Showing posts with label iPhone. Show all posts
Showing posts with label iPhone. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Rise of WebKit Advances Mobile Web's Role, Opens Huge Opportunity for Enterprise Developers on Devices

Transcript of a BriefingsDirect podcast on new technologies and approaches that leverage the mobile Web for designing Web applications for hand-held and other mobile devices.

Listen to the podcast. Download the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and Learn more. Sponsor: Genuitec.

Dana Gardner: Hi, this is Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and you're listening to BriefingsDirect. Today, we present a sponsored podcast discussion on bringing enterprise applications effectively out to mobile devices.

This complex subject has required some harsh trade-offs from developers in the past -- trade-offs between rich, native applications targeted at specific devices, versus standardized mobile application approaches that have simply failed to impress users.

Such trade-offs have also limited the ability of Web developers to take their full PC browser applications out to the mobile tier without losing powerful features, or finding that the transition to smaller form factors just doesn't hold up. Yet, a new day might be dawning on the ability for enterprise developers to make the mobile leap.

Thanks to the sizable impact that the Apple iPhone and its WebKit browser have had in the market, the mobile device competition is responding. It's sniffing out new business opportunities around application stores, selling application by application, and the mobile commerce implications of that as well.

We're also seeing advertising creep into the mobile tier. All of these trends and effects are mounting now for development to increase and for more applications to find their way out to these devices. Also, such developments as HTML 5, Android, and advances in scripting and open source tools have made the mobile Web suddenly more attractive and attainable for mainstream development and developers.

So, we're going to look at how the development field for mobile Web applications is shaping up and how targeting the modern mobile Web browser may be removing some of the harshness from the trade-offs of the past over form, function and unsatisfactory standards.

To help us unpack the mobile Web, we're joined by our panel. First, I'd like to introduce Stephen O'Grady, founder and analyst at RedMonk. Welcome, Stephen.

Stephen O'Grady: Hey, Dana.

Gardner: We're also joined by Wayne Parrott, vice president for product development at Genuitec. Hi, Wayne.

Wayne Parrott: Hi, there. Great to be here.

Gardner: And also, David Beers, a senior wireless developer at MapQuest. Welcome, David.

David Beers: Thanks. Good to be on, Dana.

Gardner: Let's start first with Stephen at Redmonk. You've been following these issues for quite some time. Why have the mobile Web and mobile applications become so important now?

O'Grady: It's really for a number of different reasons. We have better wireless options than we've had in the past. Wireless pricing is more conducive to adoption. In addition, we've seen, just within the past 12-18 months, a real revolution in terms of the adoption of applications, largely due to the success of the iPhone platform, which just recently sold its billionth application.

The success there is again due to the environmental and contextual factors, but also the success in the design of the device itself, in which we finally have a real Web browser. In your introduction, you mentioned WebKit, which is the foundation for the browser. Obviously that's on the iPhone platform.

For the first time, users have a real Web experience, as opposed to a stripped-down, bare-bones site in terms of what they can experience via the mobile Web. We need to pair the environmental and contextual factors with the advances that we've seen in the devices themselves. They've all come together to give us a rich and deep experience that will allow us to do things that we haven't been able to do before with the devices.

Gardner: We're also seeing some economic factors, given the tough economy. When you see the success that a little game application can have and how engaging it can be, I think the enterprise bean counters

When you're an enterprise vendor or a consumer vendor looking to target a volume audience, the fact is that, there are a lot more mobile devices than there are desktops and laptops.

say, "Wow, why can't we bring some of our applications down to that same tier, but at a much lower price point and perhaps out to a much wider user base -- either employees or partners, or even end-customers?"

O'Grady: The user base is one of the important factors. Certainly, the pricing in the applications is very conducive to adoption. In other words, if it's a couple of dollars an application, as Apple has proven with its iTunes store and BlackBerry has attempted to duplicate, we're seeing real low barrier to entry price points. This will spur adoption of the individual applications themselves.

When you're an enterprise vendor or a consumer vendor looking to target a volume audience, the fact is that, there are a lot more mobile devices than there are desktops and laptops. There are mobile devices all over the planet.

You were mentioning economics. The economics are an excellent indication of one trend that we're seeing recently, with handhelds and the so-called netbook category of subnotebooks or ultra-light machines. We're seeing these devices repurposed, utilized, and leveraged in areas that we haven't seen them before.

For example, a lot of folks who might have traveled in the past and had applications like Siebel built into their laptops are now very often using those in a handheld or, in some cases, a netbook. So, economics, in terms of the application price and the volume audience that can be targeted is a big factor.

Gardner: I suppose that Metcalfe's Law kicks in to some degree. The more people on the network, the more people that can be involved in a business process, particularly in real time, the more powerful the process, and the more powerful the network.

O'Grady: You've got it.

Gardner: Let's move on to this issue about fragmentation. As Stephen pointed out, we still have many, many devices. This is by no means 1982 with MS-DOS as the single platform to be concerned with. We still need to work out a great deal of fragmentation on the mobile tier.

