Friday, February 23, 2007

Top Secret: DIA embraces Web 2.0


February 23, 2007 (Computerworld) -- The U.S. Department of Defense's lead intelligence agency is using wikis, blogs, RSS feeds and enterprise "mashups" to help its analysts collaborate better when sifting through data used to support military operations.

The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) is seeing "mushrooming" use of these various Web 2.0 technologies that are becoming critical to accomplishing missions that require intelligence sharing among analysts, said Lewis Shepherd, chief of DIA's Requirements and Research Group at the Pentagon.

The tools are helping DIA meet the directives set by the 9/11 Commission and other entities for intelligence agencies to "improve and deepen our collaborative work processes," he said.

DIA first launched a wiki it dubbed Intellipedia in 2004 on the Defense Department's Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System (JWICS), a top-secret network that links all the government's intelligence agencies.

"The collaboration potential of the social software side is really being thoroughly vetted and is now rapidly being adopted," Shepherd said. "Across agencies, wikis and blogs are becoming as ubiquitous as e-mail in terms of information sharing."

Although the agency's mission of providing intelligence to support military planning and weapons acquisition could easily fit into any spy novel or Hollywood blockbuster, Shepherd said DIA's analysts are similar to workers in other industries in that "they rely upon and demand instant gratification" for their information needs.

"One of the virtues of a wiki format is that there is a blurred line between authoring and dissemination," he added. "The second something is authored, someone else can edit it [while others can] comment upon those edits."

The agency also is escalating its use of Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX), a programming method that uses JavaScript within the client to build applications that are more interactive than pages built with HTML and don't need to refresh a Web page every time a user enters or receives new data.

DIA last year began a project to create a data access layer in its architecture using a service-oriented architecture to pull together human intelligence (data gathered by people) and publicly available data gathered from the Internet and other sources into a single environment for analysis, Shepherd added. Analysis of data in this new environment will be done in part by using Web 2.0 applications, such as "mashups," that collect RSS feeds, Google maps and data from the DIA network that users can access with a lightweight AJAX front end, he added.

"Web 2.0 mashup fans on the Internet would be very much at home in the burgeoning environment of top-secret mashups, which use in some cases Google Earth and in some cases other geospatial, temporal or other display characteristics and top-secret data," Shepherd said.

Although he did not provide additional details of how the agency is using mashups, Shepherd did note that the DIA is using JackBe Corp.'s AJAX tools as part of its work to build this new type of application. JackBe has said publicly that DIA is using its Overwatch application built with its NQ Suite of AJAX tools. Overwatch is made up of a personalized, desktop-like dashboard that can display intelligence data stores through a standard browser, JackBe officials have said.

Prabhat Agarwal, manager of information security industry analysis at Input Inc., a research firm that specializes in governmental issues, said that the DIA and other defense agencies are the most advanced users of Web 2.0 tools in the federal government to date because they have a more secure IT infrastructure.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Age of Customization: Enterprise Web 2.0-The perfect pair of pants

The Age of Customization: Enterprise Web 2.0-The perfect pair of pants,

hree forces are aligning to make this happen.
  • Web 2.0 – user empowerment and customization
  • Ajax – technology techniques to bring richness and back-end interactions to the user
  • Services – Exposed through SOA or other, services are the enterprise applications building block of tomorrow.
These forces are aligned to support the next generation of..........

Friday, February 16, 2007

Yahoo Patent

*If you haven't already in the past four months, Yahoo is a great long-term stock buy right now. *

Yahoo is prime to take back command of Web 2.0. Why? Back in 1996 when Yahoo went public for $33 million, it smartly embarked on a process to develop innovative web features. What has gotten less press is the fact that Yahoo holds the keys to its destiny hidden in the deft scripting of a couple key patents, one of which just recently issued and is the focus of our IP-Review…

Yahoo received a patent that has the potential to impact business development, and the futures, of many similarly featured companies including Google, Bloglines, Netvibes, Rojo, Dapper, Pageflakes, NewsGator, LifeIO, as well as over about twenty or so young, budding web 2.0 news aggregator sites, even one that hasn’t really launched.

In 1997, Yahoo was developing a core service: user customizable web pages. What developed defines a lot about who Yahoo is. During this period, it filed an application covering this core concept which resulted in a ‘Dynamic Page Generator’ patent that covered saving a template and delivering real-time information to a user. Another ‘Dynamic Page Generator’ patent just issued sealing the deal. Here is a solid example of Yahoo’s newly minted patent claims:

Some say that the longer the claim, the less valuable the patent. This is a case where we feel Yahoo may have a mighty asset at its disposal. As we’ve noted, many start ups have sprouted in the last two years to leverage RSS and AJAX to provide improvements to Yahoo’s offering.

