Dell gives buyers the no-crap option

I bought my mom a HP desktop computer a while back and when I plugged it in for her I could not believe how many marketing icons were preloaded. I literally spent an hour cleaning it up figuring that the more stuff that was there the more confusion it would create. A few months later we had to send it back to HP because of a hard drive failure and went it (finally) came back… yep, all the preloaded crap was back with it.

When I bought my MacBook last month it had one icon on the desktop. And manufacturers still think that people like Macs because they look cool…

In reading the “you spoke, we listened” comments below (via digg) about Dell I almost wonder if it was less about people speaking and more about blogs amplifying the voice, in particular this little gem of a post where a guy actually wrote a “Dell De-Crapifier” utility to remove all the junk that Dell (and I would assume this could work on other brands) preloads on their systems.

It seems that Dell has taken our criticism (and our readers as well) to heart and has made the much sought after move to offer select XPS systems with “limited” pre-installed software.

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Duffield’s Workday

In reading this account of what they are doing I am somewhat disappointed because the “new” enterprise software company is sounding a lot like the “old” enterprise software company.

“Blah blah blah, buzzword, blah some more blah, “flexible”. Blah blah blah no custom code blah blah. Blah blah architecture blah blah buzzword more buzzwords and a few acronyms.”
(with compliments to

Workday should have a blog as well, this pull quote bullshit on their website is a tired way of engaging people that are interested in what you are building. Duffield should be writing about what he is building and how he is doing it and engaging a broader community of interested people, broader than just journalists.

Plans for Workday will once again place Duffield in competition with Oracle and SAP, the ERP market leader. The company aims to outflank competitors by selling a more flexible and comprehensive set of human resources tools–what Workday and the HR industry refers to as “human capital management” applications–than competitors offer, sources said. “Our focus is to tackle the traditional ERP markets, in a nontraditional way,” according to a posting on Workday’s Web site.

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Giving up categories

I just had a thought… I’m tagging my posts consistently and trying to be pretty granular about it, what if I ditched the “categories” and just used tags? Seems a little redundant to have both and I really don’t use the categories hierarchy for viewing/searching. Would anyone miss categories if I stopped using them and pulled it from the sidebar?

UPDATE: okay, so far I have 3 comments on this saying keep the categories, including one from Jeff Osborne and he built the SAP internal blogs where he was an advocate of categories as well. I’ll keep ’em.

Scripting in a box for NetWeaver

So we finally got off our collective asses and did something to put a wrapper around scripting language support in NetWeaver, even though it was through the actions of a proactive individual as opposed to an organized initiative by “the company”. All things considered, I’d actually prefer an environment where someone with a good idea can make it happen on his own, good stuff.

What is really cool about this blog post, in addition to the download, is that Shai Agassi and one of his direct reports, Dennis Moore, are actively engaged in the comments, one of which I excerpted below:

More important — the scripting language community around SAP seems to be growing and vibrant. SAP wants to support the scripting community(ies), and we are getting started in figuring out how we can make our greatest contribution — by listening to you. If you’d like to speak more directly, check out my business card and send me an e-mail — or even better, meet up at SAPPHIRE Orlando, take home some “goodies,” and let’s see what we can decide together.

Some people seem interested in this remaining a purely community-driven (with some contribution and participation by SAP) effort, while others want this to be “official” SAP software (with all that implies regarding support, licensing, etc.). I think this is a healthy debate, and I’d like to see it unfold a little more.

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EarlyStageVC: Web 2.0 – Now What?

Peter Rip pretty much sums up the totality of enterprise software and the potential for web 2.0 in one paragraph, amazing. If you want to see how this actually works, take a look at Resilient (btw, I fucking HATE Flash websites that I can’t copy-and-paste from or even see the URL).

Collaboration in a business context has a goal other than the act of collaborating itself. We used to call these goals business processes. Collaboration is one important component of a business process, but it is not the whole process. Another interesting dimension of a business process is a transaction. A transaction is the organization’s transformation of a set of initial inputs (customer inquiry, need to hire, etc.) into an accomplished goal. Collaboration is either loosely or tightly bound to the process. But so are data and systems. And that’s the other half of Web 2.0 to me – the lightweight integration methods of Web 2.0. Together these two parts of Web 2.0 can re-engineer enterprise IT. Interesting. And the Enterprise itself. Much more interesting.

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Manugistics Goes Out with a Whimper, Jeremy Coote Strikes Again

When I heard the rumor that JDA was acquiring Manugistics I didn’t even bother to write about it because I figured it was such a non-event (even in the event Oracle acquired them it would have been a non-event).

One of my very good friends was a bag carrying guy there last year when Jeremy Coote was still the president of the company. Some of you will recall that Jeremy was the CEO of SAP America after Paul Wahl left (and 6 months later ended up at Siebel where the current CEO of SAP America, Bill McDermott, reported to him… it’s a small industry). Anyway, Coote ran SAP America up to the edge of the cliff and then resigned; the CFO at the time, Kevin McKay was appointed CEO and he promptly drove it off the cliff and didn’t even leave any skid marks. Thank God for McDermott and for the wisdom of our Executive Board for hiring him, whatever we are paying him he is worth it.

There is an entire generation of enterprise software executives who represent the business as it was and not where it is going. For all of his personal charisma and selling ability, Coote is not the guy I would recruit to run a company that is representative of the complexities of today’s business with technology change underfoot, new business models, radically different economics, services, and multi-faceted direct selling channels. He’s also not a guy that I would put in a startup and that points to the complexity of hiring executives today when so much weight is put on their resume as a qualifier.