Let's go to David. You're a developer in the mobile tier. How does an organization like MapQuest handle this whole issue of so many choices on that endpoint?

Beers: It's both a problem and an opportunity. From a developer's standpoint, and I am a developer, it's obviously difficult, because the amount of energy that you put in is divided across all of these different platforms. You have to make difficult decisions about developing the features you want with the resources you've got and perhaps limiting the targets that you're able to reach, as far as devices are concerned. Or, you may be faced with, partly because of resource constraints and partly because of the need to try to fit across the lowest common denominator, releasing apps that aren't as powerful or as functional as you'd like them to be in order to get that reach. That's a difficult thing.

On the positive side, fragmentation is a pejorative term that we use for differentiation. It's painful for developers, but we can't pretend that it's all a bad thing, because it's really driven by rapid innovation. A lot of the fragmentation that we see out there is because we've got these capabilities now on handsets.

So many of them have GPS, for example, which is a huge opportunity for MapQuest. We would definitely want to be able to leverage those capabilities. As Stephen was saying, part of this uptake in application usage is because the technology is getting better. So, you've got to go to where that improvement is.

Gardner: So, we have choices and trade-offs, but we also seem to have some coalescing around a better path. Why don't we go to Wayne? Tell us how you see the improvement, now that we've identified the problematic past. How do you see things improving?

Parrott: Looking back, things have been a pretty big mess on mobile for the whole. You kicked off by talking about some of the improvements in the smarter phones and the capabilities they bring in, both higher-end horsepower on the smartphones and a much better browsing experience or engine now showing up on the iPhone-class machines. The programming model that is now available enables a whole new class of Web-type applications, which, in the past, has been reserved for native applications.

Going back to talking about native, again, the fragmentation issue pops up. As you start to move forward with the WebKit-type browsers now more prevalent on these smarter phones, it's starting to represent a more common platform that we have a choice to target our application functionality toward.

Gardner: So, perhaps this goal of being able to "write once, run once" doesn't really work, given the variety of devices. "Write once, run anywhere" doesn't work, because of the differences in the native approaches. So, we're stuck with "write many times, and run many places."

It's got to be better than that, though! How do we manage and make that a bit more amenable from a technology and a business perspective? Again, I'll take that to Wayne.

Parrott: Obviously, recognizing the advances in the platform itself and being able to take advantage of the mobile Web capability of the newer iPhone class machines is something that has caught a lot of enterprises' attention. Before, they were scared off by the prospect of the cost of going native and the fragmentation issues around that.

Going back to focusing toward mobile Web and the WebKit browsers gives them the opportunity to start to look at their existing resources and their know-how, in terms of what they've been doing in the past as far as Web. They can ask, "What's the gap that I have to close, in order to repurpose and retarget my resources, my content, services toward reaching people where they are now?" More and more people are living mobile. So, what is it you have to do?

They're quickly starting to realize that the new smartphones are giving them a great new capability, and it's not that big a gap that they have to cross over in order to be able to reach users in a much more cost-effective level by focusing on the capabilities that the mobile Web gives them.

Gardner: Stephen, where do you fall on this? Do you see that the developers are going to be making the choices that winnow down these variables, or are the market, the technologies, and some elephants in the room, like Apple, going to make these standards for them?

Target the largest market

O'Grady: In large part, developers will be making the choice, and they'll be making the choice largely based on volume. In other words, whether you're a third-party application developer or an individual developer just putting out an application on your own, you want to target the largest market.

Now, there are exceptions to that. For example, even if the BlackBerry store is much smaller, in terms of the number of users, than the Apple Store, it will have a guaranteed, built-in audience simply because of BlackBerry's strength within the enterprise. Enterprise application developers might target that at the expenses of the Apple's iTunes store, but, ultimately, much of it will be determined by volume.

It's kind of a chicken and egg situation, because application volume is a function of the platform success and vice versa, but ultimately, the platforms that are successful will be determined by volume.

The difficult part here is that whether we're talking native or Web apps for the phone, it's still a fragmented market. The native clients, whether it's an Apple, a BlackBerry, or a Nokia device, are not going to be the same application. It's certainly not "write once, run anywhere," even for the Web. We have different versions of WebKit being employed for the different platforms. If the Mozilla folks are successful in making Fennec a real presence alongside of WebKit in one or more of these platforms, then we'll have fragmentation even at the Web space level.

So, fragmentation is going to be the status quo. That will carry into the future, but success will be determined largely by platform volume.

Gardner: Okay. So, volume is one major force in the market, but we are seeing some innovation technically,

It's kind of a chicken and egg situation, because application volume is a function of the platform success and vice versa, but ultimately, the platforms that are successful will be determined by volume.

and often the best approach for productivity that feeds that volume beast ends up winning. Let's go to David. We've seen developments around HTML advances, scripting language, and open source. From your perspective as a developer, what is getting you out of bed early Monday morning to get into work, when it comes to some of these new technologies?

