Posts Tagged ‘ Sales Force Automation ’

Get Your Java with Google App Engine

Google’s App Engine service has embraced Java’s programming language. The most requested feature for App Engine since its exception, Java support is currently in “testing mode,” although Google eventually plans on bringing GAE’s Java tools up to speed with its current Python support.

As Google’s service for hosting scalable and flexible web applications, App Engine is synonymous with cloud computing for Google. Java is one of the most frequently-used languages for coding applications on the web, and by adding Java Google is filling a major break in its cloud services plan. Also by adding Java, Google is catching up with one if its fiercest competitors in cloud computing, Amazon. Amazon’s Web Services platform has provided support for Java virtual machines for some time now.

In addition, Java support also allows for the possibility of making App Engine a means of running applications for Google’s Android mobile platform. Although no plans for Google’s Android GAW apps have not been outlined as of yet, it appears as if Google is preparing for an effortless and quick way to develop for Android, as Java is available on the device as well as the server.

With the addition of Java support to Google App Engine, other programming languages such as JavaScript, Ruby and maybe Scala, can run on Java virtual machines as well. The possibility of JRuby support or support for other JVM languages arriving any time in the near future, however, is unlikely due to the experimental status of Java.

Those wishing to play around with Google App Engine’s new Java support can add their name to the list on the sign up page; the first 10,000 developers will be rewarded with a spot in the testing group.

Along with Java support, the latest update for Google App Engine includes support for cron jobs which enables programmers to easily schedule recurring tasks such as weekly reports. The Secure Data Connector is another new feature; the Secure Data Connector lets Google App Engine access data behind a firewall. Thirdly, there is a new database import tool; the database import too makes it easier to transport large amounts of data into App Engine.

In summary, by embracing the programming language of Java, Google is filling a gap in its cloud services plan and catching up with competitors like Amazon. For more information, please visit nubifer.com.

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Thoughts on Google Chrome OS

As a leading cloud computing and SaaS provider, everyone at Nubifer is excited about Google’s new operating system, Chrome. Designed, in Google’s words, for “people who live on the web,” (like us!) Google’s Chrome browser launched in late 2008 and now an extension of Google Chrome—the Google Chrome Operating System—has arrived. Google demonstrated its open source PC operating system on Nov. 19 and revealed that its code will be open-sourced later this year, with netbooks running Google Chrome OS available for consumers as early as the second half of 2010.

Citing speed, simplicity and security as key features, Google Chrome OS is designed as a modified browser which allows netbooks to carry out everyday computing with web-based applications. Google Chrome OS basically urges consumers to abandon the computing experience that they are used to in favor of one that exists entirely in the cloud (albeit Google’s cloud), which, you have to admit, is a pretty enticing offer. The obvious benefits of the Google Chrome OS are saving money (cloud storage replaces pricey external hard-disc drives) and gaining security (thanks to Google’s monitoring for malware in Chrome OS apps).

While may comparisons have been made between Google Chrome OS and Android (admittedly they do overlap somewhat), Chrome is designed for those who spend the majority of their time on the web, and is thus being created to power computers of varying size, while Android was designed to work across devices ranging from netbooks to cell phones. Google Chrome OS will run on x86 and ARM chips and Google is currently teaming up with several OEMs to offer multiple netbooks in 2010. The foundation of Google Chrome is this: Google Chrome runs within a new windowing system on top of a Linux kernel. The web is the platform for application developers, with new applications able to be written using already-in-place web technologies and existing web-based applications being able to work automatically.

Five benefits of using Google Chrome OS are laid out by Wired.com: Cost, Speed, Compatibility, Portability and New Applications. While netbooks are inexpensive, users often fork out a sizable chunk of change for a Windows license, but using Google’s small, fast-booting platform allows for this cost to be greatly downsized. Those with Linux versions of netbooks also ready know that they cost less than $50 on average and that is due to a Microsoft tax; because Chrome Os is based on Linux it would mostly likely be free. As for speed, Chrome OS is created to run on low-powered Atom and ARM processors, with Google promising boot times measured in mere seconds.

Drivers have caused major problems for those using an OS other than Windows XP on a netbook, but there is a chance that Google may devise an OS able to be downloaded, unloaded onto any machine and ready to use—all without being designed specifically for different netbook models. And now we come to portability, as Chrome allows for all of Google’s services, from Gmail and Google Docs to Picasa, to be built-in and available for offline access using Google Gears. Thus users won’t have to worry about not having data available when not connected to the Internet. As for new applications, it remains unclear whether Google will buy open-source options like the Firefox-based Songbird music player (which has the ability to sync with an iPod and currently runs on some Linux flavors) or if it will create its own.

