Okay, it’s not entirely the full scale onslaught of the database wars of the 1990s, but there are signs of calls to action. To date, the battlefield has been pretty much dominated by the bravado of Salesforce.com, which has knocked the enterprise giants, Siebel and Oracle, off kilter and into reactive mode.
The other pure play on-demand firms have so far been less proactively aggressive in their marketing efforts – the only significant stirring being somewhat ill-judged attempts to capitalise on Salesforce.com’s outages, which in turn simply undermined the on-demand model itself.
But finally the phoney war appears to be over. NetSuite’s recent product event in San Francisco was amusing, sharp in places and took the fight to the rest of the market. The Suite Wars idea – Star Wars, Suite Wars, you see what they did there? – took pot shots at SAP, Microsoft and Salesforce.com, most of which hit their targets. There was little or no mention of Oracle of course, which is a bit of a flaw in the overall messaging, but inevitable given the fact that Larry Ellison is the majority shareholder in NetSuite.
But back to the emerging industry sector itself. NetSuite’s announcements were interesting in their own right. Users at the event were impressed with the enhancements to the product set and there was a sense that it was a genuine incremental improvement. Elsewhere Salesforce.com made its first acquisition in the shape of Sendia, which takes mobile functionality into the AppExchange community of ISV developed applications.
It’s all starting to look like a grown up sector of the market. Oracle has released another version of Siebel CRM On Demand – which adds further strength to my conviction that the way you spell Fusion is S-I-E-B-E-L. We’re still not clear here at MIS Towers exactly what it is that Microsoft and SAP are planning in the on-demand space, but at least they’ve learned to use the words – even if every second sentence is “and then you can bring it on-premise”.
Talking of Ellison, his recent interview with the Financial Times was a salutary reminder that whatever good ideas there are in the software industry, Larry thought of them first. Actually that’s slightly unfair, it was less a case that Larry wanted to claim he thought of SaaS first and more that he didn’t want Marc Benioff getting the credit for it.
Well now there's a surprise. IT directors aren’t keen on the idea of organisations employing a chief outsourcing officer. I guess they wouldn’t be – it’s kind of akin to turkeys voting for Christmas.
According to research commissioned by HCL, some 84 per cent of UK IT directors reckon that the idea of a dedicated board-level representative for outsourcing operations is not a good idea and they can handle the responsibility for outsourcing themselves, thank you very much.
Furthermore 83 per cent of IT directors feel that they should be on the board talking about outsourcing, not finance, operations or procurement directors. IT director representation at board-level? Hmmm, is it just me or have we been here before? I wonder if the board will be convinced this time around? Answers on a postcard please...
That sense of dissapointment about the actions certain computer companies continues.
After Google’s opportunistic Chinese adventures, I see that Bill Gates was entertaining Chinese officials as part of a US government-backed visit. Presumably human rights and freedom of speech must have been on the agenda over the dinner table? They weren’t? Oh well, maybe next time.
Now Apple – surely the epitome of everyone’s idea of hippy chic and free thinking – is arguing in court that online journalists don’t have the same rights of confidentiality as their offline colleagues when it comes to that oldest of principles: protecting sources. All because back in 2004 there was a leak to some online newswires about new Apple products.
Memo to Apple: get over it and move on. In having a corporate hissy fit over this, you’re potentially setting a hideously dangerous precedent that could undermine investigative journalism in areas a damn sight more important than scooping your product announcement schedule.