Beers: I can tell this from the context of how things have evolved at MapQuest. We're a company that grew up on the Web, one of the first Web applications to hit the Internet back in 1996. It wasn't too surprising that we started on the mobile web with WAP technology, the early version of the mobile web. We've been pretty successful with that project within certain limits, but it's definitely been a least common denominator type platform, and it's been difficult to move that.

Gardner: WAP is Wireless Application Protocol (WAP), right?

Beers: Thank you, yes, and it's been a little bit of a silo for us. In other words, you can't really take a WAP website and evolve that very easily into an iPhone-class device, as Wayne is talking about.

Gardner: How long have you been grappling with this? As you say, you were early to the Web. How early have you been to mobile? It seems that when someone is traveling, they're not stuck at a desk, and the more value you can add to them. Right?

Beers: Mobile has been something that's been part of MapQuest right along. It comes in the nature of our business, which is getting people from A to B. So, it's intrinsically mobile oriented.

A lot of what we've been doing in the last couple of years has been developing what we've been calling native applications here. We've talked a little bit about some of the pain of that.

As to the question of HTML 5 and how this changes the picture for companies like MapQuest, we're beginning to see that these capabilities make it so that we can take technology that powers the website that people use on their desktop and repurpose that very quickly to provide a beautiful and powerful Ajax Web experience on modern smartphones.

An easy migration

We found that, considering the amount of development and energy that's gone into making our native applications, and has gone into the mobile website that we have out there right now, what it took to get a great application on the iPhone was minimal. It was very impressive.

A lot of what has made it so intriguing for us is the fact that we're doing real Ajax here on the devices. So, for the problems that have been around with Web apps, which are compounded when you're talking about a mobile network with a huge latency and everything, you really have tools to be able to handle those situations and provide a lot better user experience. It's finally starting to make sense as a Web application.

Gardner: Clearly if you peruse the Apple's App Store, as I like to do, we're seeing quite a shift. The games being promenaded first, but all of a sudden, we're seeing content providers, Web-service providers, and portal providers all coming out with their iPhone version. It doesn't seem like it was that difficult for them. Maybe it's not quite the same full set of features, but it's pretty darn compelling.

Beers: I think so. You asked me what really gets me up in the morning. The other piece of this is, looking at that difficult trade-off we have right now, HTML 5 seems to bring another possible answer to that trade-off.

It's not just a mobile Web story. We see companies like Palm coming out with essentially native application environments that use those

One way you can look at this, as far as where things will go, is you're starting to see phones that essentially will have two tiers on them.

tools for the presentation layer. That brings up all kinds of very interesting and productive new models for releasing essentially a native application that has really rich access to the underlying features on the device -- things like GPS and the accelerometer. That's also a very exciting application model for companies like MapQuest to look at.

Gardner: So, as a developer, it seems that, while it could be quite difficult, the best of these worlds would be to be able to take advantage of a certain set of native functions and specifics to a handset or even a carrier, but, at the same time, leverage what you can across the Web, in terms of Web services and the ability to mash up and take advantage of some of the rich Internet application features. How do you see that hybrid possibility evolving?

Beers: It's going to be very interesting. We're starting to see, with the Palm Pre and webOS, the first signs that this is going to be a new way that applications will be released.

You see another example with the Sprint's Titan platform, which hasn't had a lot of attention in the media. WebKit may actually be a piece of that story that's going to make you hear a little bit more about that.

One way you can look at this, as far as where things will go, is you're starting to see phones that essentially will have two tiers on them. You're going to see developers having a choice to say, "Do I want to be operating completely in JavaScript and exercise my skills there in the WebKit environment, or do I want to have some of the application logic below that, perhaps in a Java environment, where it's essentially being a local server on the device for the presentation layer on top?"

You start to combine those things, and it allows all kinds of different components that are out there and that have been driving the innovation in the Internet to come into play on mobiles in ways that we haven't seen before.

Gardner: Stephen, do you concur with that? Do you think we're going to see the equivalent of a distributed, multi-tier capability at this mobile-device endpoint?

Taking a different approach

O'Grady: Ultimately, we'll get there, and the Palm Pre is a great example, because Palm is taking a different approach to application generation. Undoubtedly, we'll see the hybridization of both Web and native features.

To some extent, we can see some signs of where this will head. Think of the iPhone and the ability of WebKit to automatically reformat due to the gyroscopic functions that are contained in the handset. A Web page can automatically resize itself if the handset is tilted one way or another. We'll see a lot more development like that, which combine the present Web applications with native abilities of the handset, and GPS probably is the most obvious example.

At present, however, the development story is still, generally speaking, one or the other. I don't think that we're there yet.

Gardner: It certainly sounds like an opportunity for the tools people. Let's take this over to Wayne at Genuitec. Coming from a Java, Enterprise, and Eclipse heritage, you're used to complexity. You're used to dealing with difficult integration problems, where developers are accessing assets and resources from a variety of different background technology sources. What do you have in mind for the tools aspect of what we've been discussing in the evolution of these mobile apps?

