Salesforce.com Heads Toward the Cloud
Salesforce.com made it clear today that it's not going to be left out of the
cloud computing game. The company announced what it claims is the first
complete set of tools and APIs
to serve as building blocks for creating
applications that exploit cloud computing.
The Force.com development-as-a-service tools and APIs are designed to provide
access to the database, business logic and user interface functions of the Force.com
platform. The new tools will help unite the productivity of development and
IT collaboration tools with the capabilities of the company's Force.com platform-as-a-service.
Force.com development-as-a-service contains the new Force.com metadata API,
the Force.com integrated development environment (IDE), the Force.com Sandbox
and the Force.com Code Share -- all of which are intended to help corporate
and third-party developers build software-as-a-service flavored applications.
"Just as platform-as-a-service provides enterprise IT with a new model
for platforms to run applications in the cloud, development-as-a-service provides
a new model for development tools, giving developers the power to create applications
for the cloud," said Marc Benioff, the chairman and CEO of Salesforce.com,
in a prepared statement. Benioff said he believes the addition of development-as-a-service
to the Force.com platform will help IT accelerate the transition from last-generation
software to the new generation of services.
Company officials hope the new offerings will better enable IT organizations
to do customized application development-as-a-service by way of the Internet,
sidestepping the time and expense involved in deploying and maintaining infrastructure.
Force.com metadata API, Force IDE and Force.com Code Share are now in developer
preview and can be downloaded free of charge at http://developer.force.com.
Force.com Sandbox will come with the Unlimited Edition and is available for
a fee with other editions.
Sun Gets Serious About Open Source
Sun Microsystems is apparently getting serious about entering the open source
market. Real serious. The company slapped down a whopping $1
billion to buy MySQL, maker of one of the most popular open source databases
on the market.
Sun officials must believe MySQL is worth every penny; during a press conference,
Sun CEO and President Jonathan Schwartz called the deal the "most important"
acquisition in Sun's long and storied history.
What Sun buys for its billion, at least for the short term, is entrée
to MySQL's fairly large customer base, where Sun figures to have an excellent
chance to sell its line of hardware. According to Schwartz, about 75 percent
of MySQL installations run on hardware from Sun's major competitors. Approximately
20 percent of them run Sun's Solaris operating system, although the majority
of MySQL databases run on Linux, company executives said. Sun officials said
MySQL, which owns about half of the open source database market, has 400 large
customers, with about 11 million users.
MySQL, which started over 12 years ago, has flourished financially as open
source companies go. The company's business model has been to offer the source
code of its products for free and than charge users for a wide variety of services
and support. Some analysts put its revenues for 2007 in the $50 million range.
The company's database product is part of the open source industry's standard
software stack known as LAMP (Linux, Apache Web Server, MySQL and the PHP language).
Writing in his blog today, Schwartz said his company will offer technical support
for MySQL's customers before the end of the year.
While some industry observers speculated that $1 billion was too much to pay
for MySQL -- despite its position in the open source market -- others believed
it portends good things for open source companies in general because it raises
their overall market value and strategic worth.
The Sun-MySQL deal comes not long after two other acquisitions of open source
companies by more established companies -- namely Citrix, which bought
up XenSource for about $500 million, and Yahoo, which gobbled
up Zimbra for around $350 million.
The two companies announced that MySQL CEO Marten Mickos will become a member
of Sun's senior executive team once the deal closes.
Microsoft Alerts Users to New Excel Vulnerability
More good news for Microsoft users: The company has put out an advisory warning
that hackers have discovered
a vulnerability in Excel and are beginning to exploit it.
Apparently, a soft spot in Excel allows attackers to put together a malicious
document that, when opened, can create havoc on a system. This particular vulnerability,
it seems, has the potential to allow remote code to be executed on a computer.
Translation: This means users are at risk for having their data exposed.
In its advisory, Microsoft appears to be downplaying the potential risks, saying
only that targeted attacks have been seen. The report says the company is investigating
"new public reports" of vulnerabilities in Excel 2003 Service Pack
2, Excel Viewer 2003, Excel 2002, Excel 2000 and Excel 2004 for Mac. The investigation
so far shows that users of Excel 2007 or Excel 2008 for Mac, or those who have
installed Excel 2003 Service Pack 3, aren't affected.
"Upon completion of this investigation, Microsoft will take the appropriate
action to help protect our customers. This may include providing a security
update through our monthly release process or providing an out-of-cycle security
update, depending on customer needs," the advisory stated.
Company officials said that any customers who've been attacked can get security
Mailbag: Microsoft Antitrust, Supercomputers, More
Readers share their thoughts on the European Commission's renewed antitrust
probe against Microsoft:
In your Europe vs. Microsoft item yesterday, you wrote, "No rest
for the weary." If I remember correctly, the source of that proverb (Isaiah
48:22) says, "No rest for the wicked" -- which, if we're talking
about the European Commission, seems to me even more fitting.
I guess if you can't beat them, sue them. If nothing else, it slows Microsoft
Opera's suit is kind of stupid. If Windows didn't contain anything to
access the Web, how would you download Opera? Should Opera be bundled with
Windows? No, not without some cash sliding Microsoft's way for the shelf space.
Are they hoping this no-legs-to-stand-on suit will terrify MS based on past
fines? Hope not.
It seems that no matter the company or country (top-level domain servers),
someone wants a piece of someone else's pie. Go bake your own, market it and
then sell it as a competitor. Lead, follow or get out of the way. "Whining
for a handout" is not listed.
Reading about this new round of antitrust investigations made me think
of a song by Rush. It's called "The Trees." Here are some of the
There is unrest in the forest,
There is trouble with the trees,
For the maples want more sunlight
And the oaks ignore their pleas.
The trouble with the maples,
(And they're quite convinced they're right)
They say the oaks are just too lofty
And they grab up all the light.
But the oaks can't help their feelings
If they like the way they're made.
And they wonder why the maples
Can't be happy in their shade.
[The rest of the lyrics can be found here.]
News of Hector,
the U.K.'s fastest supercomputer, had these readers writing in:
Your article about the Scottish supercomputer was interesting but I think
you give it too much credit. "Hector LIVES at the University of Edinburgh's
Advanced Computer Facility"? I think "lives" may be a little
Sure, we will need a supercomputer. Have you tried to run Vista?
Lafe suggested yesterday
that because of IBM's strong international sales, the execs who first decided
to expand IBM's business beyond U.S. borders should get bigger offices. But
Mike doesn't think they'd have much use for them:
Where, in the sky? They're dead by now, surely.
IBM has expanded beyond the U.S. borders from the year dot. I started
in this business in 1968 and by 1970 I was working for a British computer
seller in Hungary. IBM had been in that country so long by then that unlike
all the rest of their competitors, they had an OFFICIAL office there. In the
summer of 1968, I worked in a summer job at IBM Finland which dominated that
market. Even in the U.K., despite serious local competition at the time, IBM
had 45 percent of the market (and so on throughout Europe).
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