September 3, 2009

OpenOffice vs. Microsoft Word for WordPress blogging — a 65:1 ratio in cruft

I prepare most of my blog posts in OpenOffice. Most of the rest I write directly online in WordPress. I almost never use Microsoft Word.

The reason, simply put, is cruft.

When I copy a post from OpenOffice to WordPress, I invariably get a line at the top that looks like

<!–         @page { size: 8.5in 11in; margin: 0.79in }         P { margin-bottom: 0.08in }     –>

I delete that, which according to OpenOffice stats amounts to exactly 100 characters; I fiddle with the bullet points a bit; I add a title, categories, and a MORE separator; and I’m basically good to go.

By way of contrast, in a recent post I copied a sentence from a press release I’d recieved across Google Mail in .DOC format, forgetting to stage it into OpenOffice first.  The cruft I needed to delete consisted of 6489 characters, namely: Read more

June 2, 2008

Updating my standards and disclosures

In early 2006, I wrote a pair of posts in which I discussed my general standards for analytic credibility, and disclosed some of my own relationships and biases. I have nothing to add to the generalities, but maybe it’s time to update some specifics.

March 4, 2008

Microsoft also seems to be selling SaaS directly

For a while, I’ve been arguing that SaaS is naturally a direct-sales business, even when sold to small organizations. If people are willing to have their business processes handled over a telecommunication network, they’re probably willing to buy services that way too. Indeed, the very first computer services firm ever was probably Automatic Data Processing. They sort of did SaaS, and they most definitely did direct sales.

What inspires me to bring this up now is the press around Microsoft Sharepoint. Apparently, there’s long been a SaaS version of Sharepoint for big firms, and now Microsoft is rolling it out for everybody. Now, I haven’t read the press releases, which weren’t sent to me by anybody at Waggener-Edstrom and are not easy to find on Microsoft’s web site. But the reporting doesn’t seem to mention partners, except in the negative. I.e., this seems like yet another significant direct-sales SaaS business.

If you follow this logic through, it suggests that a large part of the SaaS market will wind going to large companies with global reach — whether or not the rumors are true that Salesforce.com is currently being shopped around.

January 4, 2008

Early thoughts on outsourcing to Google Mail

Google doesn’t just offer free email of the form address@gmail.com. You can also outsource your own domain to them (free if you accept incoming ads, $50/year/mailbox if you don’t). I’ve chosen to do this, because:

  1. I need a mail host that can stand up under the kind of mailbomb/DDOS attacks that shut me down twice in the past year.
  2. Similarly, I want to diversify my email addresses among two providers, rather than leaving them all with my general web hosting company.
  3. David Ferris first wrote up Google Mail outsourcing, with a favorable view, last July. And some of his criticisms (e.g., lack of IMAP support) have already been rectified.
  4. What’s more — as I remarked last night, David and his associate Richi Jennings have been voting with their feet, and moving their own email to Google. That’s an impressive endorsement. Ferris Research is a serious rival to Gartner as an analyst firm covering email, and Richi — who evidently LOVES Gmail — has also carved out a non-trivial identity as an expert in his own right.
  5. Free sounds good, compared with the alternatives. Read more
December 2, 2007

Oracle is mixing its paradigms

In the past, I’ve drawn a clear distinction between an IBM/Oracle data-centric view of applications and SAP’s long-standing process-centric view. And I pooh-poohed the appearance that IBM was fuzzing things up a bit.

But as it self-identifies ever more as an application vendor, Oracle has also claimed to be more process-centric. And given the size of Oracle’s applications commitment, in this case I think the change, while not absolute, is at least in part pretty real.

November 20, 2007

I repeat — SaaS is not necessarily an indirect-channels business

From Salesforce.com’s latest 10-K:

We market our service to businesses on a subscription basis, primarily through our direct sales efforts and also indirectly through partners.

Looking back, I should have quoted that in support when I wrote:

By the way, I think the assumption SAP needs to sell ByDemand via indirect channels is an erroneous one. (Dennis Howlett seems to be at least partway to recognizing this. He also reports that SAP realizes that this is truly a sales issue.) Hence my stress on SAP’s internal sales management issues.

For 40+ years, application-oriented services have been sold in large part by direct sales forces. That goes back to the other payroll processors, and to time-sharing in general. Why would it change now?

October 8, 2007

Some quick thoughts on SAP acquiring Business Objects

1. SAP needed outside talent again. In March I wrote that Shai Agassi’s departure wasn’t as a big a deal as it seemed, because guys like Dennis Moore were still there. Well, by now Dennis Moore is NOT still there, and rumor had more of the good personnel acquisitions leaving as well. And unfortunately, my personal experience of some of those remaining is that they’re ethically unfit for their roles (and that’s putting it kindly).

2. The NetWeaver strategy has been failing. Does anybody care about NetWeaver any more? The whole thing includes some great ideas, but implementation has been lacking.

3. The Business Objects guys are proven successes at integrating disparate BI product suites. The Crystal Reports acquisition proved that.

Before writing more, I should check the extremely one-sided consulting contract I had with SAP, specifically for the expiration date of the NDA. How one-sided? Well, I naively agreed to a clause that I couldn’t sue them under the contract, expecting their concern about their reputation to keep them in line. Since then, they’ve cheated me out of considerable amounts of money that they owed. Arggh. Live and learn.

September 25, 2007

SAP ByDemand could work a lot better than critics think

As I explained in another post, it’s credible that SAP is very serious about its new ByDemand SaaS (Software as a Service) offering. While I haven’t been briefed on the product (er, service), I’m guessing ByDemand is pretty good, or soon will be. I have three major reasons for this opinion.

  1. SAP sure has a lot of resources to bring to bear – and as previously noted, I think the company is dead serious about this initiative.

  2. On the back end, the business-service granularity SAP has been implementing is well-suited to deal with the unique challenges of SaaS, both the very real (e.g., short upgrade cycles) and the largely imaginary (e.g., multi-tenancy).

  3. SAP recently hired Dan Rosenberg away from Oracle to head its UI efforts, and Release 1 of a Dan Rosenberg user interface is likely to be very good. I know Dennis Howlett has a contrary view, and he’s actually seen the product. Even so, I’m optimistic about SAP’s claims to have designed the UI with an open mind, for maximum ease and simplicity, and validated by many rounds of testing.

Read more

September 25, 2007

The unprofitability of the SaaS business is an illusion caused by growth

There’s a fallacy going around to the general effect:

Salesforce.com is the biggest SaaS company. Salesforce.com is making next to no profit. Therefore, SaaS is currently not a profitable business.

But that’s nonsense. Here’s why. Read more

September 20, 2007

Software Auf Probe

We all know insulting wordplay such as “Windoze,” deserved or otherwise. (Personally, I prefer the more subtle “Intel giveth and Microsoft taketh away.”) I just learned one in German, however, that I’m guessing is less familiar to English-speaking readers. “Software auf Probe” translates, roughly, as “Software in test.” Any resemblances to long SAP adoption cycles are purely intentional. :)

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