Another company, Phoenix Technologies, is also offering an operating system, called HyperSpace. Instead of serving as a substitution for Windows, HyperSpace is an optional, complementary (notice it’s spelled with an “e,” not an “i”) mini OS which is already featured on some netbooks. Running parallel to Windows as an instant-on environment, HyperSpace allows netbooks to perform Internet-based functions, such as browsers, e-mail, multimedia players, etc., without booting into Windows. Phoenix Technologies’ idea is similar to Google’s, but Phoenix is a lesser-known company and is taking different approach at offering the mini OS than Google is with its Chrome OS.

Google’s eventual goal is to produce an OS that mirrors the streamlined, quick and easy characteristics of its individual web products. Google is the first to admit that it has its work cut out for it, but that doesn’t make the possibility of doing away with hard drives once and for all any less exciting for all of us. For more information please visit Nubifer.com.

Evaluating Zoho CRM

Although Salesforce may be the name most commonly associated with SaaS CRM, Zoho CRM is picking up speed as a cheap option for small business or large companies with only a few people using the service. While much attention has been paid to Google Apps, Zoho has been quietly creating a portfolio of on-line applications that is worth recognition. Now many are wondering if Zoho CRM will have as large of an impact on Salesforce that Salesforce did on SAP.

About Zoho

Part of Advent, Zoho has been producing SaaS Office-like applications since 2006. One of Zoho’s chief architects, Raju Vegesna, joined Advent upon graduating in 2000 and moving from India to the United States. Among Vegesna’s chief responsibilities is getting Zoho on the map.

Zoho initially offered spreadsheet and writing applications although the company, which targets smaller businesses with 10 to 100 employees, now has a complete range of productivity applications such as email, a database, project management, invoicing, HR, document management, planning and last but not least, CRM.

Zoho CRM

Aimed at businesses seeking to manage customer relations to transform leads into profitable relationships, Zoho CRM begins with lead generation. From there are lead conversion, accounts set up, contacts, potential mapping and campaign tabs. One of Zoho CRM’s best features is its layout. Full reporting facilities with formatting, graphical layouts and dashboards, forecasting and other management tools are neatly displayed and optimized.

Zoho CRM is fully email enabled and updates can be sent to any user set up along with full contact administration. Time lines ensure that leads are never forgotten or campaigns slipped. Like Zimbra and ProjectPlace, Zoho CRM offers brand alignment, which means users can change layout colors and add their own logo branding. Another key feature is Zoho’s comprehensive help section, which is constantly updated with comments and posts from other users online. Contact details from a standard comma separated value (.CSV) file from a user’s email system or spreadsheet application (such as Excel, Star or Open Office) can be imported by Zoho CRM. Users can also export CRM data in the same format as well.

The cost of Zoho CRM is surprisingly low. Zoho CRM offers up to three users (1,500) records for free, a Professional Version for $12 a month and as Enterprise version (20,000 records) for $25 a month. For more information about adopting Zoho’s CRM, contact a Nubifer representative today.

How Microsoft Windows 7 Changed the Game for Cloud Computing … and Signaled a Wave of Competition Between Microsoft, Google and Others.

On October 22 Microsoft released the successor to Windows Vista, Windows 7, and while excitement for the operating system mounted prior to its release, many are suggesting that its arrival is a sign of the end of computing on personal computers and the beginning of computing solely in the cloud. Existing cloud services like social networking, online games and web-based email are accessible through smart-phones, browsers or other client services, and because of the availability of these services Windows 7 is Microsoft’s fist operating system to include less features.

Although Windows is not in danger of extinction, cloud computing makes its operating systems less important. Other companies are following in Microsoft’s footsteps by launching products with fewer features than even Microsoft 7. In September, Microsoft opened a pair of data centers containing half a million servers between them and subsequently issued a new version of Windows for smart-phones. Perpetually ahead of the curve, Microsoft also launched a platform for developers, the highly publicized Azure, which allows them to write and run cloud services.

In addition to changing the game for Microsoft, the growth of cloud computing also heightens competition between the computer industry. Thus far, advancements in technology have pushed computing power in the opposite direction of central hubs (as seen in the shift from mainframes to minicomputers to PCs), while power is now being inverted back to the center in some ways, with less expensive and more powerful processors and faster networks. Basically, the cloud’s data centers are outsized public mainframes. While this is occurring, the PC is being pushed aside by more compact, wireless devices like netbooks and smart-phones.

The lessened importance of the PC enables companies like Apple, Google and IBM to fill in the gap caused my Microsoft’s former monopoly. There are currently hundreds of firms offering cloud services, and more by the day, but as The Economist points out, Microsoft, Google and Apple are in their own league. Each of the three companies has its own global network of data centers and plans on offering several services while also seeking to dominate the new field by developing new software or devices. The battle between Microsoft, Google and Apple sees each company trying to one-up each other. For example, Google’s free PC operating system, Chrome OS, shows Google’s attempt to catch up to Microsoft, while Microsoft’s recent operating system for smart-phones shows Microsoft’s attempt to catch up with the Apple iPhone as all as Google’s handset operating system, Android. Did you follow all of that?

