More on AjaxWrite

So I’ve been reading a lot of the buzz about AjaxWrite and I still don’t get it. A couple of posts have pointed out that you can create PDF documents using the service… um, you can install a free PDF print driver and create all the PDF documents you desire, and if you are too damn lazy to install a piece of software, well here’s a service that you can email documents (multiple formats) to and they will email you the PDF version back.

Quite honestly I think much of this buzz has everything to do with the fact that “AJAX” is in the title of the service. It’s certainly no “Microsoft killer”.

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When I read the title of this post I thought maybe I might want to read it in outside of my office, then into the first paragraph I realized that it was a play on Tom Perkin's new book and I realized that maybe Mr. Perkins was in fact gunning for his ex-wife on the literary charts. Only after I read the entire post did I realize that neither were true, what Sramana was writing about was the fundamental shift in venture capital that we are well underway with now.

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Lot's of blog postings about AjaxWrite today. I tried the service:

1) It ain't a word processor, it's a text editor. Which is all well and good if you want to do simple editing, but comparing it to Word and Writely does a disservice to all of the products. On one hand it sets up ajaxwrite to be a big disappointment, while on the other hand it diminishes the significant feature sets that the other products feature.

Critics of MS Word like to say "yeah but I never use all of the features in Word" and that's a fair point, but the reason it's not called "Jeff's Word Processor" is that there are people who do use the features that I don't. I never used table of contents, but my assistant did and without it she would have faced a big challenge. Over time even Microsoft will evolve to a services based application architecture where I get to pick and choose what features I need, but nobody really has that today to the level of sophistication that these applications represent.


2) Secondly, ajaxwrite didn't work very well for me. The server was largely unavailable and loading the app caused my browser to reset several times. Can you imagine using this service for critical documents and facing that kind of reliability challenge? No.

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What makes open source databases so scalable?

Mark and I were having a conversation this morning about open source databases and he asked a really good question when I pointed out that’s recent outages were due to problems with their Oracle database implementation, while mega sites like Ebay, Google, and Amazon seem to scale just fine with their database infrastructures, which are open source products. Mark asked “what is it about open source databases that makes them so much more scalable than Oracle?” and quite honestly I didn’t have an answer at the time.

Part of the answer no doubt lies in the fact that Oracle 10g is much more than just a database. What Oracle has been promoting is the notion that everything from the database table up to the applications that support it belong in the database, as opposed to a componentized stack where failure of any single piece can be isolated and routed around.

The other thing I think about is that with distributed web technology evolving at the pace that it is the requirement for an all-ecompassing data platform is far less critical. In other words, given the proliferation of semantic technologies that enable far more impressive integrated search, the need for a centralized database certainly diminishes. Also, given that we’ve dumbed down the integration of data across systems to text (XML), a major obstacle to distributed systems has essentially evaporated. Keep in mind that it’s still not end-user easy, but the fact is that it’s a hell of a lot more reliable and cost effective than in years past.

I spend a lot of time considering how incumbents are never really disruptive in a market but rather the victims of disruption that occurs independent of any action or intention they may have taken. Perhaps this is why Ellison spends so much time talking about their new search product, it’s not that he has “Google-envy” but rather he understands that search makes the core principles upon which Oracle was built a lot less attractive. SAP faces our own challenges with regard to how SaaS as represented in our ESA platform ends up potentially unleashing forces that fundamentally change how we compete in our market, but that’s for another post.

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