YouTube – NetSuite Guy vs. SAP Guy (Mac vs. PC parody)

Parody of Mac vs PC ads. NetSuite makes fun of SAP BBYD.

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Box.net Integrates with Google Apps, Pairing Robust Cloud Content Management with Google’s Communication and Collaboration Platform

Cloud Content Management provider Box.net today announced it is available as an integrated Google Apps™ service on the Google Apps Marketplace™, Google’s recently launched online storefront for Google Apps products and services. Google Apps customers can now access and share their Box.net content when logged into Google Apps, and Box.net customers can use Google Apps products within Box.net.

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What is Zoho?

Nice video explaining what cloud computing is in general and what Zoho is in particular.

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Work. Online

Great video from Zoho: Work. Online. Music, Cast and most of the crew members are Zoho employees. Pre-production and Post-production was done by the employees of Zoho.

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Red Hat News | From Code to Community to Enterprise-Ready

Red Hat’s software development model relies on its active sponsorship of leading open source projects, including the Fedora Project, which produces the Fedora distribution. Fedora combines and showcases the latest in open source technologies anyone can download, use, and remix, and also serves as the technology foundation of Red Hat’s commercial products. By providing cutting-edge technology, Fedora helps advance the development of open source worldwide, and the technologies found in Fedora may be incorporated later into other Linux distributions as well.Ever wonder how great features make it from the community into enterprise-ready technology like Red Hat Enterprise Linux? Take a look at the video to learn more.

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Open Source Alternatives to Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Domino

Microsoft Exchange is a messaging and collaboration platform that has quickly gained adoption among many corporate organizations, specially those who have standardized on Microsoft Windows Server for their infrastructure. It brings in one package many enterprise features including messaging (using its own proprietary MAPI/RPC protocol or open standard protocols such as POP3/IMAP and SMTP), shared calendaring, resource management, directory services (LDAP/AD) and many others. In later releases, it has added web access, mobile sync (supports Windows mobile, Blackberry, Android devices) clustering, and high availability features making it suitable for large organizations and mission-critical deployments. If deployed and integrated with other products from Microsoft‘s suite of server solutions such as Sharepoint (for collaboration, document management and workflow) and OCS (unified communications and collaboration), Exchange can be a formidable platform for any vendor to match.

Lotus Domino on the other hand has been around earlier, and is still used in many organizations who have decided to deploy corporate groupware solutions early on with Lotus Notes. Like Exchange, it is a messaging and collaboration platform but in addition is also an application development platform commonly used for forms-based or workflow applications. In recent releases, IBM has made Domino an extensible platform with document management services, portal services, unified communications and collaboration (with Lotus Sametime), and others.

Both platforms are mature and have enjoyed wide use in many corporate deployments. Lotus Domino has the advantage of being in the market earlier, while Exchange enjoys the advantage of having an excellent and ubiquitous client in Microsoft Outlook and great integration with Microsoft’s market-leading products.

However, customers looking for an alternative from the open source community or commercial open source vendors are in luck as there is now a host of choices. On top of standard messaging and collaboration features, many of them bundle a ton of other features and functionality, such as built-in antispam and antivirus, file or document management, cross-platform support (ie can often run on both Windows and Linux) and many others. In this post, I’ll try to list down the well known enterprise-ready alternatives and rate them based on their features, extensibility and adoption. Let’s get started:

  • Citadel. I got to know of Citadel from mailing lists and recommendations of some uses from message boards, forums and social networking sites. I haven’t tried Citadel but from what I was able to gather from their website, it seems Citadel has been around for a long time, making it a mature product in terms of features. It supports messaging (support for POP3/IMAP/SMTP), group calendars and address books, but in addition offers instant messaging, mailing list management, and bulletin board-style forums. It also bundles open source antispam and antivirus solutions SpamAssassin and ClamAV respectively. Notable is its support for the GroupDAV protocol (a subset of WebDAV), which makes it a great choice if you will be using open source clients as well such as Thunderbird, KDE Kontact, Evolution and others. A notable disadvantage is lack of support for syncing calendar and task information in Outlook. Lack of built-in clustering and high availability features may be a  problem for some organizations, although a knowledgeable Linux admin can compensate for this. With its support for GroupDAV and light hardware requirements, Citadel makes a great choice for organizations comfortable with open source or companies who want to extend the life of old server hardware. I would be hard pressed to recommend this for large enterprise deployments however where support, ease of use, and ease of maintenance and management are more important considerations than features.
  • Horde Groupware Webmail Edition. Horde is really a web application framework with Horde Groupware as a project showcase of what is possible with the framework. It is actually a mail client, with the mail and identity management pieces being handled by Postfix, Dovecot, Sendmail and OpenLDAP. Horde Groupware is widely used by many web hosting providers as a hosted groupware solution for customers and is bundled by some Linux distribution vendors (such as ClarkConnect) as their collaboration solution. Because of its roots as an application development framework, Horde can easily be extended and is really a collection of different integrated modules. Besides messaging, different modules handle calendaring, task management, mailing list management, antivirus and antispam (via SpamAssassin and ClamAV), along with file management, photo gallery, forums, memos, wikis and many others. Syncing data with Outlook is possible via 3rd party plugins, and it readily supports other open source clients as well such as Thunderbird, Evolution and others. My criticism against Horde is its dated User Interface versus the other choices here with their slick and snappy AJAX-powered front-ends. Another is the complicated and time consuming set up the various components (ie Postfix and others) Horde modules–admins might be better served getting a pre-packaged solution in place. Overall Horde, like Citadel, is a great choice for organizations with experienced Linux admins, who want to extend the life of old server hardware and want a feature-rich and mature solution. I would be hard pressed to recommend this for large enterprise deployments however where support, ease of use, and ease of maintenance and management are more important considerations than features.
  • OpenGroupware/InstantOGO. OpenGroupware also has a rich and long past. It was originally a commercial project which was later spun off to open source project was later spun off and called OpenGroupware. Like many here it supports messaging, group calendars and address books, scheduling and task management, support for GroupDAV, CalDAV, and LDAP out of the box, file and document management and many others. Its a pre-packaged solution and is relatively easy to set up and configure. The commercial version offers support for Outlook sync, as well as commercial support. Definitely a mature, feature-rich solution that is in many ways a good choice for midsized to large organizations.
  • Open-Xchange. Open-Xchange is a messaging and collaboration server that is OEMed by many service providers because of its rich features, slick webmail client and ease of setup and use. It supports many open standards protocols and supports Outlook sync via a commercial extension. Originally a commercial product that was bundled with Novell’s Linux Messaging product (SuSE Linux Open-Xchange or SLOX), it features messaging, group calendars/addressbook and scheduling, identity management (support for LDAP and AD), document management, portals,  and more. Recent releases highlight its social networking capabilities with the ability to share information with Social Networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. It will also soon feature support for mobile clients via Exchange’s Active Sync technology. The software is available as a community-supported product, a commercially-supported product, a turnkey appliance or as a hosted instance. Definitely a mature, feature-rich solution that is in many ways a good choice for midsized to large organizations.
  • Scalix. Scalix is also a relatively new player that from the get-go targetted the entreprise market early on. It was originally developed on top of HP OpenMail, and was licensed from HP. On top of standard messaging and groupware features it supports a lot of enterprise-grade functionality such as LDAP and AD support, high availability, multi-tenant management, support for Outlook sync and mobile devices, and many others. It features a nice, slick webmail client, but supports Outlook and mobile devices, on top of other open source clients such as Evolution, Thunderbird and many others. It was recently bought by Xandros and is now offered as a hosted instance, commercial turn-key product or a community-supported downloadable product. Because of its rich features, it should be considered as a contender in any enterprise deployment.
  • Zarafa. Zarafa is a relatively new player that is being marketed as a drop-in replacement for Microsoft Exchange. That means you can replace your existing Exchange installation with Zarafa and your existing Outlook clients and mobile devices wouldn’t know the difference. It supports Outlook’s MAPI protocol as well as the ActiveSync protocol for mobile devices. It has a slick webmail which mimics the look and feel of Outlook Web Access, and makes available a nice set of APIs so third party developers can integrate and sync data with the platform. Some popular open source applications that can sync data with Zarafa include SugarCRM (CRM) and Alfresco (document management). It is available in community as well as commercial versions, with some of the more advanced features only available in the commercial editions. The nice thing though is that the Outlook sync, unlike many here, is available as well in the community supported (ie FREE) version. Its rich feature set, compatibility with Outlook, ease of use and management ensures that this solution should be on the short list looking for a lower cost alternative to Microsoft Exchange.
  • Zimbra Collaboration Suite. Zimbra’s entry is the most interesting in that they really rethought the architecture and design of a groupware product. Zimbra is positioned as messaging and collaboration 2.0 with its mashup platform (via Zimlets which allow the product to share and sync data with third-party data sources and service providers) and its slick AJAX-powered webmail and offline client. On top of this, they still offer standard messaging and collaboration features, along with many high-end, enterprise-grade features (only available in their commercial product) such as LDAP and AD support, high availability, archiving, support for Outlook sync and mobile devices, and many others. Like Scalix, the company was recently bought by Yahoo and is now offered as a hosted instance, commercial turn-key product or a community-supported downloadable product. Like Zarafa, integration with other open source products exist like SugarCRM, Alfresco, Asterisk (IP-based PBX) and XMPP (instant messaging). Like Open-Xchange and Scalix, definitely should be on the short list for any midsized to large company looking at deploying a collaboration platform. Its extensibility and rich UI make it a good choice for companies looking for a platform to integrate with form-based and workflow applications making it my choice for companies wishing to look for an alternative to Lotus Domino.

Anything I missed? Let me know by posting a comment. Comments and suggestions are welcome!

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Does Google Wave Represent the next “Wave” in Communication and Collaboration?

