August 2011 Archives

Cloud computing needs "condensed connections"

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As readers of this blog may already know, I give about as much credence to IT surveys as I generally reserve for the low life characters that turn up on trashy morning talk shows.

I still read these surveys though and I'm trying to work out why. I think what I'm mainly trying to do is to ascertain whether the vendor who has planted their name behind the stats is simply pushing their own agenda, or whether there are real industry trends to pick up on.

Let's deal with some simple propositions:

• cloud computing is here,
• enterprise data volumes are growing,
• SaaS delivery requires more data management tools for software application development teams trying to leverage value out of data,
• data connection points and adaptive data management are not the top headlines in the cloud computing industry,
• data connection should be more of a pre-cloud deployment consideration.

I didn't say those were going to be "facts", I said they were simple propositions OK? -- but I hope you that most readers would go along with them.


Our IT "study of the week" here, that may or may not resonate with the above comments, is based on a study of over 100 IT executives and is snappily named the 2011 Application Connection Priorities report.

"Businesses are inundated with data as they add more and more applications to their ecosystem and strive to listen to and engage with customers via social media channels - a trend that is only accelerating," said Gaurav Dhillon, CEO of SnapLogic, the company behind the aforementioned survey.

"The biggest challenge companies face is getting this lifeblood of data flowing effectively throughout the entire organisation. The ability to make fast, easy connections between multiple applications has quickly become a business necessity."

SnapLogic suggests that the majority of companies expect enterprise data to grow by at least 25 percent over the next 12 to 18 months. At the same time, most companies cite struggles with integration and data quality as the primary roadblocks to leveraging the full value of that data.

Now it won't surprise you to find that SnapLogic lists the three most popular downloads from its online SnapStore as Snaps for Twitter, Box.Net and GoodData - all of which are products that reflect an emphasis on connecting business intelligence, productivity and social media applications with enterprises' other applications in the cloud (or on the ground for that matter).

Did SnapLogic pre-load its survey questions to align the answers accordingly so that the issue of data "connection" would be brought to the fore? I'd say there's a strong chance wouldn't you?

Does cloud computing and enterprise level use of social media necessitate a more strategically planned approach to data and application integration and connection? Once again, there's a strong chance this is true.

Is it time to watch some daytime TV talk shows to see if their production departments are just pumping us with contrived pre-planned ridiculous zaniness? Absolutely, why not... ☺

SAP's Sybase: big data by the people, of the people, for the people

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It's not much more than about a month since SAP's Sybase division launched its Sybase IQ 15.3 columnar Relational DataBase Management System (RDBMS) in an attempt to win over converts to its newly beefed up product.

Flaunting this product's Massively Parallel Processing (MPP) and Sybase-branded IQ PlexQ technologies, the company says that its 15.3 release will lead to no less than "data warehouse transformation" -- breaking down both user- and information-silos to drive analytics adoption throughout an entire organisation as it does.

But behind the marketing-speak, Sybase may just have a nice little piece of kit here. This is not just about being able to process so-called "big data"; this is making big data available to many (hundreds, thousands even) users across an organisation -- and this is data with real value as a result of its passage through complex analytics engines to tune it and manage it.

Here's the good bit...

"With Sybase IQ PlexQ, IT departments can implement virtual data marts in order to optimise the experience for different applications and user communities. Sybase IQ PlexQ dynamically balances query workloads across nodes on the grid for massively parallel processing of complex analytics at speeds 10 to 100 times faster than traditional data warehouses," said the company, in a press statement.

Sybase IQ 15.3's MPP (massively parallel processing) grid architecture basically allows a sharing of processing power, memory and access to data, so that a huge number of users can all perform some of their own analytics -- but the database administrator (DBA) and developer team can still keep a degree of control as needed.

"Enterprise IT departments are demanding new ways to enhance their enterprise data warehouse systems to increase intelligence, productivity and analytics capability across the enterprise," said Brian Vink, VP, product management, Sybase.

"Sybase IQ, with its PlexQ technology, brings customers a powerful, yet simplified, approach that overcomes traditional data warehouse limitations. IT departments can now support users across the enterprise with many concurrent workloads and large datasets on a single, highly scalable elastic grid, significantly increasing analytics intelligence across the enterprise while reducing IT administration burden."

Want to know more? I'll be at SAP TechEd in a few week's time to dig for deeper data details.

An EXTENDED set of comments with additional product information from Sybase as well as commentary from Forrester analyst James Kobielus follows below (or if you're on the blog home page, follow the 'Continue reading' link).