Comparing Google, Microsoft and Apple

Professor Michael Cusamano of MIT’s Sloan School of Management recently told The Economist that while there are similarities between Google, Apple and Microsoft, they are each unique enough to carve out their own spot in the cloud because they approach the trend towards cloud computing in different ways.

Google is most well known for its search service as well as other web-based applications, and has recently began diversifying, launching Android for phones and Chrome OS. In this way, it can be said that Google has been a prototype for a cloud computing company since its inception in 1998. Google’s main source of revenue is advertising, with the company controlling over 75% of search-related ads in the States (and even more on a global scale). Additionally, Google is seeking to make money from selling services to companies, announcing in October that all 35,000 employees at the pest-control-to-parcel-delivery group Rentokil Initial will be using Google’s services.

While Microsoft is commonly associated with Microsoft Office and Windows, the company’s relations to cloud computing are not as distant as one might think. Microsoft’s new search engine, Bing, shows the company’s transition into the cloud, as does its web-based version of Office and the fact that Microsoft now offers many of its business software via online services. Microsoft smartly convinced Yahoo! to merge its search and a portion of its advertising business with Microsoft because consumers expect cloud services to be free, with everything paid for by ads.

As evidenced by the iPhone, the epitome of have-to-have-it, innovative bundles of hard- and software, Apple is largely known for its services outside the cloud. Online offering like the App Store, the iTunes store and MobileMe (a suite of online services), however, show that Apple’s hunger to get a piece of the cloud computing pie is growing by the day. Apple is also currently building what many have suggested is the world’s largest data center (worth a whopping $1 billion) in North Carolina.

While Apple, IBM and Microsoft previously battled for the PC in the late 1980s and early 1990s, cloud computing is an entirely different game. Why? Well, for starters, much of the cloud is based on open standards, making it easier for users to switch providers. Antitrust authorities will play into the rivalry between the companies, and so will other possible contenders, such as Amazon and Facebook, the world’s leading online retailer and social network, respectively (not to mention Zoho and a host of others). An interesting fact thrown to the debate on who will emerge victorious is the fact that all current major contenders in the cloud computing race are American, with Asian and European firms not yet showing up in cloud computing in any major way (although Nokia’s suite of online services, Ovi, is in beginning stages). Visit Nubifer.com for more information.

Worldwide SaaS Revenue to Increase 18 Percent in 2009 According to Gartner

According to the folks over at Gartner, Inc., one of the leading information technology research and advisory companies, worldwide SaaS (Software as a Service) revenue is predicted to reach $7.5 billion in 2009. If Gartner’s forecast is correct, this would show a 17.7 percent increase, as 2008 SaaS revenue totaled at $6.4 billion. Gartner also reports that the market will display significant and steady growth through 2013, at which point revenue is anticipated to extend past $14 billion for enterprise application markets.

Research director Sharon Mertz said of the projections, “The adoption of SaaS continues to grow and evolve within the enterprise application markets. The composition of the worldwide SaaS landscape is evolving as vendors continue to extend regionally, increase penetration within existing accounts and ‘greenfield’ opportunities, and offer more-vertical-specific solutions as part of their service portfolio or through partners.” Mertz continued to explain how the on-demand deployment model has flourished because of the broadening of on-demand vendors’ services through partner offerings, alliances and (recently) by offering and promoting user-application development through PaaS (Platform as a Service) capabilities. Added Mertz, “Although usage and adoption is still evolving, deployment of SaaS still varies between the enterprise application markets and within specific market segments because of buyer demand and applicability of the solution.”

Across market segments, the largest amount of SaaS revenue comes from CCC (content, communications and collaboration) and CRM (customer relationship management) markets. Gartner reports that the CCC market is generating $2.6 billion and the CRM market is generating $2.3 billion, in 2009. The CCC and CRM markets generated $2.14 billion and $1.9 billion in 2008, respectively. See Table 1 for figures.

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Growth in the CRM market continues to be driven by SaaS, a trend which began four year ago, as evidenced by the jump from less than $500 million and over 8 percent of the CRM market in 2005 to nearly $1.9 million in revenue and over 8 percent of the CRM market in 2008. Gartner anticipated this trend to continue, with SaaS representing nearly 24 percent of the CRM market’s total software revenue in 2009. Says Gartner’s Mertz in conclusion, highlighting the need in the marketplace filled by SaaS, “The market landscape for on-demand CRM continues to evolve as the availability and usage of SaaS solutions becomes more pervasive. The rapid adoption of SaaS and the marketplace success of salesforce.com have compelled vendors without an on-demand solution to either acquire smaller niche SaaS providers or develop the solution internationally in response to increasing buyer demand.” To receive more information contact Nubifer today.

