December 2012 Archives

BlackBerry 10: magnum opus or magnificent octopus?

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With the BlackBerry 10 launch almost a month away now on the 30 January 2013, the "excitement" is growing for what may (or may not be) RIM's magnum opus.

The Computer Weekly Developer Network spoke to William Vablais, head of developer relations EMEA for RIM to get a sense of this portentous pending product promotion.

Vablais himself is now working to extend the developer community visibility of RIM in EMEA and says that he is in fact one of 16 evangelists in the region.

Speaking to him about the negative backlashes his company has undergone he said that the main thing is that his team just carries on doing what they do.

"Last summer was a bit of a tipping point and we are seeing very large crowds at our EMEA developer events as people are excited about BlackBerry 10 and they can see that it is delivering a) for users and also b) for developers."
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"There is more than one SDK on offer here and we know that there are many different types of developers out there. Some developers just like writing web apps and some others (for example) just like writing games, so we created a bunch of SDKs suited to a range of different use cases, languages, environments and developer styles."

"What has been very popular so far at the BB 10 Jams is clear from the developer interest shown. These events are run as day long events with an afternoon session -- the pm training focuses on Web Works / HTML 5 and the other being focused on C and C++... so far we have found the split to be relatively 50:50 across both channels."

What RIM has done here is to create a developer framework with a consistent user interface across all environments -- and this is Cascade.

Vablais continues, "We have not made a distinction between what developers might want to develop in terms of whether they are looking to build for business or consumer. But there is certainly a consumer-facing emphasis to start with, but the device itself is simply a vehicle and the developers have the opportunity to take it forward in the way they want to now."

"One might suggest that with Android's marketplace now being populated by over half a million apps, discoverability can be tough. So, revenue generating opportunities are there with BlackBerry 10 and we have the case studies to back it up."

"I am testing a device now and using it as my primary device and the components of it that I use most are related to the fact that I speak several languages and the auto-fill function will work for different languages depending on what language message I am writing in (this is a function that is built in - not an extra app). We are also seeing "one gesture" intuitiveness with a lot of application functionality."

If Cascade proves as popular as RIM would have us believe it will be... and the developers produce the apps that we want to use... and the users snap up the apps and start buying more devices... then we have a magnum opus in BlackBerry 10 -- if not, then you might be looking at more of a magnificent octopus.


RIM: developers like us "broadly and significantly"

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Research In Motion (RIM) has released the "gold" build of the BlackBerry 10 developer toolkit with all the final tools, components and APIs to build apps for the BlackBerry 10.

NOTE: Launch date for the BlackBerry 10 will be January 30, 2013

RIM says that "top" application developers have already committed to BlackBerry 10 in categories including games, multimedia, business and productivity, published media and social networking.

The company says that over the past few months, developer outlook toward RIM has improved "broadly and significantly" and that in a recent Pivot Point Research survey 58% of developers surveyed would recommend BlackBerry 10 as a development platform, a 123% increase from May to October, 2012.

"We have been actively engaged with developers from around the world for many months and as we near the final weeks toward the launch of BlackBerry 10, the growing dedication and commitment we see from our developer community is truly outstanding," said Alec Saunders, VP of developer relations and ecosystems at Research In Motion.

Don't believe us?

Still prefer your iPhone and/or Android unit and wouldn't touch a BlackBerry if it was served up in front of you with a roast beef sandwich and a cold beer on the side?
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Here's what the application developers are saying...

"We are excited to offer PressReader on the new BlackBerry 10 when it debuts early in 2013. With PressReader, BlackBerry 10 customers will enjoy access to over 2,300 full-content digital newspapers and magazines in a highly engaging and immersive reading experience with just one subscription."
- Alex Kroogman, CEO of NewspaperDirect.

"Marmalade launched a major BlackBerry 10 promotion to our developer community in September and the uptake of the offer has far exceeded our expectations - so there's clearly a huge interest in developing for the new platform. We've got thousands of developers currently working on new and engaging apps and games for the BlackBerry PlayBook and BlackBerry 10 platform using the Marmalade cross-platform SDK, and we're seeing a steady stream of content from our developer community being submitted to the BlackBerry World store."
- Harvey Elliott, Managing Director and COO, Marmalade.

ERP is dead, long live two-tier ERP

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As SAP has been grabbing the lion's share of the ERP headlines in recent weeks, it seems only fair and just to look a little further afield.

Updates on the ERP newswires today even feature commentary on the fact that some of SAP's products are now being certified for use with Oracle's Database Appliance.

All SAP products based on SAP NetWeaver 7.x that are also certified for Oracle Database 11g Release 2 (single node or RAC) can now be used with the Oracle Database Appliance.

But the market is not just developing with these two firms running the show.