Microsoft: cloud computing government demands "API democracy"

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So cloud computing is really starting to show some weather patterns isn't it? A number of businesses are now taking steps to open up their APIs and put their data into the cloud, either as freely available source code or at a cost. For public sector organisations, this has been encouraged by the government's open data initiatives.

According to, "The government is releasing public data to help people understand how government works and how policies are made. Some of this data is already available, but brings it together in one searchable website."

That's great of course, Mr. Cameron's open data driven big (data) society will make roughly 5,400 datasets available, but what about the commercial sector?

For commercial organisations, this kind of initiative opens up a number of possibilities -- but there is a caveat i.e. developing in this kind of environment should be democratic and work well for all parties:

• 3rd party developers need to gain access to source data and code to arm them with the tools they need to build great apps;
• the API 'owners' get a brand boost by encouraging more apps to be created harnessing their information and;
• consumers benefit from getting their hands on more varied and innovative apps.

This is the age of the (cloud powered) train

National Rail Enquires is an example of an organisation with a strategy for cloud hosting. At a recent event, National Rail Enquiries made both its journey planning and live departure API's available for developers to play with. For the company's web development manager, Jonathan Chong, this was all about seeing how developers could take this up-to-date information and create user-friendly ways for consumers to interact with the brand.

The challenge was taken up by Southwark-based development shop Governor Technology. Its app - 'Train vs. Car' - compares how long it takes to get to a destination by car and by rail, and works out the user's current location using HTML 5's geolocation, by the user simply entering their destination postcode.

The app then shows the different journey times by car and by train, with users able to see a visual breakdown of the journey both in terms of the roads taken (using Bing Maps) and, for the rail route, the railway stations along the way.

Azure in motion, practical proof?

Jonathan Chong, web development manager for National Rail Enquiries explained his organisation's onward strategy for API openness by saying, "The emergence of technologies such as cloud computing has opened the doors for developers and organisations of different sizes to benefit from APIs in the cloud. As part of our commitment to cloud hosting and applying new technologies, we partnered with Microsoft Azure to make the journey planning and live departure board API web service available for developers to work with at a Microsoft event. The result was a success and demonstrated the possibilities of Azure and the cloud."

Gilbert Hill, business development director, for Governor Technology highlights what he finds to be the key enabling elements of Microsoft's cloud proposition by saying that, "As early adopters of Microsoft technologies such as Silverlight and Windows Phone 7, Azure has really made the cloud a reality for our developers, us as a business and our clients. With full integration of Azure with Visual Studio, having built the app, it really was just a question of pressing 'deploy' to see it hosted in the cloud. With Azure, we no longer have to consider hosting on a project as a separate piece to the main development, and offer a tailored solution which is scalable and cost-flexible."

"Key to these kinds of partnerships is the building and hosting of applications with minimum fuss," said Mark Taylor, director of the developer team at Microsoft UK.

"Windows Azure is geared up to helping development operations like Governor Technology to build, host and scale applications in Microsoft data centres with no up-front expenses and no long-term commitment. This is exactly what Governor Technology did with its 'Train vs. Car' offering -- as the company's developer team hit the 'Publish to Windows Azure' button and sat back, their app deployed into the cloud," said Taylor.

Mark Taylor_1.JPG
Microsoft's Taylor: app hosting needs "minimum fuss"

"What is important for developers using Microsoft Windows Azure platform is that they do not need to be concerned about deployment or the operational maintenance of the infrastructure to power their applications. They can use the Visual Studio development environment as well as proven industrial-strength programming languages as well as popular web languages such as PHP. Additionally, if a database is required there is SQL Server in Azure. Best of all, they have massive scalability, geographic distribution, fast deployment and a pay on consumption model," said Taylor.

The Evolution of IT 3.0

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Here's a bit of a techie Friday fun video to end your week with.

Below is a video from ServiceNow detailing the evolution of IT Service Management and how it has changed businesses. The video gives a timeline of how businesses operated from the age of the mainframe all the way to today into the era that the company has coined 'IT 3.0'.

This video gives a pretty good explanation of the theory behind it and what is involved in a modern, cloud based SaaS platform and how it can be used to drive more efficiency in the modern organisation.

Although this video is (admittedly) designed as a promotional tool, it is so nicely presented (with just a short plug at the end) that I think it's a worthy watch to recommend to you.

