A Case for Eating Your Own Dog Food

In a bit of good news for Microsoft Office, a report issued by the Burton Group concludes that deploying Google Apps could be a "career-limiting move" for some enterprise architects if they expect too much from the SaaS-flavored suite.

According to the report, Google Apps can be useful in a "limited set of circumstances" but -- as a "lite" collaboration application -- startups and/or other smaller businesses should use it only for rather basic office and collaboration tasks.

As further evidence of its claim, the report says that even Google itself uses Google Apps internally as only an add-on to Microsoft Office. Yikes.

"Google has caught the attention of enterprises with its inexpensive Google Apps Premier Edition (GAPE) product, available at $50 per user, per year," the Burton Group's Guy Creese writes in the report. "However, the seductive price can spell trouble for enterprise architects and their companies if they don't do their homework: the solution's rudimentary feature set means that enterprises need to pick carefully and implement slowly."

Big Blue Joins Microsoft, Cisco in Unified Communications Fray
Responding to demands for improved unified communications and collaboration technologies -- and the ongoing strategies of Microsoft and Cisco -- IBM announced at the VoiceCon 2007 conference that it will broaden its Lotus Sametime product from a single offering to an entire family of products. Big Blue has plans to deliver a range of community broadcast tools that will let users share their knowledge in real time.

The new suite of tools, called the Sametime "Unified Telephony," is designed to offer businesses a better way to craft specific communication solutions involving telephone systems, mobile devices, e-mail, instant messaging and video conferencing products with back-end systems, company officials claimed in a press briefing yesterday.

The suite is based, in part, on Siemens OpenScape technology. It will make it possible for users to manage incoming calls, see who's available to communicate and how best to reach them, connect with co-workers more quickly, and hook up with a variety of legacy servers.

No need to get overly excited about the upcoming Sametime "Unified Telephony" offering right now, though; it's expected to be available in mid-2008, with pricing to be announced much closer to its availability. Lotus Sametime Standard software is expected to be available in the fourth quarter of 2007, while the Lotus Sametime Entry and Advanced offerings are expected to be available during the first half of 2008.

Also at VoiceCon 2007, IBM announced its acquisition of WebDialogs Inc., a small company based in Billerica, Mass. that specializes in Web conferencing and communications services. WebDialogs' services combine Web and audio conferencing technologies that company officials claim don't require any support from an IT organization. With the WebDialogs deal, IBM officials believe it now has a SaaS delivery model for -- you guessed it -- its Sametime family of products.

Microsoft Shines a Silverlight on Tafiti
Hoping to get some early feedback from the market for two key technologies, Microsoft has launched what it's calling an "experimental" Web site to test out both Internet-based search and Silverlight.

Called "Tafiti," the Swahili word for "do research," the site is providing a platform for the combination of Microsoft's Live Search with a rather different-looking interface that was created using Silverlight.

Redmond's Silverlight technology, launched just a few months ago, offers a way for developers to embed multimedia graphics within browsers. Live Search is, of course, Microsoft's search engine going up against that of market leader Google.

The aim of Tafiti, which was worked on by both Microsoft and the Seattle-based design firm Jackson Fish Market, is to help people organize and carry out research for projects that require searching for various topics from a wide range of resources, including Web pages, books and even images.

The overall search experience presented by Tafiti is similar to the look and feel of Windows Vista. That's due, in part, to Silverlight being based on the Windows Presentation Foundation, the graphical subsystem also found in Vista.

As an example of how it works, Microsoft officials said once a search topic is entered, the results come up in the center of the screen. Users can then drag and drop the searches they want to a search shelf on the right-hand side of the screen; those searches can be stacked on top of one another. When a user clicks on the notepad with the saved searches, they appear in the center of the screen on graphics that look like torn pieces of paper. Users can then create a link to the page in a blog through the "blog it" command, for example, or e-mail the Web site to someone through the "e-mail-it" command.

Tafiti works with Windows Vista and Windows XP service pack 2, and can be accessed through Internet Explorer (versions 6 and 7) and Mozilla Firefox (1.5.0.8 and 2.0).

Put Off by Offshoring? Hard To Tell
A new survey released this week by CNET shows a growing ambivalence among those in the IT industry toward offshoring.

About 33 percent of respondents -- a slight increase compared with last year's number -- said they agree or strongly agree with the statement, "I feel that offshoring is a threat to my current job." However, in a somewhat contradictory finding, the number of people who don't view offshoring as a threat dipped to 41 percent from 44 percent.

Further clouding the results, some 23 percent said they weren't sure if offshoring represented a threat to their current jobs, a rise of 6 percentage points over the 2004 results.

In another result, about 63 percent of respondents said they either agree or strongly agree that IT jobs requiring business skills are less likely to be sent overseas than jobs involving only technical skills.

Mailbag: Is Sun Gunning for Microsoft?
On Monday, Doug reported on Google's decision to give away Sun's StarOffice software -- setting up a possible challenge to Microsoft Office. Here's what one reader thinks about the move:

Did anyone really consider that [Sun CEO] Scott McNealy would bury the hatchet? He is as bitter today as he ever was because Microsoft beat him out of the server market. Now that Microsoft has made peace with him, Sun is returning to profitability and is actually coming out with some new, really good server hardware.

Mr. McNasty is returning to his old habits of striking at anything with the name "Microsoft" on it. Once a snake, always a snake.
-Bernie

Got something to add? Let us have it! Leave a comment below or send an e-mail to escannell@redmondmag.com.

About the Author

Ed Scannell is the editor of Redmond magazine.

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