Parrott: Let me just echo what Stephen was talking about. We were talking about what will come in the future in terms of the hybridized,

One of the forces driving us has been enterprise organizations that want to move to the Web. They're being driven by their own workforce.

blended Web device-type programming model. Where we're at right now is that it's a binary decision. It's native or Web, for the most part, and the Web model is the lowest barrier to clear in order to go native.

Before we jump in and say, "Hey, mobile Web is it," I like to take the approach that, you can pick the right tool for the right problem or the right technology for the right problem. For anybody interested in mobile web, the first thing they should do is educate themselves and learn about what's out there.

If you're interested in mobile Web, Genuitec provides educational resources and a lot of good references. Again, the Web is replete with a lot of emerging information about mobile Web strategy, and we tie that together with our own experience.

Gardner: Let me be sure I understand. So are you talking about how to take an existing Web developer and train them to transition to the mobile Web, or are we talking about getting people native-ready for the mobile Web, almost from a starting blocks position?

Parrott: Obviously, one of the forces driving us has been enterprise organizations that want to move to the Web. They're being driven by their own workforce, sales staff, etc. I'm not thinking so much blue-collar, but white-collar staff that's very mobile, and wants to have a high connectedness, basically they want to run their businesses through their smartphones.

What they're pushing us for is, "How do we get there from here?" They already have a lot of their own infrastructure and resources in place, but moving that to the mobile Web has been a challenge for them.

First step: education

First, they need to be educated about what it takes to get there, looking it through, and evaluating their own resources. David mentioned the Ajax model, HTML 5, and the mobile Web model. It's not a static content type model. So, your traditional static Web developer needs to have some skills and awareness that it's much more functional. It's not just static data, but it's functional.

You have what we call the mobile Web programming model so that you can now build some very sophisticated functionality that you run directly in the browser. You have to be educated about what you want to run local. Do you want to serve static content or do you want to push functionalities directly to the particular smartphone device?

We're servicing both -- helping educate and provide tooling and educational services for both Web developers and traditional enterprise developers -- Java developers who are moving over, bringing their programming know-how and experience, and applying that to dynamic Web applications.

Gardner: It sounds like some path we've already been on. If you have a set of Java developers and you have a set of Web developers, how do they come together to form some sort of an alignment for the delivery

You have to be educated about what you want to run local. Do you want to serve static content or do you want to push functionalities directly to the particular smartphone device?

of these modern applications? That shouldn't be too different when you take them out to the mobile tier. Right?

Parrott: Definitely not, but at a higher level, an organization just needs to understand, how much and what kind of functionality they actually want to push out to the mobile Web. It's really our overall strategy.

Gardner: Right! There are architectural and network considerations that are unique.

Parrott: Correct. You have to remember that you're running on wireless networks. It's not running at Wi-Fi speed necessarily. There are things you have to take into account, as you work through the total end-user experience that you're targeting and then focus on what kind of developers have the experience to build and create that type of experience and delivery for your customers.

Gardner: What about Eclipse? What are some things going on there, some projects, interesting developments and innovation? We've certainly seen a lot of interest in OSGi over the previous year or two. What is the bearing that some of those activities have on moving out to mobile development?

Parrott: I can talk very specifically to one of the projects that Genuitec is heading up. It's called Blinky. The focus with the Blinky Project is to create a mobile-Web development platform. The concentration has been in two areas, both to provide frameworks for building tools that developers could then use for creating really compelling Web applications and also user interface (UI) frameworks or rendering frameworks.

You can think of these as themes. If you want to build a Web application and have it have an iPhone type look and feel, it's easily possible with the HTML 5 technologies. But, your starting point is to work with an existing UI framework that can help you create that kind of end-user native experience.

So, we're working on those two aspects. That's all of part of the open source. If anybody is not aware, Eclipse is a platform for building both tools and run times, and we're focusing mainly on tooling and the UI development in terms of the Blinky Project.

Gardner: Let's go over to the developer. Dave, this open-source development, I assume, is something you've been involved with, as a user, or perhaps a contributor as well. Tell me a little bit about the role that open source has in your mobile development, and then, if you're familiar with OSGi, does that hold any interest for you?

The benefits of open source

Beers: First of all, open source is very important to us from many different directions. We're using a lot of open-source tools. In my time as a developer, I've also had a chance to contribute to a lot of open-source projects, including Eclipse, and then kind of eat my own dog food. It's hard to be a developer these days and not be enjoying a lot of the benefits and productivity that come from the existence of open source.

OSGi is a particularly interesting area for me, and I think it may be becoming more important now with Oracle's acquisition of Sun, because it's really bringing about a new component model for Java, in particular. Part of this problem of fragmentation that we're talking about has to do with the fact that we deal so often, at least in Java applications, with these static stacks. We've got these configurations. We've got profiles. We've got all these optional packages in mobile Java.