Magic ERP Quadrants from Gartner also feature Oracle's wider product set (including eBusiness Suite, Peoplesoft and JD Edwards), Sage ERP, Microsoft Dynamics, Epicor ERP, Lawson M3 ERP Enterprise and Infor.

Is mobile ERP the next big thing?

But what's really coming next in Enterprise Resource Planning and is it just mobile interface extensions to ERP suite so that users can interact and view dashboards on the move?

The truth is that mobile ERP really IS the next big thing...

... but there are extensions to this truth i.e. a new breed of two-tier ERP is surfacing and the practice is currently being championed by business management software company NetSuite.

The two-tier model has been constructed in order to allow business customers to keep hold of their "on-premise" ERP investments in Oracle (or some other ERP system), but at the same time still be able to equip and fit out subsidiary companies (or smaller divisions of a main company) with what is hoped to be a more agile cloud-based ERP/financials system that gives the central HQ operation the real-time visibility it needs, but at a lower price.

In basic terms, two-tier ERP enables subsidiaries to tailor the ERP to their own special needs and support their local accounting requirements. It ensures that a remote subsidiary doesn't end up with a burdensome, hard-to-maintain on-premise ERP deployment.

The developer message

The message for software application developers who will have to work to engineer the integration and deployment of these systems is that they can keep hold of investment in your existing ERP systems at the corporate level, while "empowering" these subsidiaries and divisions with a second ERP system that gives them more agility and better total cost of ownership.

NetSuite's Craig Sullivan is bullish about his assertion that the old ERP systems drain the innovation from the IT budget. The company's VP & GM of international argues the key to knowing how aligned your ERP systems are with your business imperatives is measuring how much of the IT budget is devoted to innovation rather than maintenance.

"Analysts from Forrester to Gartner measure this closely and have found maintenance spend ranges from 50% to more than 90% of a typical IT budget.
Simply changing the equation and reallocating the IT budget from maintenance to innovation is almost impossible with old, on-premise ERP because every costly upgrade, patch and fix equals money and time that isn't spent on tailoring ERP to meet the needs of the business," said Sullivan.

New decentralised business = decentralised ERP

So we operate in a world of increasingly decentralised business. Software application developers have to be able to work with more distributed a) teams and b) users -- and plugging a firm's ERP centric so-called "systems of record" into these decentralised hubs will not be easy.

"Old [non decentralised] ERP forces you into an expensive centralised structure unless you can afford to dispatch IT teams to every corner of the globe," said NetSuite's Sullivan. It means maintaining desktops at multiple locations, upgrading clients and dealing with information fragmentation across local clients."

So the call here is to get out of the stone age ERP age. Is a call to shout that "ERP is dead, so long live two-tier ERP" too strong? NetSuite's Sullivan speaks of what he calls "modern demands for real-time information and boundless flexibility" and says that there is only one answer available to us here: the cloud.

So going forward then -- you can forget centralised ERP as we move to decentralised cloud-based ERP with automated upgrades that aligns continuously with a firms operating environment.

Does it all sound to perfect and conceptual or are we about to toast a new monarch?

Gaming supercomputers tackle HIV/AIDS research

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Reports suggest that Graphic Processing Units (GPUs) made by Nvidia are helping scientists advance their HIV/AIDS research.

Researchers in Barcelona have simulated the behaviour of the initial crucial step in the HIV maturation process, which starts the infectious phase of HIV.

By providing this new visibility into this process, biotech researchers can potentially design new antiretroviral drugs to halt the HIV maturation process to stop it from becoming infectious.

The Barcelona researchers achieved this breakthrough by harnessing the power of thousands of GPU accelerators on a distributed network of individual computers --not unlike high-end PC gaming rigs -- which allowed them to utilise supercomputing processing power typically available on dedicated multi-million dollar set ups.

Using GPUGrid.net - a volunteer distributed-computing effort that uses spare time on the GPUs of thousands of volunteers - Spanish researchers made an important breakthrough in the quest to better understand the HIV virus.

The story is detailed on a blog from GPU specialist Nvidia below:

It turns out, the HIV protease acts like a pair of scissors. These "scissors proteins," cuts the long chain of connected proteins that form HIV into individual proteins. These individual proteins, or virons, then take viral genomes from one cell to another. Using GPU-accelerated software called ACEMD, researchers showed how the first HIV "scissors proteins" can cut themselves out from within the middle of these poly-protein chains, beginning the infectious phase of HIV.
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By providing this new visibility into how the HIV protease behaves, biotech researchers can potentially design new antiretroviral drugs to halt the HIV maturation process to stop it from becoming infectious.