Will Zoho Be the Surprise Winner in the Cloud Computing Race?

With all the talk of Microsoft, Google, Apple, IBM, Amazon and other major companies, it might be easy to forget about Zoho—but that would be a big mistake. The small, private company offers online email, spreadsheets and processors, much like one of the giants in cloud computing, Google, and is steadily showing it shouldn’t be discounted!

Based in Pleasanton, Calif., Zoho has never accepted bank loans or venture capital yet shows revenue of over $50 million a year. While Zoho has data center and networking management tools, its fastest-growing operation is its online productivity suite, according to Zoho’s chief executive, Sridhar Vembu. The company’s position suggests that there may be a spot for Zoho among online productivity application markets seemingly dominated by a few major companies. Vembu recently told the New York Times, “For now, the wholesale shift to the Web really creates opportunities for smaller companies like us.” And he may very well be right.

Zoho has 19 online productivity and collaboration applications (including invoicing, product management and customer relationship management), thus Zoho and Microsoft only overlap with five offerings. Zoho’s focus remains on the business market, with half of the company’s distribution through partners integrating Zoho’s products into their offerings. For example, Box.net, a service for storing, backing up and sharing documents, uses Zoho as an editing tool for uploaded documents. Most of Zoho’s partners are web-based services, showing that cheap, web-based software permits these business mash-ups to occur—while traditional software would make it nearly impossible. “Today, in the cloud model, this kind of integration is economical,” explains Vembu to the New York Times.

According to Vembu, most paying customers using Zoho’s hosted applications from its website (with prices ranging from free to just $25 per month, varying on features and services) are small businesses with anywhere from 40 to 200 employees. As evidence for the transition into the cloud, the chief executive of Zoho points to the Splashtop software created by DeviceVM, a start-up company. Dell, Asus and Hewlett-Packard reportedly plan on loading Splashtop, software able to be installed directly into a PCs hardware (thus completely doing without the operating system) on some of their PCs. “It is tailor-made for us. You go right into the browser,” says Vembu, clearly pleased at the evidence that smaller companies like Zoho are making leeway in the field of cloud computing.

Microsoft Azure Uncovered

Everyone is talking about Microsoft Azure, which could leave some people left in the dust wondering what exactly Azure is, how much it costs and what it means for cloud computing and Microsoft as a whole. If you are among those who have unanswered questions about Microsoft Azure, look no further: here is your guide to all things Azure.

The Basics

When cloud computing first emerged, everyone wondered if and how Microsoft would make the transition into the cloud—and Microsoft Azure is the answer. Windows Azure is a cloud operating system that is essentially Microsoft’s first big step into the cloud. Developers can build using .NET, Python, Java, Ruby on Rails and other languages on Azure. According to Windows Azure GM Doug Hauger, Microsoft plans on eventually offering an admin model, which will permit developers to have access to the virtual machine (as with traditional Infrastructure-as-a-Service offerings like Amazon’s EC2, they will have to manually allocate hardware resources). SQL Azure is Microsoft’s relational database in the cloud while .NET Services is Microsoft’s Platform-as-a-Service built on the Azure OS.

The Cost

There are three different pricing models for Azure. The first is consumption-based, in which a customer pays for what they use. The second is subscription-based, in which those committing to six months of use receive discounts. Available as of July 2010, the third is volume licensing for enterprise customers desiring to take existing Microsoft licenses into the cloud.

Azure compute costs 12 center per service hour, which is half a cent less than Amazon’s Windows-based cloud, while Azure’s storage service costs 15 cents per GB of data per moth, with an additional cent for every 10,000 transactions (movements of data within the stored material). .NET Services platform costs 15 cents for every 100,000 times the applications build on .NET Services accesses a chunk of code or tool. As for moving data, it costs 10 cents per GB of inbound data and 15 cents per GB of outbound data. For up to a 1 GB relational database, SQL Azure is $9.99, while it costs $99.99 for up to a 10 GB relational database.

The Impact on Microsoft and Cloud Computing

Although the introduction of Microsoft Windows Azure comes a bit late into the burgeoning field of cloud computing and as a Platform-as-a-Service party, Microsoft remains ahead of enterprises which the company is hoping to attract as customers. In other words, by eyeing enterprises that still remain skeptical of cloud computing, Microsoft may tap into customers not snatched up by other more established cloud computing parties. No enterprise data center runs solely on Microsoft software, which is likely why the company seems willing to test out other programming languages and welcome heterogeneous environments in Azure. Additionally, the Azure platform as has a service-level agreement that offers 99.9 percent uptime on the storage side with 99.95 percent uptime on the compute side.

As many have pointed out, Microsoft may be behind Amazon and others for the time being, but there is room for an open platform directed at enterprises, which is Azure’s niche. For more Azure related information visit Nubifer.com.