A vision of technology to come - July to September

The Bluefin standard promises to unravel the tangled San market, Sun's Mad Hatter offers users an open-source desktop stack, and...

The Bluefin standard promises to unravel the tangled San market, Sun's Mad Hatter offers users an open-source desktop stack, and mySAP SCM 4.0 aims to boost supply chain management.


July: Bluefin

If the Storage Network Industry Association has its way, mid-July will be a turning point in the evolution of the Bluefin storage management standard. The industry body is conducting a formal review process. SNIA  wants to create a plan that would enable it to continue developing, supporting and maintaining the Bluefin specification as a universal industry standard.


Bluefin will go some way towards solving the tangled mess that constitutes the storage aea network (San) market. Sans are still largely proprietary, and it is difficult to get different vendors’ equipment to interoperate. It will be a key standard in the development of the storage virtualisation market, which abstracts physical storage devices for easier system management.


From a business perspective, Bluefin will enable many storage devices to be managed from a single console, reducing costs for IT departments. The main issue will be persuading vendors with their own vested interest in storage lock-in to make their devices compatible with it.




August: Mad Hatter

Sun Microsystems is expected to release the commercial version of its Mad Hatter product set, which offers customers an open-source desktop stack, with Linux at the operating system level. The Gnome user interface will underpin three applications: the Mozilla browser, e-mail and address book suite, Sun's own StarOffice office productivity suite and, finally, the Evolution personal information manager from Ximian, a Linux desktop and server software vendor famous for emulating Microsoft’s products in open-source form. It is also involved in Mono, an open-source implementation of the Microsoft .net web services framework.


The idea behind Mad Hatter is to reduce the pressure on businesses to update desktop software so frequently. Changes to licensing conditions imposed by Microsoft last year rewarded companies that upgraded their software regularly, while imposing what amounts to a financial penalty in some cases for companies that prefer to upgrade less frequently.


Sun signed an agreement with Ximian to integrate the Evolution desktop product with its Sun One Messaging Server, claiming that the software combination will cost a 10th of the equivalent Microsoft Exchange implementation. The Sun One Connector will ship in the middle of this year.


Sun will offer customers the chance to run Mad Hatter with Citrix or Tarantella software to create a centralised desktop productivity system. However, the company's previous ventures into thin-client desktop software have not fared well in the past. A much-touted Internet ASP version of Star Office, called StarOffice Portal, never really materialised, and hidden away in the WebTop applications component of the Sun One architecture.


Misguided thin-client shenanigans not withstanding, with an increasing number of organisations considering alternatives to Microsoft on the desktop (especially in the public sector), Mad Hatter represents a significant threat for the company in its fat client form.



September: mySAP SCM 4.0

SAP's supply chain management software will integrate the various components of its SCM solution into a single package. There are several strands to the company's SCM strategy, including its supply chain event manager, an object tracking application that enables customers to track individual objects within the supply chain.


The software will reveal a greater investment in collaboration, using portals that will enable multiple partners in the supply chain to take a holistic view of product flow. The company will introduce an inventory collaboration hub that alerts partners to particular inventory-driven events, helping to drive automatic replenishment.


The company will increase its focus on specific sectors through its 23 industry units, identifying the idiosyncrasies within each industry and developing its software to take account of them. Another significant development to the software is that it will slot into the the Enterprise Services Architecture web services framework announced by the company in January, along with the NetWeaver application integration hub that underpins it.



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