With this tremendous computing power at their disposal, the researchers were able to run thousands of complex computer simulations of HIV protease, each for hundreds of nanoseconds for a total of almost a millisecond. That gives them a very high-probability that their simulation represented real-world behaviors.

Simulations of this length and complexity would have been unfeasible to achieve using a computing system based on CPUs alone.

These findings have been published in the latest edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS).

Top predictions, about IT predictions, for 2013

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'Tis the season to be jolly and spread good cheer throughout the land.

Plus of course... 'tis also the season to produce a "what to expect in 2013" press release.

As a collective group of individuals all hell bent on all looking for "the next big thing", it's no surprise to find that we use December to cast a little informed conjecture forward as we try and pinpoint trend(s) for the year(s) ahead.

But is any real insight uncovered?

Or is the whole process just a regurgitated process of corporate showboating?

Surely we can make an intelligent guess at most of the growing IT trends without companies trying to tell us what 2013 will bring us:

• Cloud
• Social enterprise
• Mobile
• 3-D Printing
• Big Data (and In-Memory Analytics)
• In-Memory Analytics
• BYOD and Mobile Device Management
• Gorgonzola

So for example...

"In 2013, we expect to see a growth in traffic for social media channels and Internet sales. Organisations will focus on how to monetise social media as a channel to market and hence drive revenue generation. Cloud as a commercial and technology delivery model is expected to flourish. In 2012, organisations explored packaged private cloud and custom packaged cloud for hardware, software and datacentres. Going forward, we expect businesses to demand more of managed service models from the cloud providers," said Ramyani Basu, senior manager, at global strategy consultancy, A.T. Kearney

Citrix meanwhile predicts that 2013 will see a need for IT departments to focus on governing apps and data, rather than the type of device.
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James Stevenson, area vice-president UK, Ireland and South Africa at Citrix is on the record saying, "2012 saw a rise in the number of business applications available on alternative platforms, with the large developer following of Android and iOS leading the charge. Consumers have become accustomed to downloading apps like Evernote and Skype - as well as tools for collaboration, social networking and storage - onto their smart phones and tablets with ease, and then using them at work. With this in mind, there will be growing pressure on the IT department to monitor the complexity of all these proprietary platforms to ensure the business still has some measure of control, or risk complexity, confusion and opening their network to the threat of malicious attack."

Felicity Wohltman, VP of solutions at Mindjet, a provider of social collaboration and work management solutions, also has commentary to add saying that the way we work is changing -- and it's something CIO's and organisational heads are starting to address.

"Social enterprise collaboration has come a long way in the last 12 months, with many of the big names in IT, such as Microsoft and VMware, making moves into this space, proving it's on people's agendas. But more needs to be done. McKinsey's Social Economy report says that 80% of organisations using these technologies are still 'developing' the way they're used, with most tools not meeting expectations, or providing any real return on investment," said Wohltman.

"But with potential saving of $1.3 billion and a 20-25% increase in productivity, tools need to stop being an add-on and be part of the way people work together on an everyday basis. 2013 will be the year to hone these tools and make this happen," she added.

Interesting, but, still nothing Earth shatteringly new then... until wait, hang on.

Ian Kilpatrick, chairman of Wick Hill Group, gives his top IT trends for 2013 and says that wireless requirements have been significantly incrementing over the last year and this trend will continue in 2013.

"BYOD has changed both the data transfer and performance expectations of users. However, these expectations have not been met, with many networks still inadequate in their coverage and performance. The new 802.11ac standard, with 1 gigabit per second throughput rates, will be a key driver in organisations moving to high-density wireless in 2013. High density wireless will provide companies with high coverage and high performance, supporting business critical applications and delivering complete site coverage," he said.

Thanks Ian, you win the prize for "most interesting and original forward looking comment that did not blatantly mention cloud computing" for 2012

Oh and that last "Gorgonzola" bullet?

We just threw that in to see if you were still awake. Thanks to everyone who has read our blogs this year! Happy "holidays" as we now say ☺

Enterprise social networking is ALREADY the 'next big thing'

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As technology industry observers, stakeholders, practitioners and (dare we say it) even press and analysts, we are always searching for the 'next big thing'.

If we can predict the next paradigm shift, the next sea change of positive disruption or the next strategic inflexion point then we can channel our users and software application development efforts to fuelling further development and adoption.

The risk here of course is that we are already sitting on the next big thing and that "thing" is already a massive growing entity on an adoption curve that we need to harness and profit from.

The paradigm in motion then is enterprise social networking.

IBM for one is pushing massively in this space and the firm has this week announced new social business software to help collaborate in the cloud using a broad range of mobile devices.
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The products include the new IBM SmartCloud services include new social networking features and the release of IBM SmartCloud Docs, a cloud-based office productivity suite, which allows users to simultaneously collaborate on word processing, spreadsheet and presentation documents to improve productivity.