OSGi presents the possibility of being able to have just the right stack for what you need and not to worry so much about whether the capabilities are there natively in the phone, because you can add them as a developer.

The idea of OSGi being a component model that's underneath, something like that WebKit layer, is an extremely powerful combination. There you've got standards at both of those layers that I was talking about. I'm very hopeful about seeing that evolve. I agree with Stephen, it's not going to happen this month, but I think we're headed that way.

Gardner: Stephen, any thoughts about it. With OSGi, of course, its heritage was in embedded. So, it's almost designed for this sort of a problem set?

O'Grady: I was about to say exactly the same thing. OSGi is eminently applicable, simply because it does offer you the componentization, to some degree, of the stack, as was just discussed. We've seen this before. Some of the mobile carriers have explored OSGi in varying degrees. We'll certainly see more of that.

The other Eclipse-related mobile story that's probably worth at least a mention is some of the Android work that's going on. There's a plug-in for Eclipse that will allow you to develop in Eclipse and toward the Android platform.

So, both on the server side with OSGi, as well as the tooling side, the client development side, with things like the Android SDK and some of the work that the folks at MyEclipse are doing, Eclipse will really have roles to play on both sides of that equation.

Gardner: Wayne, given that we've identified the mobile Web and its latest incarnations and innovations as an interesting way for the enterprise developers to move quickly to mobile, and the fact that they're getting the push for doing this from their own users, those mobile warriors, how do you get started?

If you're in this mode of training, experimenting, and getting up to speed, where do you even start on that process of going from traditional Web development to mobile Web development?

Parrott: I am going to go ahead and toot our own horn here, but at Genuitec, this is what we're specializing in. We provide a number of online resources and enterprise tools to help users target toward both their enterprise applications and also toward mobile. So, I would say, visit our site at

The other would be to educate yourself. As I mentioned earlier, there is just a wealth of resources on the Web. Genuitec will provide a book list

We've also learned how these approaches are going to make it easier for the enterprise to get these processes that they've of course invested many, many years and probably millions of dollars in, and bring them out to more users with more payback and return on that investment.

or a bunch of book lists that you can access, read up on, and kind of educate yourself, just to understand whether you really even want to get into this field or not.

Finally, one of the things that I am really proud of is that I believe what really gets you connected is seeing and believing. When I talk to some people, not everybody has access to a smartphone. They may have seen other people with them, but they don't necessarily understand or grok it. One thing that we provide is a very simple micro WebKit browser that you can install and it can run off your desktop. You can explore and experiment with the mobile Web in a way that gives you a first-hand type of experience.

Once you're beyond that, then you have additional roadmaps, depending on the type of complexity that you want to adopt and the type of applications you're going to build, and provide tooling and expertise around that.

Gardner: Okay, I'm afraid we're about out of time. We've been learning about how Web developers can better take their full PC browser applications out to a mobile tier, perhaps without losing the features. We're also looking at how those native capabilities on these handheld devices can be utilized as well, and bringing them together over time is something that I'm pretty excited about.

We've also learned how these approaches are going to make it easier for the enterprise to get these processes that they've of course invested many, many years and probably millions of dollars in, and bring them out to more users with more payback and return on that investment.

So join me in thanking our panel. We've been joined by Stephen O'Grady, founder and analyst at RedMonk. Thank you Stephen.

O'Grady: Thank you, Dana.

Gardner: We've also enjoyed the input from Wayne Parrott, vice president for product development at Genuitec. Thank you, Wayne.

Parrott: Thanks, everyone.

Gardner: And David Beers, senior wireless developer at MapQuest. Thank you, David.

Beers: Thanks all. I enjoyed it.

Gardner: I also want to thank the sponsor of this discussion, Genuitec, for underwriting its production. This is Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions. Thanks for listening, and come back next time.

Listen to the podcast. Download the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and Learn more. Sponsor: Genuitec.

Transcript of a BriefingsDirect podcast on new technologies and approaches that leverage the mobile Web for designing Web applications for hand-held and other mobile devices. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2000. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Transcript of BriefingsDirect Podcast on Music Search Technology and Implications

Edited transcript of BriefingsDirect[TM] B2B informational podcast on music search with Sun Labs, recorded Jan. 10, 2007.

Listen to the podcast here.

If you'd like to learn more about BriefingsDirect B2B informational podcasts, or to become a sponsor of this or other B2B podcasts, contact Dana Gardner at 603-528-2435.

Dana Gardner: Hi, this is Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and you're listening to BriefingsDirect. Today, a discussion with Paul Lamere, a staff engineer at Sun Microsystems Labs and principal investigator for Search Inside the Music.

This interesting research project is taking search to quite a new level. Instead of using lists of data about the music author, album, or composer, Search Inside the Music actually digs into the characteristics of the music, finding patterns, and then associating that with other music.

The possibilities here are pretty impressive. I want to thank Paul Lamere for joining us. Welcome to the show, Paul.

Paul Lamere: Hi, Dana. Thanks for having me.