I watched with interest the screencast of Google’s Announcement of their new product called “Google Wave” at the recently concluded Google I/O Conference. Google I/O is the search giant’s annual developer event in San Francisco and was the perfect venue for their launch of a product they envision to be a new platform and really brings with it a new paradigm for communication and collaboration.

Google Wave (currently in developer preview) essentially brings together in a single place all channels for communication or collaboration a user may need such as Email, IM, Blogging, Microblogging and others. So what you may ask? Aren’t there a lot of unified communication applications (ie Skype)/messaging aggregators (ie Digsby, Pidgin)/content management systems (ie Sharepoint) that do the same thing?

Well not quite. Google Wave (from my understanding) does it in a slightly different, and ultimately more interesting and clever way: they treat each type of communication (be it text, posts, images, videeo, URLs, etc.) as discrete objects, which can be be presented, manipulated, aggregated, and distributed in countless ways and in real-time. They have come up with their own protocol to allow for easier federation and aggregation, and possibly faster transmission, unencumbered by the “legacy” limitations of other communication protocols (such as email) or proprietary limitations of other protocols (such as IM and Skype). They allow “hooks” into that data so that third party developers can easily extend it (ie on-the-fly spell checking, translation) or integrate it with other applications (ie posting on blogs such as Blogger, posting in microblogs such as Twitter, presenting on social networks or portals such as Facebook or Orkut), and other forms of data (ie video and photos). They really thought out the user experience, and really push the boundaries of what can be done today by programming using the web (they use HTML 5 and use the Google Web Toolkit as their presentation framework).

The best thing about Google Wave? Its completely open (as in open standards and open source) so that there will be no encumbrance to (Google hopes) its wide spread adoption. You can deploy it on-premise (behind the corporate firewall) or use it in the cloud (on Google’s own servers) and federate the servers so that servers can still inter-operate or communicate. In that way it is similar to email.

Its difficult to describe just what  Google Wave is all about. Check out this video demonstration so you can see and learn more about it for yourself:

Citrix Dazzle Promises to Bring the iTunes Experience to Enterpise Software

Citrix announced recently the launch of several products, the most interesting of which was Dazzle:

Citrix Systems » Products » — Receiver » Dazzle

Citrix Dazzle – the first self-service “storefront” for enterprise applications – gives corporate employees 24×7 self-service access to the applications they need to work. Dazzle offers a rich, intuitive user experience that requires no training. If you’ve used DirecTV or Apple iTunes, you already know how to use Dazzle. Dazzle makes self-service IT a reality for the first time ever, giving users simple access to apps and IT services, and bringing the economics of the web to enterprise IT.

With Dazzle, Citrix hopes to bring to the enterprise the same smooth customer experience consumers enjoy with services such as Apple’s iTunes store in acquiring applications. Here is a screenshot:

From what I understand, these are virtual apps that can be “streamed” or downloaded and run on a user’s desktop (and even on mobile devices via Citrix’s Receiver–also announed at the same time) with minimal effort. Any application or desktop that currently can be
virtualized under Citrix XenServer, Citrix XenApp, and Citrix Desktop
can be loaded into the store and made accessible to end users.
Although similar services already exist in the market today from vendors such as rPath (virtual software appliance creator service) and Jumpbox (turnkey open source software appliances), these services suffer from the fact that they are able to offer only a limited number of applications and don’t have the support of the larger vendors (ie Microsoft, SAP) to be able to sway corporate-type IT guys to try it out–something that Citrix with its existing partnerships and channel relationships just might be able to do.

The announcement is interesting in that it provides end users with another alternative channel from which they can acquire IT applications and services. Taking a page from the success companies such as Apple have had with music and videos in the consumer space, enterprise customers will soon be able to use and consume software when they need it, and pay by the drink. The applications will look and behave the same way as their existing desktop applications, but offer the convenience and economy of cloud-based alternatives.  This can be just the right intermediate technology before everything moves to the cloud.

Dazzle is expected to become available later in the year. It wil be interesting to see if the service will be a success.

 

This is What I Want to Be When I Grow Up!

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Zoho Launches Zoho Gadgets

This is interesting. It seems these guys never tire of building new things into their platform. Zoho launched recently its Zoho Gadgets, which allows users to embed Zoho apps to be embedded in any OpenSocial compatible site or social network. This includes Orkut, iGoogle, Gmail, Friendster, Ning and Yahoo. Although not OpenSocial compatible, Zoho Gadgets also support embedding on Facebook.

Zoho Gadgets connects you to iGoogle, Facebook, Orkut, Gmail etc | Zoho Blogs

Zoho Gadgets launches today with the aim to connect Zoho applications with external applications. Zoho Gadgets, available at http://gadgets.zoho.com, can be integrated/embedded with online applications like iGoogle, Facebook, Orkut, Gmail & more. To start with, we are offering six Zoho gadgets.

* Zoho Docs (Including Writer, Sheet & Show)
* Zoho Mail
* Zoho Calendar
* Zoho Tasks
* Zoho Contacts and
* Zoho Planner