Do you need further proof?

Regular readers of the Computer Weekly Developer Network will know what a fan we are of IT analysts, so let's turn to some research carried out by Forrester.

According to Forrester Research, the market opportunity for social enterprise apps is expected to grow at a rate of 61 percent through 2016, reaching US$6.4 billion.

This is a market opportunity inside the zone of the 'next big thing' that is, to a degree, just waiting for programmers to grasp hold of and start creating more apps for - many of them being mobile of course.

Touched by your presence (awareness) dear

IBM SmartCloud Docs and the new services in IBM SmartCloud for Social Business mean that when working on a document in the cloud, the "presence awareness" and instant messaging capabilities allow users to see if a document co-editor is online and available to chat in real time.

"As the mobile workforce moves beyond gaining access to email and calendars to collaborate and generate new ideas and be more efficient anytime, anywhere, on any device, the intersection of social, mobile, and cloud becomes even more critical," said Alistair Rennie, general manager, social business, IBM.

"Social and mobile are driving business transformation, helping all aspects of an organisation. The new features join IBM's SmartCloud for Social Business portfolio which includes business-grade file sharing, access to communities, online meetings, instant messaging, email and calendar in the cloud."

Just remember, nobody ever got fired for following an IBM social enterprise software strategy, not yet anyway - right?

Is Gartner teaching us to brush our tongues?

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Technology analyst firm Gartner has been charging its "let's coin a new industry buzzword" division with additional pre-Christmas duties this month and it appears that the team has been nothing if not productive.

The next challenge for the IT department means war.

From CIOs to application developers, we need to ready ourselves for "cross-functional communication and collaboration" at the highest level.

This is not just collaboration; this is extreme collaboration (XC) no less!

A DEFINITION: XC is enabled by combing four nexus (i.e. connected) forces into a pattern that can dramatically innovate the way people behave, communicate, work together and maintain relationships -- often across wide organisational and geographic boundaries -- to collectively deliver breakthrough process performance.

"Collaboration is a critical activity in many operational business processes, both structured and unstructured. An XC environment is essentially a virtual war room or crisis centre, where people can come together to collaboratively work on a shared purpose," said Janelle Hill, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

"This environment is available 24/7, thus enabling people to work when, where and how they need to in order to meet shared goals and outcomes. What makes it extreme is people's willingness to cross geographic, organisational, political, management boundaries, to pool their collective skills and resources to solve problems and move toward the attainment of a shared, ambitious goal."

XC is charecterised by big chunks of web-based virtual collaboration as we push towards what the analyst firm has labeled as near-real-time communication activities -- such as texting, tweeting or updating Facebook.

Has Gartner stumbled upon (excuse the social media related pun) a new paradigm shift in the making here?

Or did the team that taught us to brush our tongues (see video below) just work out what they could get us to talk about next?


Salesforce: multi-tenant apps paved the way to cloud

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Not quite an 'end of 2012' story (but they won't be far off), it appears that salesforce.com will soon be hanging out the bunting (not sure if they do that in San Francisco) to celebrate its first "billion transaction day" on the salesforce platform.

To put this into perspective, salesforce's first 500 million transaction day was last year and its first 150 million transaction day was in 2009.

From saleforce's point of view, the company says that this milestone will be the "culmination of a commitment" made over 13 years ago when it took the decision to run with a multi-tenant approach to software architecture.
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From a software application development perspective, the company is claiming that it has helped back an architectural approach in multi-tenancy that has helped define the future characteristics of not just cloud applications, but all applications.

NOTE: TechTarget defines multi-tenancy as follows: [this] is an architecture in which a single instance of a software application serves multiple customers. Each customer is called a tenant. Tenants may be given the ability to customise some parts of the application, such as colour of the user interface ( UI) or business rules, but they cannot customize the application's code.

Multi-tenant apps paved the way to cloud

The firm goes so far as to suggest that this adherence to the multi-tenant app philosophy left them with a perfect stepping stone to move to (and therefore provide) a 100% 'as a service' app development platform.

So as salesforce's customers now share a common technology infrastructure and every customer, employee and partner is on the same version so that the firm asserts, "Everyone contributes to the continuous innovation of our infrastructure."

While multi-tenancy may be a pre-requisite for the public cloud. Hybrid and private instances do "not necessarily" need to be structured architecturally in the one-host many-customer model. So with hybrid's undeniable importance and gaining popularity, should this spin on multi-tenancy importance be a wake up call for developers?

The answer is yes, but not every time. Take a multi-level approach to multi-tenancy, it doesn't suit every scenario.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from December 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

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January 2013 is the next archive.

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