Tying the claims to the web 2.0 services we’ve mentioned is quite an important step in assessing the potential for infringement. We feel there are two critical elements that need to be met for this patent’s claims to potentially “read on” the myriad of web 2.0 companies’ services. First, the user has a customized template that is saved and stored on a host server. Second, real-time information is stored on the host server and delivered to the user in the template. For most news aggregators, AJAX pretty much defines user customization that is then a saved template. Looking into how real-time information is delivered, Mozilla says: “A desktop RSS aggregator would be at the client end of the RSS syndication. A web-based RSS aggregator would be at the client end of the RSS syndication.” So, the second critical element of real-time information stored locally also appears to be applicable.

Yahoo’s potential to assert its patent rights is a case where it would be hard not to agree that: 1. Yahoo was a pioneer in the user-defined web experience; and 2. Yahoo is still using and [attempting to] benefit from this core feature today. With performance stagnating, investor pressures on the $41 Billion market cap company’s management surely mount.

Yahoo may have been handed a golden ticket, but the real question is, “How will it be used?”

Monday, February 12, 2007

Zimbra Bests Microsoft and Others for Intranet Journal Collaboration Product of the Year Award

Zimbra Collaboration Suite Honored in Document Management/Collaboration Category SAN MATEO, Calif., Feb. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Zimbra, the leader in open source, next-generation collaboration and messaging software, today announced that it has won Intranet Journal's Product of the Year Award in the Document Management/Collaboration category. Zimbra Collaboration Suite beat Microsoft SharePoint and Lotus Notes and Domino in a crowded field of market leaders.

"Zimbra was in a tight race with Microsoft SharePoint, but ultimately proved more popular with Intranet Journal voters in the Document Management category," said Tom Dunlap, managing editor of Intranet Journal. "The biggest improvement with Zimbra's latest release is the addition of Documents, which lets you create shared docs directly within Zimbra, documents than can be read and edited by others in your company."

The Zimbra Collaboration Suite (ZCS) is an open source collaboration solution that reduces the cost and complexity of collaboration, and changes the way users and administrators interact with their e-mail, calendaring, and document management applications. Last month, ZCS 4.5 was released with an improved Ajax Administrative Interface, expanded support of Zimbra Mobile, and support for growing Ubuntu and Mandriva Linux distributions. Zimbra has seen rapid adoption since its launch in October 2005, with more than six million paid mailboxes globally, serving 1,300 customers through onsite deployments and its hosted partner program.

"We are honored that the readers of Intranet Journal have selected Zimbra as the best solution for document management and collaboration," said Satish Dharmaraj, co-founder and CEO of Zimbra. "Users are tired of communication silos and are demanding integrated e-mail, document management, and other systems. Zimbra is committed to innovation that will deliver such a rich, consistent user experience."

Winners of the IntranetJournal.com 2007 Product of the Year Awards are chosen by the users of Jupitermedia's IntranetJournal.com, a leading online information resource designed specifically for Internet and IT professionals dedicated to building the corporate enterprise.

About Zimbra Collaboration Suite

The Zimbra Collaboration Suite (ZCS) provides a unique set of end-user and administrator benefits that make it a flexible solution for deployments of all sizes, from SMBs, to multi-thousand seat enterprises, to service providers with millions of customers. Key features include next-generation email; shared calendaring; Web document authoring and sharing; "over the air" synchronization to a wide range of mobile devices; VoIP integration; and compatibility with Microsoft Outlook, Apple and Linux desktops. The ZCS server is available for popular operating systems: Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Ubuntu, Fedora, Mac OS X, Debian and SUSE Linux.

About IntranetJournal.com

IntranetJournal.com (http://intranetjournal.com) is a leading community for intranet and content managers providing practical advice on application development, outsourcing, security and all of the issues facing corporate intranet managers.

About Zimbra

Zimbra is the leading provider of open source collaboration and messaging software for enterprises, service providers, educational institutions, and government agencies. The Zimbra Collaboration Suite features an Ajax Administrative user interface and browser based client to dramatically improve the messaging and collaboration experience for administrators and end users alike. Zimbra supports Windows, Apple, and Linux desktops and works with Microsoft Outlook as well as today's most essential PC and mobile devices including the Blackberry, Treo and Motorola Q. Additionally, Zimbra supports popular server operating systems such as Red Hat, Mac, Ubuntu, SUSE, Fedora and more. The Zimbra Collaboration Suite was voted Best Enterprise Project in the inaugural 2006 SourceForge.net Community Choice Awards, received a SIIA Codie award for Best Communication or Collaboration Solution and won InfoWorld's 2007 Application Innovator Technology of the Year Award. More information and software downloads are available at http://www.zimbra.com .

NOTE: Zimbra is a trademark of Zimbra, Inc. All other trademarks belong to their respective companies.