Troubling times (and dates)

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The is a guest blog written for the Computer Weekly Developer Network by Michael Vessey, senior consultant with software testing provider SQS.

Some of the most common defects in software systems are in areas relating to dates and times. Often requirements and specifications can be misinterpreted or misunderstood. A developer might use standard functions (such as datediff) to make life easier, however these functions may not meet expected (and not explicitly described) requirements.

Common examples of poorly defined requirements include: "Show me on screen how many days there are until my birthday." Does the specification tell us if the number to be displayed is inclusive of both dates? If my Birthday is 29th February and it's not a leap year then what should be displayed?

What kind of year is that?

These are all common problems that are often overlooked until a very thorough test analyst starts looking at fringe test cases. With some utterly bizarre logic and differences between the Gregorian, Chinese, Julian and Hindu calendars (to name a few), defects often occur in scenarios a developer may not be aware of.

For example as children we are taught that if a year is divisible by four then it is a leap year - but the actual logic required for determining leap years is:

if year modulo 400 is 0
          then is_leap_year
else if year modulo 100 is 0
          then not_leap_year
else if year modulo 4 is 0
          then is_leap_year

Operating system and server-side date issues

So we know that the logic of dealing with dates can be very irregular and there are traps for unwary developers; but what about hardware date handling and server date/time storage? One of the first real examples of this was the Y2K bug. There are many more instances of this type of defect cropping up, for example Microsoft's SQL server still contains settings that dictate which century a two-digit year belongs to (see below).


Other databases and applications suffer from similar issues - the important thing for a developer to realise is that you cannot rely on the server configuration; rather that you must code defensively when dealing with date/time storage and be as explicit as possible.

A brief look at currently known issues could make a lot of people pause for thought and look a little closer at their own date/time storage and look for potential trip-ups.

• GPS Date rollover (21st August 1999)
• Code Value Terminator (9/9/99 is used as both an "unknown" date or a terminator to indicate no more data in a file)
• Taiwan (minguo calendar determines 2011 as the first three-digit year)
• 2038 (Unix 32-bit unsigned integer storage limits dates to 19th January 2038)
• 2042 (IBM Mainframe clocks stop at 17th September 2042)
• 2107 (FAT file systems will have date overflow issues at the end of 2107)
• Year 10,000 (The first five-digit year)

It's unlikely that you will encounter any of these on a day-to-day basis, but emerging complexities and features in multinational software systems are leading to more common and realistic scenarios where date/time storage is an issue.

Null is not nothing

The most prevalent of these is the use of NULL values. Modern ".Net" developers often overlook blank data in their fields and as a result the value "1/1/1900" is used to replace empty date values. This can have catastrophic results when report writers begin to create reports based on date ranges.

For example the following extremely simple query to show all employees that left before 1st October 2010 has two very different results depending upon whether dates are stored as NULL or 1/1/1900

select * from employee where leavingdate<'01 oct 2010'

Since NULL values cannot be evaluated our employees who have not left do not show up in the results. However, if NULL dates are being stored as 1/1/1900 then we suddenly have a lot more people appearing in our query (namely the ones that have not left the company yet).

The source of time-trouble

To explain why we have so many issues in managing and storing dates and times, we have to look at how they are stored and why.

A date (or time) is most useful when it can be ordered in some manner - time is relatively linear (unless you are near a black hole or are approaching the speed of light) and reporting of time based events nearly always requires data shown in date order. Dates must be stored as a baseline date and a number of increments after that baseline.

Similarly Microsoft SQL server has a baseline date of 1/1/1900 and can represent (using both positive and negative values) values from January 1, 1753, through December 31, 9999 to the nearest millisecond

Satellite navigation systems use the GPS epoch (6th January 1980) is as the baseline date and the increment is expressed in a thirteen-bit field as the number of weeks since the epoch and the weekday. So, modern sat-nav systems won't work 8192 weeks after 1980 (sometime near the year 2137).

For those of you asking "surely there must be a method of storing dates in strings that is much safer?" well no, you only have to consider that "01 Apr 2011" in French would be "01 Avr 2011" and that American dates are expressed in reverse to British dates. When coupled with leading-zero problems and the fact that string storage is considerably more costly than integer-based storage, you can see why the current systems are in place.

Tips for developing with dates

The lessons to learn from this, when dealing with Dates
• Establish and test to your boundaries in the past and the future
• Test NULL values
• Test in more than one language
• Test ordering of data between the 9th of the month and the 10th of the month (one-digit to two-digit date)
• Ensure that localised dates are handled (13th day of the month will usually trigger this)

Most importantly of all - try not to re-invent the wheel, there are enough flawed date storage systems without adding another one.

