What the Big Vendors Did Last Month, and What It Means to You

By Geoffrey James

Computer Associates announced integration between CA SiteMinder and CA Single Sign-On products. The integration provides single sign-on across the extended enterprise, including Web, client/server, mainframe and federated environments. Single sign-on grants users access to applications or systems without requiring users to juggle multiple usernames and passwords or reenter their credential information each time they access an application.
Our Take: About time. Why isn’t this available everywhere?

IBM announced new open source development software enhancements that will allow Web developers to use popular browser tools to build, test and run new voice applications for phones, handheld devices, cars and the Web. The Voice Tools Project is designed to remove the cost barrier of entry so that developers can add speech to a wide variety of applications.
Our Take: The problem with voice recognition applications isn’t the cost of the tools, but the failure of the technology to handle accents and speech variants, along with the misapplication of the technology to filter customer service requests – resulting in angry, frustrated customers. . Until somebody creates true, generalized artificial intelligence, speech recognition will remain a way to (sometimes) avoid pushing the keys on your phone – and not much more.

Microsoft announced growing industry support for Microsoft® Office Live Communications Server 2005 as a hub for unified communications solutions. Microsoft is collaborating with telephone companies to enable further integration between business desktop phones and PCs, theoretically allowing customers to more effectively communicate in real time. The solutions are designed to enable business customers to launch and answer private branch exchange (PBX) and Internet protocol-PBX (IP-PBX) phone calls, view phone presence status from within Office Communicator, and allow customers to switch between instant messaging and voice sessions.
Our Take: This is a natural application for Microsoft, but it may be difficult to support the protocols required for all the different telephone systems, which are fully incompatible at the programmable level.

Oracle announced an entry-level program for new Oracle VARs and ISVs, who wish to sell Oracle Database and Application Server Standard Edition One and Standard Edition. Partners enrolled in OPN QuickStart get full access to the competency center and technology training roadmaps, sales and marketing kits, developer toolkits, access to the Oracle University online library and discounts on Oracle University class registration fees.
Our Take: Nuts and bolts stuff. This is pretty much what most software companies provide to their developer community. It does represent an ongoing commitment on Oracle’s part to support smaller VARs and ISVs, though.

SAP announced SAP CRM on-demand delivered directly via the Internet, through a subscription-based licensing model. SAP is calling this “the first hybrid CRM solution that transcends on-demand and on-premise, while integrating with core enterprise solutions in both deployment models.” The idea is that companies will be able to evolve their CRM solution to align with their business needs and customer strategies in ways that go beyond the limitations of on-demand “pure plays” like Salesforce.com.
Our Take: There’s no question that SAP has the technical chops to make this product a big winner. The thousands of companies that are already heavily invested in SAP should (and will) be looking very closely at this offering because, long-term, it could mean a change in direction for this top software vendor.