add sessions from the other three tracks to see what your customers are trying to accomplish with the technology.

If you’re in corporate or commercial publishing, check out the Publishing track and build a program around the Content Technology and Customers & Engagement track.

And don’t forget the in-depth conference workshops.

Filtering Microblogging and Activity Streams

The use of microblogging and activity streams is maturing in the enterprise. This was demonstrated by recent announcements of enhancements to those components in two well-regarded enterprise social software suites.

On February 18th, NewsGator announced a point release to its flagship Enterprise 2.0 offering, Social Sites 3.1. According to NewsGator, this release introduces the ability for individuals using Social Sites to direct specific microblogging posts and status updates to individuals, groups, and communities. Previously, all such messages were distributed to all followers of the individual poster and to the general activity stream of the organization. Social Sites 3.1 also introduced the ability for individuals to filter their activity streams using “standard and custom filters”.

Yesterday (March 3rd), Socialtext announced a major new version of its enterprise social software suite, Socialtext 4.0. Both the microblogging component of Socialtext’s suite and its stand-along microblogging appliance now allow individuals to broadcast short messages to one or more groups (as well as to the entire organization and self-selected followers.) Socialtext 4.0 also let individuals filter their incoming activity stream to see posts from groups to which they belong (in addition to filtering the flow with the people and event filters that were present in earlier versions of the offering.)

The incorporation of these filters for outbound and incoming micro-messages are an important addition to the offerings of NewsGator and Socialtext, but they are long overdue. Socialcast has offered similar functionality for nearly two years and Yammer has included these capabilities for some time as well (and extended them to community members outside of an organization’s firewall, as announced on February 25th.) Of course, both Socialcast and Yammer will need to rapidly add additional filters and features to stay one step ahead of NewsGator and Socialtext, but that represents normal market dynamics and is not the real issue. The important question is this:

What other filters do individuals within organizations need to better direct microblogging posts and status updates to others, and to mine their activity streams?

I can easily imagine use cases for location, time/date, and job title/role filters. What other filters would be useful to you in either targeting the dissemination of a micro-message or winnowing a rushing activity stream?

One other important question that arises as the number of potential micro-messaging filters increases is what should be the default setting for views of outgoing and incoming messages? Should short bits of information be sent to everyone and activity streams show all organizational activity by default, so as to increase ambient awareness? Perhaps a job title/role filter should be the default, in order to maximize the focus and productivity of individuals?

There is no single answer other than “it depends”, because each organization is different. What matters is that the decision is taken (and not overlooked) with specific corporate objectives in mind and that individuals are given the means to easily and intuitively change the default target of their social communications and the pre-set lens through which they view those of others.

Alfresco Announces Beta of Cloud ECM for SMB

Alfresco Software announced a Beta program for Alfresco SMB Edition, a cloud-based appliance designed for Amazon EC2. This new version of Alfresco Software’s ECM and social collaboration product is designed for small and medium-sized businesses (SMB). The Alfresco SMB Edition will offer a pre-configured Alfresco Cloud appliance that combines the Alfresco server, Explorer and Share modules into an on-demand offering aimed at SMBs with up to 100 users and 200GB of document storage. These appliances are hosted on Amazon EC2 and made available as paid Amazon Machine Images (AMIs). Alfresco has partnered with JumpBox, who specialize in building software appliances, to develop Alfresco SMB. Initially the beta will be restricted to US based subscribers with EU access to follow within two weeks. The program includes access to the Alfresco SMB paid AMI, although testers are expected to pay all relevant Amazon EC2 hosting fees. The Beta program will run from March 15 through May 20, 2010.

Atex Acquires Kaango

Kaango, a web classified advertisement software platform, has joined the Atex global family of companies. As part of a deal that keeps Hearst Corporation and MediaNews Group as shareholders. Atex plans to expand Kaango worldwide. Kaango, which launched in 2006, provides a Web-based software platform to syndicate and publish print and online classified ads. A key feature of Kaango websites is they do not send users clicking away to unknown sites to view and interact with ads. This allows Kaango’s media partners to provide large ad volumes and a consistent user experience within each marketplace. Kaango also supports social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook as well as cross-posting to multiple Twitter accounts to support individual publishers. Atex will offer the Kaango service and brand to non-Atex sites as well as Atex’s current client base, as well as integrating Kaango technology within Atex’s advertising and Web content management systems.