One of the best startups CEO’s I witnessed was Tom Reilly at Trigo (now IBM). When I looked at the Trigo deal back in 2002 (?) it was very much an enterprise software company slugging it out in the nuclear winter that was the time. Robin Vasan at Mayfield called me up and asked if we might be interested, which I was and I met with Tom, Byron, and Venky a couple of times and ended up not investing primarily because I was getting a lot of a triple-A from our internal guys who said they were too competitive (got that a lot, in this case I thought there was actually a higher probability that it would play out that way). Some of the other investors that I talked to who were looking at the deal said “yeah Tom is a solid guy but he’s never been a CEO before and right now we think you need someone experienced to get through this.” I didn’t subscribe to that viewpoint and I was pleased to see Robin stick with Tom to what ultimately was a very successful outcome for the company. I also know that Tom is on a lot of shortlists for CEO gigs whenever he wants to pull that trigger.

We should be hiring executives less on their resumes and more on their capabilities as testified to by their peers. It’s not that you need someone who is deep in every operational category, but someone who is cognizant of the challenges facing software companies today and armed with thoughtful strategies for succeeding in these market realities. The CEO has 4 jobs: plan, control, develop people, and develop culture. It is the direct reports that actually bring success to the company and the best people in this business simply won’t work for a CEO that they don’t have confidence in, so what ends up happening is the same roster of back benchers gets recycled because the B-team CEO doesn’t have the insight or confidence to hire fresh faces into executive roles, they are always looking at the resume.

Spend Matters: Manugistics Goes Out with a Whimper:

According to Lora Cecere’s summary from the AMR peanut gallery, “JDA Software is acquiring Manugistics for $211M in cash, approximately 1.2 times Manugistics’ FY06 revenue.

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Google Code – Summer of Code – Summer of Code

This is a very cool program, SAP should be involved in this…

Google Code – Summer of Code – Summer of Code:

Summer of Code 2006 is a program that offers student developers stipends to create new open source programs or to help currently established projects. Google will be working with a variety of open source, free software, and technology-related groups to identify and fund several hundred projects over a three-month period. The inaugural instance of the program, which took place last summer, brought together 400 students and 40 mentoring organizations from 49 countries. We’d like to include even more organizations and participants this year.

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SOA Versus Web 2.0?

Talk about timing, I wrote yesterday that SOA is dead and today on Memorandum I see a post from John Hagel from a few days ago examining the web 2.0 vs. SOA debate that is quietly raging on. As a bonus, John mentions my web 2.0 wiki in the post. This is my new “thing” because I think it’s one of the single most important debates to be having in enterprise software, SOA isn’t an application for end users and web 2.0 is a hell of a lot more than mashups.

As I indicated in my previous posting, a cultural chasm separates these two technology communities, despite the fact that they both rely heavily on the same foundational standard – XML. The evangelists for SOA tend to dismiss Web 2.0 technologies as light-weight “toys” not suitable for the “real” work of enterprises. The champions of Web 2.0 technologies, on the other hand, make fun of the “bloated” standards and architectural drawings generated by enterprise architects, skeptically asking whether SOAs will ever do real work.

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SketchUp is free, free at last

Back in March it was announced that Google had acquired my favorite design program, Sketchup. I humbly suggested that they should offer it for free, guess someone was listening because that’s just what they did (like it was hard to predict). What’s different about this for Google is that Sketchup is a full blown desktop application that you download, it will be interesting to see what approach Google takes for end user support.

To clarify the license, only personal usage is free, if you are using Sketchup commercially then you are still on the hook for the $500 license fee.

SketchUp – Download:

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SOA is Dead, Long Live Web 2.0

For a long time I have been wondering what the business benefits of SOA are, and the truth is that I can find very few. SOA primarily benefits software publishers, in my opinion, by enabling a more rational development methodology and by tackling sticky integration issues once and for all. There are some ancillary benefits to end users, like incremental product upgrades in the form of services upgrades, but in the end the bulk of the benefits go to the people who make and implement software not use it.

The Web 2.0 revolution, and it really is a revolution, is where the enterprise software industry should be focusing our attention. It is here that customers see the benefits modern architectures enabled by SOA, but SOA alone doesn’t go far enough to be called anything more than an enabler of Web 2.0, the other critical components being REST and scripting, which end up feeding from one another.

The more technical of you would argue that REST and scripting benefit publishers as well, but what I would argue is that scripting is a direct enabler of end user services in the form of applets and with REST you have the ability to componentize application services without regard for state and this enables a new class of applications that are uniquely assembled at end points to provide users with applications that not only fit their requirements a lot better but are vastly less complex. A major ideological stumbling block for enterprise software companies is that everything we have done for 30 years has depended upon state as imposed by formal language theory, in other words, no message or event is every completely self contained, whereas in the REST world that the web lives in every message is self contained and complete. The computer scientists among you will debate the completeness or validity of what I just wrote, but I’d ask you not to just for the purposes of focusing on the theme not the details.

This debate is much longer than just one post, but it’s a debate we should be having because this SOA thing has been ongoing for the better part of 5 years and we still don’t have substantive end user benefits to show for it. In the interests of giving credit where credit is due, the move to SOA does enable an entirely new architecture (jeez, I am beginning to hate that word) while not being completely disruptive with regard to upgrade paths.

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