Gardner: I had the opportunity to see your presentation face-to-face when I visited the Sun Labs’ campus in Burlington, Mass., back in December, 2006, and it really had me thinking for a few days after. I kept coming back to it and thinking, “Wow! What about this and what about that?” I thought it would be good to bring this to a wider audience and to use the medium of audio, seeing as it is so germane to this project.

Let’s get a little historical context. Tell us how you got involved with this project, why music, and how does that relate to IT in general?

Lamere: Okay, as you know, I work in Sun’s research lab, and our role as researchers is to be the eyes and ears for Sun. We’re trying to look out on the distant horizon for Sun to keep an eye on the interesting things that are happening in the world of computers. Clearly music has been something that's been greatly changed by computers since Napster and iTunes.

So I started to look at what's going on in the music space, especially around music discovery. The thing that I thought was really interesting is looking at Chris Anderson’s book and website, The Long Tail. You know, music is sort of the sweet spot for the long tail; the audio is a nice conveniently sized packet, and people want them. What we’re seeing right now is the major labels putting out 1,000 songs a week. If you start to include some of the independent labels and the music that's happening out on MySpace and that sort of thing, you may start to see more like 10,000 songs a week.

Chris Anderson said, “The key to The Long Tail is just to make everything available.” Now imagine not just every indie artist, but every kid with a drum machine in their basement and a PC putting on their tracks, and every recording of every performance of "Louie Louie" on the Web, and that same thing happening all over the world and sticking that on the Web. Now we may start having millions of songs arriving on the Web every week.

Gardner: Not to mention the past 800 or 1,000 years’ worth of music that has been recorded in the last 50 or 100 years.

Lamere: That’s right. So, we have many orders of magnitude, more music to sift through and 99.9 percent of that music is something you would never ever want to listen to. However, there is probably some music in there that is our favorite songs if we could just find them.

I’m really interested in trying to figure out how to get through this slush pile to find the gems that are in there. Folks like Amazon have traditionally used collaborate filtering to work through content. I’m sure you’re familiar with Amazon’s “customers who bought this book also bought this book,” and that works well if you have lots of people who are interested in the content. You can take advantage of the Wisdom of Crowds. However, when you have…

Gardner: They are working on the "short head," but not the long tail.

Lamere: That’s right. When you have millions of songs out there, some that people just haven’t listened to, you have no basis for recommending music. So, you end up with this feedback where, because nobody’s listening to the music, it’s never going to be recommended -- and because it’s never recommended, people won’t be listening to the music. And so there is no real entry-point for these new bands. You end up once again with the short head, where you have U2 and The Beatles who are very, very popular and are recommended all the time because everyone is listening to them. But there is no entry point for that garage band.

Gardner: Yes. When I use Amazon or Netflix and they try to match me up, they tell me things I already know; they haven't told me things that I don’t know.

Lamere: That’s right. Did you really need to know that if you liked The Beatles, you might like The Rolling Stones? So, we’re taking a look at some alternative ways to help weed through this huge amount of music. One of the things that we’re looking at is the idea of doing content-based recommendation. Instead of relying on just the Wisdom of Crowds -- actually rely on the audio content.

We use some techniques very similar to what a speech recognizer does. It will take the audio and will run signal processing algorithms over it and try to extract out some key features that describe the music. We then use some machine-learning techniques basically to teach this system how to recognize music that is both similar and dissimilar. So at the end, we have a music similarity model and this is the neat part. We can then use this music similarity model to recommend music that sounds similar to music that you already like.

Gardner: Yes, this is fascinating to me because you can scan or analyze music digitally and come out and say, this is blues, this is delta blues; this is jazz, this is New Orleans jazz. I mean, it’s amazing how discreet you can get on the type of music.

Lamere: Yes, that’s right, and the key is that you can do this with any kind of music without having any metadata at all. So, you can be given raw audio and you can either classify it into rather rich sets of genres or just say, "Hey, this sounds similar to that Green Day song that you’ve been listening to, so you might like to listen to this, too."

Gardner: Fascinating. So once we’re able to get characteristics and label and categorize music, we can scan all sorts of music and help people find what is similar to what they want. Perhaps they’re experimenting and might listen to something and think, “I wonder if I am interested in that,” and do all kinds of neat things. So, explain the next step.

Lamere: Well, there are lots of ways to go. One of the things that we can do with this similarity model is to provide different ways of exploring their music collections. If you look through current music interfaces, they look like spreadsheets. You have lists of albums, tracks, and artists and you can scroll through them much like you would through Lotus 1-2-3 or whatever spreadsheet you are using.

It should be fun; it should be interesting. When people look for music, they want to be engaged in the music. Our similarity model gives people new and different ways of interacting with their music collections.

We can now take our music collection and essentially toss it into a three-dimensional space based on music similarity, and give the listener a visualization of the space and actually let them fly through their collection. The songs are clustered based on what they sound like. So you may see one little cluster of music that’s your punk and at the other end of the space, trying to be as far away from the punk music, might be your Mozart.