Apple Programmers Get Step Ladder To iCloud

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Registered members of the Apple Developer Program can now get early access to the new Apple iCloud service.

Early access in this case will mean that users can migrate their existing MobileMe accounts to the as yet unreleased Apple iCloud service.

Popular among Apple devotees, the company's MobileMe brand encompasses a collection of subscription-based services and software offerings, originally launched in January 2000 as a web-based extension to Apple software services.

Apple describes iCloud as a, "Breakthrough set of free new cloud services that work with applications on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac or PC to automatically and wirelessly store your content in iCloud and automatically and wirelessly push it to all your devices."

At this 'early' stage, the option to migrate is only open to registered Apple programmers who can visit to initiate the migration. The public release is expected to drop this autumn with a range of storage pricing options upward from the initial free 5GB.

"Today it is a real hassle and very frustrating to keep all your information and content up-to-date across all your devices," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "iCloud keeps your important information and content up to date across all your devices. All of this happens automatically and wirelessly, and because it's integrated into our apps you don't even need to think about it -- it all just works."

Apple iCloud.png

Lies, damn lies and software development surveys

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It was British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli who coined the phrase, "Lies, damn lies, and statistics..." and given the amount of PR fluff that the IT industry throws up in terms of "shocking new stats", the man was clearly before his time.

Only yesterday we saw this story on the newswires...

"The Mac operating systems have surpassed Linux in popularity as a development environment in North America according to an Evans Data survey. Although Windows remains overwhelmingly the most popular operating system for development with over 80% of developers using it, Linux has slipped to third place with only 5.6 percent using it as their primary development platform, while 7.9 percent now use Mac OS."

This is (arguably) about as watertight a prediction as me telling you that Jedward's next album is going to a classical retrospective of Prokofiev's greatest works i.e. somewhat questionable.


Data from the Eclipse Foundation download stats would say Linux is easily the #2 developer platform. Mac is a distant third.

So take stats with a pinch of salt yeah?

Application Lifecycle Management specialist Serena Software has also recently conducted a survey; this analysis concentrating specifically on respondents responsible for managing application development and delivery within their companies. Below are a couple of the results:

Do you think there are gaps around the management of software development in your organisation?
Yes = 77%
No = 23%

Are you looking at Agile development methods? Do you think it will have an impact on the business process for managing how software development is carried out?
Yes and it will = 66%
Yes and it will not = 0%
No and it would = 25%
No and it would not = 9%

Inferring some meaning from these stats, Serena suggests that although The Agile Development Manifesto is more than a decade old now, so far it has not been taken up enthusiastically in the industry sectors that the company serves.

According to Serena's senior VP of worldwide marketing David Hurwitz, "The results from this customer survey show that the number of our customers deploying Agile as they want to speed up application development is growing, as they have to speed up application development to keep up with business demand.

"Moving to Agile benefits the app dev team, but also has an impact on release and change management. The understanding of this impact is growing, simply because agile is moving up into markets where deployment and release management is critical to the organisation functioning properly -- and where audit and tracking of development work is a necessary overhead.

"Making Agile methods work in this environment needs an understanding of the gaps that customers report they have and then working to bridge those gaps through automation and better processes."

The main question Serena gets asked around Agile is how it can be linked into the overall application delivery process. Also how the ideas that surround Agile can be used to make the full application delivery supply chain more responsive as a whole.

For my part, I think Serena's survey was a lot more targeted (only 35 respondents in fact) than Evans Data carpet bomb of a claim. But keep reading these comments, take them as broad brush "trending" suggestions rather than cast in stone hard and fast facts -- and keep a sceptical eye focused at all times.

Do drag-and-drop tools bankrupt application developers?

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Hot on my news pile this morning is comment from GenieMobile. The company's GenieBuilder app building platform is designed to enable "non-technical users" to build, publish and manage mobile and web apps for all major smartphones.

Now I am always wary of these drag-and-drop non-technical options for app construction; defeating the need for developers to exist in the first place bankrupts their very rasion d'être doesn't it?

Looking closer, GenieBuilder apps appear to be modular and, as the company puts it, highly configurable and branded for businesses.

According to GenieMobile, "We currently offer apps for events, publishing and education and will be adding more verticals over time. Our apps take shape entirely through an XML configuration file sent directly to the phone, meaning apps can be built in minutes and completely updated at any time."