Yahoo Pipes - The Internet is a Series of Them

Yahoo Pipes - The Internet is a Series of Them

Yep, they should have called it Yahoo Tubes, Ted. Nonetheless, Yahoo just went live with Yahoo Pipes, a service that allows you to create your own mashups.

Pipes provides a drag and drop editor that lets you find data sources, mix them up and spit them out - in short, a way to combine feeds in different ways. Examples include an NYTimes-Flickr mashup that matches NYTimes headlines to relevant images, and an aggregated news alert of Yahoo, Google, MSN, Findory, Bloglines and Technorati. The service is social, in the sense that you can have an avatar, view all the mashups from a certain user and even edit these existing mashups to create something new. The editor, in fact, is particularly slick: it’s ajaxy, rather than Flash-powered, and represents actions with modules connected by lines.

Pipes is still a little geeky, admittedly, but it’s a great first step in creating a mashup tool for the masses. Let us know if you create anything cool.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Big software firms take aim at Web 2.0

January 29th, 2007

Big software firms take aim at Web 2.0

While 2006 was a big year for Web 2.0 in the consumer space, it was barely on the radar in the enterprise world. That didn't stop volumes of press coverage, speculation, and debate about how applicable Web 2.0 technologies — from Ajax to social networking — would actually be to the business world.

However those in the enterprise who wanted to go ahead, experiment, and conduct pilot projects to see how Web 2.0 concepts work for them were largely stuck with very consumer-oriented Web 2.0 applications to try out. That's because until recently, the major software makers that supply the application platforms that run the vast majority of the business world haven't had applications that specifically focused on Web 2.0 patterns and practices, things like social networking, tagging, mashups, architectures of participation, and so on.

The consumerization of the enterprise was predicted to be one of the significant trends of 2007 and a quick look at this list of applications confirms that it will indeed be a key story this year.However, in the last couple of months quite a different picture has emerged and the world's largest software companies have taken clear aim at the Web 2.0 product space with announcement after announcement. IBM, Microsoft, SAP, Oracle, and Intel all have significant products, often many of them, targeted at offering the modern consumer Web experience to workers inside the firewall. And far from being a me-too play with the rest of the industry, the truth is that as popular as open source is getting — particularly in the Web 2.0 community — many business customers still prefer solutions that play well with the mountains of enterprise IT applications and back-end systems that currently run the business.

And with approaches like Enterprise 2.0 heating up including the cutting edge topics like the emergence of mashup creation tools to build a visual "face" of service-oriented architectures (SOA), it turns out that Web 2.0 applications aimed at the enterprise must deal well with formal services integration, enterprise search, information security, single sign-on, Sarbanes-Oxley compliance, and a laundry list of other enterprise issues. These are all topics that the aforementioned firms understand well and are actively addressing in most cases with these new products.

Adding "enterprise context" to Web 2.0 tools require some work but doesn't have to be daunting. Read overviews of how to provide this for blogs and wikis.

It's also true that these are uncertain days for many of the big software firms. This is partially because the world of software is becoming increasingly commoditized while the expectations for how software should be hosted is also moving rapidly from installed native applications to online Software as a Service (SaaS). There's also a sense that enterprise systems have become too complicated, unwieldy, and slow-moving compared to their nimble brethren out on the Web. New Web applications have continued to adapt and evolve out on the Internet quite quickly in comparison to traditional IT, essentially ushering in the Web 2.0 era itself. It was no accident that the Web 2.0 Summit's theme last year was disruption and opportunity, and so it's concomitant on software companies to adjust to the industry and evolve.

The Web 2.0 strategies of these new applications are as interesting and varied as the companies that have come up with them. It's worth taking a look at the big Web 2.0 enterprise apps being announced so far. To get a good feel for the this next generation of enterprise apps, here's a round-up of the latest Web 2.0 software plans of the industry's top software firms. In no particular order:

SAP LogoSAP announced last week that it would be adding Web 2.0-style collaboration capabilities in many of its projects. While SAP's specific Web 2.0 plans are the least defined of all the companies in this, a couple of notable points are the specific implementation of widgets, small bits of mobile code that can be added to a Web page by a user and provide data or functionality from back-end systems. The emergence of end-user widgets on the Web was one of the more interesting parts of the Web 2.0 phenomenon last year as users got more accustomed to being able to control their user experience, using them to create the views and shared spaces through which they collaborate with others. To leverage all of this, SAP says it is also updating its NetWeaver infrastructure to "make SAP data accessible in different formats, including its traditional client software, a Web-based client, portal, mobile devices and widgets." This is a clear bow to both remix and mashups as well as software above the level of a single device.