Using this kind of visualization gives you a way of doing interesting things like exploring for one thing, or seeing your favorite songs or some songs that you forgot about. You can make regular playlists or you can make playlists that have trajectories. If you want to listen to high-energy music while driving home from work, you can play music in the high-energy, edgy space part of your music space. If you like to be mellowed out by the time you get home, you have a playlist that takes you gradually from hard-driving music to relaxing and mellow music by the time you pull into the driveway.

Gardner: Now, for those who are listening, I’m going to provide some links so you see some of these visualizations. It’s fascinating because it does look like some of these Hubble Telescope cosmos-wide diagrams where you see clusters of galaxies, and then you’re shown the same sort of visualization with clusters of types of music and how they relate.

If we take the scale in the other direction -- down into our brains and with what we know now about brain mapping and where activities take place and how brain cells actually create connections across different parts of the brain -- there is probably a physical mapping within our brains about the music that we like. We’re almost capturing that and then using that as a tool to further our enjoyment of music.

Lamere: That’s an interesting idea.

Gardner: Now, I’m looking here on my PC at my iTunes while we’re talking and I’ve got 4,690 items, 15 days of music, and 26.71GB. And it turns out -- even when I use shuffle and I’ve got my playlists and I’ve dug into this -- I’m probably only listening to about 20 percent or 30 percent of my music. What’s up with that?

Lamere: Yes, exactly. We did a study on that. We looked at 5,000 users and saw that the 80-20 rule really applies to people’s music collections: 80 percent of their listening time is really concentrated in about 20 percent of their music. In fact, we found that these 5,000 users had about 25 million songs on their iPods and we found that 63 percent of the songs had not been listened to even once. So, you can think of your iPod as the place that your music goes to die, because once it’s there, the chances are you will never listen to it again.

Gardner: I don’t want it to be like that. So, clearly we can use some better richer tools. Is that right?

Lamere: That’s right. Shuffle play is great if you have only a few hundred songs that you can pick and put on there, but your iPod is a lot like mine. It has 5,000 songs and it also has my 11-year-old daughter’s high-school musical and DisneyMania tracks. I have Christmas music and some tracks I really don’t want to listen to.

When I hit shuffle play, sometimes those come up. Also with shuffle play, you end up going from something like Mozart to Rammstein. I call that the iPod whiplash. A system that understands a little bit about the content of the music can certainly help you generate playlists that are easier to listen to and also help you explore your music collection.

So you can imagine instead of hitting shuffle play or just playing the same albums over again, you could have a button on your iPod, or your music player, that lets you play music you like. That’s something that is really needed out there.

Gardner: So, instead of a playlist, you could have a "moodlist." For example, I’m stressed and I need to relax, or I really want to get pumped up because I’m going to a party and I want to feel high-energy, or I have the kids in the back seat and I want them to relax. Your mood can, in a sense, dictate how you assemble a playlist.

Lamere: That’s right. Imagine that a few years from now, (it’s not hard to extrapolate with the new iPhone), we’re going to have wireless iPods that are probably connected to a cloud of millions of tracks. It’s not hard to imagine all of the world’s music will be available on your hand-held audio player in a few years. Try using shuffle play when you have 500 million songs at your disposal; you’ll never find anything.

Gardner: I don’t have the benefit of a DJ to pick out what I want either, so I’m sort of stuck. I’m not in the old top 40 days, but I’m in the 40 million tracks days.

Lamere: That’s right.

Gardner: Now let’s look at some practical and commercial uses. Professional playlists assemblers who are creating what goes into these channels that we get through satellite, cable probably could use this to advantage. However, that doesn’t strike me as the biggest market. Have you thought about the market opportunity? Would people be willing to pay another five dollars a month to add it to their service so they have all their music readily accessible? How do you foresee it commercializing?

Lamere: I’m sure you’ve heard of Netflix. They are probably one of the biggest DVD shippers and one of their biggest advantages is their recommendation engine. I’m not sure if you’ve heard about the Netflix contest. Any researcher who can improve their recommendation by just 10 percent will receive $1 million from Netflix. I think that really represents how valuable good recommendations are to companies trying to deliver Long Tail content.

Amazon has built their business around helping connect people with their content as well. The same things are going to happen (or are happening now) within the music world. There is a lot of value hooking up to people with music; getting them into the Long Tail.

Gardner: Can we easily transfer this into a full multi-media experience -- video and audio? Have you tried to use this with tracks from a movie or a television show? Is there an option to take just from the audio alone; a characteristic map that people could say, "I like this TV show, now give me ones that are like it?" Is that too far-fetched? How do we go to full multi-media search with this?

Lamere: Those are all really interesting research questions. We haven't got that far yet. There are so many interesting spaces to bring this -- for instance, digital games. People are interacting with characters, monsters, and things like that. Currently, they may be in the same situation 50 times because they keep playing the game over and over again.