New Gilbane Beacon on High-Volume Data Challenges

We’ve published a new paper on addressing large-scale integration, storage, and access of complex information. As Dale mentions in his entry over on our main blog, the paper frames the discussion in terms of challenges to Open Government initiatives. We note, though, that the exploration of obstacles to effective, efficient processing of high volumes of data and content is relevant across many industries.

We’re cross-posting here on the XML blog because the paper deals wtih XML content and the XML family of standards, including XQuery and XPath.

The Gilbane Beacon is available as a free download from Gilbane and from Mark Logic, sponsor of the paper.

Forecasting Software Product Abandonment

Given the announcement from Microsoft that it would make 2010 releases of Fast on Linux and UNIX the last for these operating systems, a lot of related comments have appeared over the past few weeks. For those of us who listened intently to early commentary on the Fast acquisition by Microsoft about its high level of commitment to dual development tracks, it only confirms what many analysts suspected would happen. Buyers rarely embrace their technology acquisitions solely (or even primarily) for the technology.

While these 2010 releases of Fast ESP on UNIX and Linux will continue to be supported for ten years, and repositories are projected to be indexable on these two platforms by future Fast releases, some customers will opt out of continuing with Fast. As newer and more advanced search technologies support preferred operating systems, they will choose to move. Microsoft probably expects to retain most current customers for the time being – inertia and long evaluation and selection processes by enterprises are on their side.

This recent announcement did include a small aside questioning whether Microsoft would continue to offer a standalone search engine outside of its SharePoint environment where the Fast product has been embedded and leveraged first. It sounds like the short term plan is to continue with standalone ESP, but certainly no long term commitment is made.

So, whatever stasis/constancy pre-Microsoft Fast customers were feeling sanguine about, it is surely being shaken around. Let’s take a look at some reasons that vendors abandon their acquisitions. First we need to consider why companies add products through acquisition in the first place. A simple list looks like this:

  1. Flat sales
  2. Need to penetrate a growth market or industry
  3. Desire to demonstrate strength to its existing customer base by acquiring a high-end brand name
  4. Need for technology, IP, and expertise
  5. Desire to expand the customer base, quickly

While item 1 probably was not a contributor to the Microsoft Fast acquisition, 2 and 3 certainly factored into their plan. Fast was “the” brand and had become synonymous in the marketplace with “enterprise search leader.” Surely Microsoft considered the technology IP and key employees that they would be acquiring, and having a ready-made customer-base and maintenance revenue stream would be considerations, too.
Customers do have reasons to be nervous in any of these big acquisitions, however. Here is what often get exposed and revealed once the onion is peeled:

  • Game changing technology is playing havoc in the marketplace; in search there are numerous smaller players with terrific technologies, more nimble and innovative development teams with rigorous code control mentalities, and the experience of having looked at gaps in older search technologies.
  • Cost of supporting multiple code bases is enormous, so the effort of developing native support on multiple platforms becomes onerous.
  • For any technology, loss of technical gurus (particularly when there has been a culture of loose IP control, poor capture of know-how, and limited documentation) will quickly drive a serious reality check as the acquirer strives to understand what it has bought.
  • Brand name customers may not stick around to find out what is going to happen, particularly if the product was on the path to being replaced anyway. Legacy software may be in place because it is irreplaceable or simply due to the neglect of enterprises using it. It may be very hard for the acquiring buyer to determine which situation is the case. A change of product ownership may be just the excuse that some customers need to seek something better. Customers understand the small probability of having a quick and smooth integration of a just-acquired product into the product mix of a large, mature organization.
  • A highly diverse customer base, in many vertical markets, with numerous license configuration requirements for hardware and operating system infrastructures will be a nightmare to support for a company that has always standardized on one platform. Providing customer support for a variety of installation, tuning and on-going administration differences is just not sustainable without a lot of advance planning and staffing.

The Microsoft/Fast circumstance is just an illustration. You might take a look at what is also going on with SAP after its acquisition of Business Objects (BO) in this lengthy analysis at Information Week. In this unfortunate upheaval, BO’s prior acquisition of Inxight has been a particular loss to those who had embraced that fine analytics and visualization engine.

The bottom line is that customers who depend on technology of any kind, for keeping their own businesses running effectively and efficiently, must be aware of what is transpiring with their most valued vendor/suppliers. When there is any changing of the guardians of best-of-breed software tools, be prepared by becoming knowledgeable about what is really under the skin of the newly harvested onion. Then, make your own plans accordingly.

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