So hang on, you are saying the apps are built ON THE PHONE?

"In a way yes -- the apps are published and downloaded to the phone through normal channels (Apple App Store etc). Once on the phone, the structure, functions, branding and content can be changed by pushing an XML configuration file update directly to the phone, without republishing the app. Anything about them can be changed except the app icon on the phone home screen," said the company.


Now much as I am against the general idea of dumbed down drag-and-drop development, GenieBuilder "may" have a point when the company points out that to date, much of the "excellence" in mobile apps has been largely seen in consumer facing environments.

Is that true? Well -- you don't have to look very far to find one of the "analysts predicts mobile enterprise boom" reports now do you?

"What will be important to software application developers with regard to this technology proposition is the fact that 10 years ago a web developer hand-coded HTML. But now Joomla or Wordpress does it, leaving the developer to concentrate on the higher value activities -- and this is what GenieBuilder achieves for mobile apps," said the company.

The concept here is that mobile developers are left to concentrate on the design, not the routine delivery of mobile apps (back to the Joomla/Wordpress analogy) and so more companies can (in theory) offer websites as part of their portfolio once these tools have simplified delivery.

GenieMobile rounds this debate out by saying, "Frequently the wisdom of developing native apps at all is questioned and compared to producing mobile websites, very often linked to the promise of substantial improvements with HTML5.

"It is widely understood that the user experience and benefits of not requiring a constant data connection favour native apps, but that cost of production and maintenance favours web apps. What we mean is by unifying development across platforms and lowering costs and maintenance, the prime reason to favour web apps over native apps development is removed."

So, do drag-and-drop tools bankrupt application developers?

Not always, perhaps, maybe?

What will Windows 8 look like?

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Microsoft has previewed working prototypes of its next operating system (OS) on the MSDN developer portal. The cleverly titled "Windows 8" OS is built with touch applications in mind and (unsurprisingly perhaps) looks ever such a little bit like Mac OS X Lion with its large screen icons, which are similar to Apple's Launchpad in some senses.

Julie Larson-Green, corporate VP for Windows Experience has said that, "Windows 8 is a reimagining of Windows, from the chip to the interface."

She probably said it that way because she's a "Windows Experience VP", so let's not judge -- let's just try and work out what she meant.

June 2011's MSDN pages suggest that the tile-based Start screen will replace the Windows Start menu and that apps are shown as "live tiles" with always up-to-date information from the apps themselves.

Microsoft promises, "fluid, natural switching between running apps" - the company also specifies that although Windows 8 will be "optimized" for touch (let's leave the Z in on that one!), that it will work equally well via keyboard or mouse direction.

Also planned for Windows 8, we hear that Microsoft is intending to provide the ability to snap and resize an app to the side of the screen, "So you can really multitask using the capabilities of Windows."

It is also predicted to be rich in, "Web-connected and web-powered apps built using HTML5 and JavaScript that have access to the full power of the PC."

The below video is entitled Building "Windows 8" - Video #1 and is presented courtesy of the Microsoft News Center.

What does 'drilling into the cloud application layer' really mean?

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Those of us with a ticket to ride (to the cloud) gathered in a central London location earlier this week to hear Rackspace talk about its new Critical Sites service.

It's always nice to press the flesh with the real CEOs behind the IT industry -- and I got a quick chance to meet Rackspace president Lanham Napier at this week's event.

Napier is an affable Texan powerhouse of cloud-speak and enthusiasm. He is, as they say, a maverick -- and has been ranked as a captain of industry by Forbes, CNN and probably Ben & Jerry's ice cream for all I know.

So Napier and his board were in town to launch Critical Sites for (as Rackspace puts in) "extreme" mission-critical cloud deployments.

"The Critical Sites offering drills into the application layer to deliver mission-critical support for clients' most important websites and applications. Critical Sites customers receive access to a suite of performance management tools built to gain real-time visibility of the end user experience," said the company, in a press statement.

But what does 'drilling into the cloud application layer' really mean?


What Rackspace is talking about here is application analysis. It's all very well for a developer to design an application (and in this case a web facing cloud hosted application) and put it through its paces with pre-deployment stress testing.

But post-deployment, things start to happen.

Real world (and real time) data flows start to impact the application and unplanned spikes start to hit it, so that its traffic register starts to go off the scale.

Rackspace is seeking to provide tools for advanced application and website monitoring along with simulated load testing to avoid problems before they occur.