IBM LogoIn recent months IBM has clearly jumped on the Web 2.0 bandwagon with two feet and has been preparing quite a number of products in this space. The announcements a few days ago at Lotusphere 2007 contained lots of interesting material including two significant new Web 2.0 applications designed for business. The first is called Lotus Quickr and is described as "a new Web 2.0-based collaborative content offering designed to transform the way everyday business content, such as documents and rich media, is shared and enable more effective team collaboration." Quickr offers blogs, wikis, syndication, and deep integration into existing content repositories and even into the Windows desktop itself. The other announcement was Lotus Connections, which offers what IBM calls "business-grade social computing." Bringing industrial strength social networking features, Connections offers community features designed to eliminate the need for multiple social software platforms. Taking a sip from the Web 2.0 Kool-Aid, IBM cites Forrester saying, "social software tools will become so much a part of the fabric of an enterprise's collaborative environment that it will be like air — enterprises won't be able to imagine life without it." Finally, IBM is working hard to offering software development products that bring the mashup phenomenon to the enterprise market. I highlighted IBM's QEDWiki end-user mashup IDE in my last post, but a quick tour of AlphaWorks' impressive Collaborative Development Environments section shows that's just the beginning of what IBM has planned.

Oracle LogoNot to be outdone, database and enterprise application powerhouse, Oracle, has gotten into the Web 2.0 act with a platform known as WebCenter, which already has an impressive Web site to go along with it. Oracle says WebCenter will "bring Web 2.0-centric applications to your enterprise using open, standards-based architecture". Focusing on the hordes of skilled Java developers that reside in the typical enterprise, and most interestingly Knowledge workers as well, WebCenter provides "a single Web interface to access a wide range of enterprise services, including business applications, enterprise content, business intelligence, enterprise search, communication and collaboration services, and Web 2.0-centric applications. WebCenter Suite improves productivity of developers and end-users alike." Enabling end-users to engage in customer self-service in terms of the IT solution they need is believed by some to be the next major sweet spot in enterprise applications, and like IBM, Oracle is clearly targeting this space.

Intel LogoThe company normally known for its formidable microprocessor line and not so much for software has also decided to throw its otherwise quite capable hand in the Enterprise 2.0 ring with a product suite called SuiteTwo. By partnering with leading Web 2.0 applications vendors such as SixApart and SocialText (blogs and wikis respectively), Intel has assembled a relatively complete Enterprise 2.0 solution with leading-edge syndication capabilities (essential for the signals part of the Enterprise 2.0 SLATES mnemonic, for example.) For its part, Intel says that SuiteTwo "is a rich set of interconnected services that combine to improve productivity and enable high-engagement marketing. SuiteTwo includes the most trusted platforms for blogs, wikis, RSS feed reading, and RSS feed management, all under a single management interface." Use of the Enterprise 2.0 phrase will certainly help give it credibility and/or attention in many circles and we'll see how Intel can use its extensive customer and partner relationships to make SuiteTwo a success.

Microsoft LogoIt's just a few hours away from the launch of Windows Vista, which includes Web 2.0-related features such a highly capable end-user RSS/ATOM feed management system. But Microsoft has been providing highly effective Web-based collaborative, social environments for years, best exemplified by products like SharePoint. But Microsoft has traditionally been half-on, half-off the Web 2.0 fence and has adopted the Live brand for its own line of online applications and services. While Live has famously struggled in the consumer space, Microsoft is one of the most capable companies in the enterprise space, providing productivity applications for tens of millions of business customers worldwide. In a fascinating document released last month, Microsoft explains its Web 2.0 strategy in terms of its Microsoft Office 2007 products in a very intriguing, Enterprise 2.0 way. Explaining the planks of Web 2.0 in quite the O'Reilly-esque manner, including "collective intelligence", data-powered applications, and rich user experiences, the document takes readers on a tour of Microsoft's vision for the latest version of Office as a tool to provide Web-based end-user content management, user-driven applications, blogs, wikis, aggregation, user participation, and more. And while Web 2.0 feature staples like tagging, ranking, and commenting are missing from Office 2007 today (and acknowledged to be missing), Microsoft says it's working on this as well as how to make these systems work across the firewall. Microsoft has long maintained sustained interest in resolving the tension and overlap between Web 2.0, SOA, and SaaS and while their latest products show initial progress down this path, I'm expect much more from them in the near future.

Gartner recommended a long term Web 2.0 strategy for most enterprise firms last year. Read an overview exploring if every organization really needs a Web 2.0 strategy.

The consumerization of the enterprise was predicted to be one of the significant trends of 2007 and a quick look at this list of applications confirms that it will indeed be a key story this year. Unfortunately, the history of enterprise applications doesn't bode well for rapid adoption of new tools. Fortunately, the vision for consumerization is one driven much more by pull-based systems such as grassroots adoption similar to the PC two decades ago rather that less efficient push-based deployment by IT departments. In other words, end-users will begin using blogs, wikis, mashup tools, and other social platforms increasingly on their own volition to get their work done. And smart IT department and business uints will figure out how to ride the swell of this tide.