Wednesday Jun 11, 2008

More coverage on our JCAPS/SOA Announcement...

What is always fun to see, as a marketing person, is what the press does on all the announcements and briefings we do. Some reporters just look at the press release and repackage it for their readers, others package the news absolutely incorrectly, and the ones I really love are those that listen to the news, but can drill down a little deeper and show insight.  John Waters from Application Development Trends is a great example of the latter...


Monday Jun 09, 2008

A big day for SOA

We have been feverishly working on the next release of our JCAPS product and I am really happy to report that today is the day that we announce it to the world. Although we are just announcing it today, we have had many customers using it already and making sure it is ready for prime time. The press release has all the details but for me the these 3 features excited me the most:

1) Built from Open Source

JCAPS 6 is built from the OpenESB community. The importance of this is two fold -- for the JCAPS customer it ensures that the product is more open and mitigates the risk of vendor lockin, for the potential customer or general developer out there they can use the Enterprise Service Buss features of OpenESB, knowing that if they find the product indispensable (and I am sure they will!) they can migrate up to the full featured version of JCAPS. As a side benefit for Sun and our sales team it reduces the sales cycle.

2) Powerful update to the tested and popular JCAPS 5

For existing customers this is the "must have release" since we have been listening to your feedback and have added additional features like support for BPEL 2, event notification and JBI (reduced vendor lock-in). For prospects and customers waiting for the "right" SOA platform, this is it. The feedback from our early access customers has been fantastic, but don't take my word for it, give it a try by downloading OpenESB today and giving it a whirl!

3) Focussed on real customer pain points

SOA gets a bad name because it doesn't solve world hunger (wish it did, but it doesn't!) But what it does a fantastic job at solving is the  "single view of the customer problem" -- see my posting on Sibel for me information.
Basically the product allows for the real time consolidation of master data (like customer, patient, supplier, citizen, product, etc) providing businesses with the tools needed to solve one of the biggest challenges today i.e. customer retention and acquisition. This new product is in the Master Data Management market and is aptly called Sun's Master Data Management Suite.

Let me encourage you again to read the release, download and use the OpenESB and let me know what you think of the product.

Tuesday Apr 08, 2008

Stop Treating Your Customer as Sibel!

I have just had quite a fight with my financial institution who did not think it appropriate to contact me to tell me my stock sale had not been completed as I had requested. The customer service representative didn't know that I had other dealing with the bank and treated me, I suppose like they do with all new customers, with a high degree of "who cares!" and told me that it must be my mistake. I escalated to the management and when they realized that I had other dealing with them -- mortgage, investment, savings, etc. they were suddenly all apologetic and refunded me the difference between what the stock was sold incorrectly for and what it should have been sold for. Maybe in the initial rep had known all my relationships they would have done a better job at making me happy

Straight after this episode, I was standing in line at a security gate at my local airport where they allow frequent flyers from one particular airline the ability to bypass the security line. Again I was astonished that this airport didn't see my business across multiple airlines important to them, the fact that I travel almost weekly didn't seem to matter, but because I wasn't on some super-elite status of a particular airline I was relegated to the "standard line."

These although trivial examples brought home to me the business need for a single view of the customer. Harrods had exactly this problem until they implemented Java CAPS. Now they can view their customer as one.

Not seeing the customer as one entity sometimes have dire consequences. There has been much written about drug interactions and patients dying because the doctor and the pharmacist didn't know about other medications that the patient was on. I am glad there is a solution to this as well, and Cleveland Clinic is a great example of an organization who had implemented a technological solution to address these needs.

I urge you all to consider making your customer happier by ensuring you see one 1 customer -- not the 24 isolated interactions you currently have. If you need help, check out the white paper on what we can do to help.

Sunday Mar 16, 2008

Solving Real Business Needs

I have spent the last few weeks traveling the country speaking to customers, prospects, and industry analysts.  Discussing the trends they are seeing, what they are doing, and the problems they are facing.

What was amazing about this was a consistent theme I hear from all of them -- "How do I expand my reach while mitigating my risk?"

What is Reach and why do companies care?

Most companies are trying to reach out to more customers, partners, markets, and gain opportunities. They are looking at ways of expanding their relationships with their suppliers and their entire value chain.

Consider the following examples:

  • The Government of Norway has undertaken an amazing project to enable their 4.5 million citizens to seamlessly access over 200 services over the web.
  • Or consider the Cleveland Clinic where they provide their 2.6 million patients access to their 2,000 service providers and provide authenticated access to prescription data for the thousands of retailers that might dispense this medication.

These are not isolated examples, but rather a growing trend where businesses seek competitive advantage by extending their reach.

The other side of REACH.. .RISK!

Unfortunately expanding the reach can have a nasty side effect, expanded risk. These two trends or business forces, reach and risk are in opposition to one another.  Consider "Zero-Reach" systems such as those dramatized in the movie Mission Impossible, where Ethan Hunt has to break into a physically secure location to access a machine. Almost no reach and very low risk.  This is in contrast to the opposite end of the spectrum.  The Internet where there is almost infinite reach, but
almost infinite risk.  The business reality is that most customer facing applications live in this infinite reach/infinite risk arena.

One cannot stop risk, but the goal of any organization it to balance these forces of risk and reach to an acceptable level.  Every organization, or potentially every system in every organization has to
consider the balance and determine what makes business sense.

"Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly." -- Robert F. Kennedy

This difficult balancing act isn't easy, consider the billions of dollars lost by Jerome Kerviel from Societe Generale. Arguably they gave Jerome too much reach!

It seems that one cannot read the news without hearing about the effects of this reach/risk:

  • Banks failing to manage IT risk study
    A new survey by Ernst & Young has found that the majority of global banks are failing to align IT risk management practices within more general enterprise and operational risk frameworks.
  • Top Banks Named in New Identity Theft Study
    Report Examines Incidents at Major U.S. Financial Institutions.Shockwaves rumbled through the US banking industry this week with the release of a new report estimating the annual incidents of Identity Theft associated with the nation's top banks.

Just like investing money, there is no silver bullet or optimal balance around these forces, instead businesses need to determine their "Risk/Reach tolerance level". Most organizations are forced to have a minimal risk/reach ratio by government and SEC requirements like Sarbanes-Oxley. 

How does Sun help?

Sun's Software Infrastructure products and solutions are designed to help with this careful balancing act.

Consider General Electric. GE has a reach of over 300,000 employees and contractors that need access to a wide variety of telecommunication assets. Naturally this pool of people are in a constant state of flux and this creates business and financial risk. GE needed a way to ensure automated provisioning and perhaps more importantly automated de-provisioning of users access as users joined and left the company. Sun's Identity Manager was deployed  to manage the risk/reach ratio by creating a system that automated the provisioning and de-provisioning of users. This helped GE reduce risk posed by terminated and contingent workers accessing email and application accounts.

We welcome the opportunity to help you solve your specific risk/reach tolerance issues and encourage you to look at our recently announced acquisition of Vaau to see how we are extending our portfolio to help you solve these issues.

Sunday Mar 09, 2008

Job Change

I cannot believe that I have not blogged at all this year, and for those still subscribed to the blog I have committed the classic blog error of non-posting. But just like falling off a horse the best course of action is get back on the horse.

My job has changed quite a lot since my last post, I have taken over the marketing around Sun's infrastructure (aka Middleware) products. I am sure I will still muse over OpenOffice and the incredible surge of adoption of this product, but my focus will naturally shift into middleware and where the industry is going.

I am hoping you will enjoy this ride into Software Infrastructure as much as I enjoy this new responsibility

Musings from Mark Herring at Sun...


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