The company says it has a team of web-scale engineers on hand (for Critical Sites customers) to deliver services designed to give deep insights into application performance.

Deep insights? More industry-speak?

No not necessarily -- this probably isn't a bad way of explaining the fact that customer-developers will need "opacity" into what is happening with their cloud app once they shift it off to the cloud provider (in this case Rackspace).

Pushing applications to the cloud does necessitate a certain distancing between the provider and the customer. Whether you call it opacity, deep insight or just simply a "proper look at what data is coming in and out of the cloud application" -- this stuff will be needed as the cloud now evolves.

As for the Prez (he lets me call him that) and I -- well we're booked to go wild turkey shooting up in Amarillo (Texas) this fall. He's promised to show me the way ☺

Business-to-employee applications, what's that then?

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So last night I was reporting on a company called AppCentral. These guys describe themselves as a mobile application management player and the company has just built a new online Developer Lab resource in an effort to encourage interest in its tools and support services.

The new lab allows developers to test out apps on the AppCentral platform. There's also a free storefront to distribute their mobile apps to both iOS and Android phones.

That's all shiny and lovely isn't it? But please tell me you're asking "so what?"

Well, ABI Research expects over 830 million enterprise mobile users by 2016.

But then, "analyst house predicts rise in enterprise mobile usage over next five-years" -- is just about the biggest "so what" of them all right?


The part of this story that stood out to me was that AppCentral suggests that "business-to-employee" (B2E) apps are expected to be one of the largest growth areas of the mobile revolution over the next few years.

B2E I hear you ask?

Examples here might be employee benefits reports, employee offers, human resources, as well as corporate announcement and news applications.

So that's just "internal communications" given a fancy name then right?

I found the best definition of B2E on a website called netlingo, so if you will excuse the use of Z, "B2E uses the web to centralize a wide range of applications, services, content and tools -- it allows employees to personalize these offerings in ways that make sense to them. Unlike an intranet, which is usually based on a top-down view of what's happening in the organization, a B2E interface can be customized by the employees, based on the services they use."

So that's all clear then, right?

Take two (PC) tablets and call me in the morning

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Developers are (according to some vendors) becoming "enlivened" by the musings of tablet PC makers from Apple to BlackBerry, as they "talk up" the opportunities for business applications development.

But, says KeyPoint Technologies, the market may not quite be about to "burgeon" to the degree that many vendors would have us believe.

Despite this, Deloitte has claimed that 25% of tablet PCs will be bought by enterprises in 2011. For developers, this would mean a whole new market and new opportunities for their app offerings.

Research released by KeyPoint Technologies, however, paints a bleaker picture for tablets being used for business at the moment. Tablet adoption in business is generally low says the company -- and users feel they are unable to perform central business tasks such as writing reports and presentations.

Typing long documents is just too frustrating due to poor auto-correct (and predictive text) functionality.

· 44% of tablet users consider text input to be the primary frustration with their tablet.
· Only 23% of tablet owners use them for common business functions such as writing reports, articles and presentations.

The research indicates that text input is the chief frustration when using a tablet for anything more than passive browsing. There is an 'input gap' between the level to which tablets (currently) support the speed and accuracy desired by users for text input - particularly business users - and the current functionality available.


Until this issue is resolved tablet adoption in the workplace is going to remain low says Keypoint and developing for business across tablet platforms (including the arguably more business-focused BlackBerry Playbook) is not going to be a prosperous game.

There is, perhaps, a clear opportunity for here developers to gain the competitive edge by working on text input in their apps and producing something truly business friendly.

"It's clear that text input will be the next battlefield in tablet computing, as manufacturers try to steal a march on each other and improve the utility of their tablets," says Sunil Motaparti, CTO of KeyPoint Technologies. "The poor typing experience leaves people viewing the devices as a compromised hybrid, mid-way between a smartphone and a laptop. Only with improved - faster and more accurate - text input technologies, can the tablet become a realistic replacement for a laptop and a real aid to productivity."

The research suggests that tablet user's biggest frustration with the devices is typing long documents of over 500 words (44 per cent), well ahead of battery life (36 per cent) and connectivity concerns (23 per cent). When questioned, users reported that it is not the on-screen keyboard itself that causes issues, but poor auto-correction, predictive text and copy and paste functions associated with it.

The primary research findings are based on responses from 1011 people in the United States who use tablet computers such as the iPad. The research was commissioned by KeyPoint Technologies and conducted independently by Opinion Matters in June 2011.

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