Wouldn’t it be nice to hook up to music that matches the mood and knows changes or may even push the latest songs that match the mood into the games, so that instead of listening to the same song, you get new music that does not detract from the game? There are all sorts of really interesting things that could happen there.

Gardner: I saw you demonstrating a 3D map in real time that was shifting as music was going in and out of the library as different songs were playing. It was dynamic; it was visual; there were little icons that represented the cover art from the albums floating around. It was very impressive. Now, that doesn’t happen with a small amount of computer power. Is this a service that could be delivered with the required amount of back-end computational power?

Lamere: Yes. We can take advantage of all of the nifty gaming hardware out there to give us the whiz bang with the 3D visualizations. The real interesting stuff, the signal processing and the machine learning when dealing with millions of songs, is going to use vast computer resources.

If you think music is driving a lot of bandwidth now in storage and computation, in a few years when people start really gravitating toward this content-based analysis, music will be driving lots and lots of CPU cycles. A small company with this new way of content-based recommendation can rent time on a grid at a per-CPU hour rate and get an iTunes-sized music collection (a few million songs) in a weekend as opposed to the five or 10 years it would take on a couple of desktop systems.

Gardner: Interesting. The technology that you’ve applied to music began with speech. Is there a way of moving this back over to speech? We do have quite a bit of metadata and straight text and traditional search capabilities. What if we create an overlay of intonation, emphasis, and some of the audio cues that we get in language that don’t show up in the written presentation or in what is searchable? Does that add another level of capability or "color" to how we manage the spoken word and/or the written word? With my podcasting, for example, I start with audio -- but I go to text, and then try to enjoy the benefits of both.

Lamere: Right. These are all great research questions; the things that researchers could spend years on in the lab. I think one interesting application would be tied to meetings; work meetings, conference meetings, just like when you visited Sun last month.

If we had a computer that was listening to the meeting and maybe trying to do some transcripts, but also noting some of the audio events in the meeting such as when everybody laughed or when things got really quiet. You could start to use that as keys for searching content in the meetings. So, you could go back to a recording of the meeting and find the introductions again very easily so you can remember who was at the meeting or find that summary slide and the spoken words that went with the conclusion of the talk.

Gardner: Almost like a focus group ability from just some of these audio cues.

Lamere: That’s right.

Gardner: Hey, I’ve got something that you could take to the airlines. I tend to sit on planes for long periods of time and after my battery runs out, I am stuck listening to what the airline audio provides through those little air tubes. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were audio selections that were rich and they really fit my mood. This is a perfect commercialization.

Lamere: Yes, you can have your favorite music as part of your travel profile.

Gardner: This could also work with automakers. Now that everyone has found a way to hook up to their iPods or their MP3 equivalent in their automobile, the automakers can give you what you want off of the satellite feed.

Lamere: Definitely.

Gardner: There are many different directions to take this. Obviously you’ve got some interest in promoting Sun’s strategic direction. There must be some other licensing opportunities for something like this. Is this patented or are you approaching it from an intellectual property standpoint? If our listeners have some ideas that we haven’t thought of, what should they do?

Lamere: When you’re in the labs, the people who run the lab really like to make sure that the researchers are not tempted by other people’s ideas because it can make it difficult down the road. If people have some ideas they want to send my way, it’s always great to hear more things. We do have some patents around the space. We generally don’t try to exploit the patents to charge people entry into a particular space.

Gardner: Since this does fall under the category of search, there are some big companies out there that are interested in that technology. We have a lot of Google beta projects, for example, such as Google News, Google Blogs, Google Podcasts, and Google base. Why not Google Music?

Lamere: Google has two -- I guess, you may call them Friday projects -- on their labs site around music. One is Google Trends, and the idea there is they’re trying to track which music is popular. If you use Google’s instant messenger, you can download a plug-in that will also track your listening behavior. So every time you play a song, it sends the name of the artist and the track to Google and they keep track of that. They give you charts of top 100 music, top 100 artists, whatever. The other thing they have is a Music Search tailored toward music.

If you type in Coldplay or The Beatles, you’ll get a search result that’s oriented toward music. You’ll see links of the artist page and links to lyrics but, interestingly enough, they haven't done anything in public to my knowledge about indexing music itself. This is interesting because Google has never been shy about indexing.

Its mission is to index all the world’s information, and certainly music falls into that category. They haven't been shy about going up against publishers when it comes to their library project, where they’re scanning all the books in all the libraries despite some of the objections of the book publishers. But for some reason they don’t want to do the same with music. So, it’s an open question. But probably they’ll be announcing the Google Music Search tomorrow.

Gardner: At least we can safely say we’re in the infancy of music search, right?

Lamere: That’s right. I see a lot of companies trying to get into the space. Most of them are trying to use the collaborate filtering models. The collaborate filtering models really require lots of data about lots of users. So they have a hard time attracting users because until they get a lot of users, their recommendations are not that good. And because their recommendations are not that good, they don’t get a lot of users.

Gardner: The classic chicken-and-egg dilemma.

Lamere: Yes, it’s called the "cold start" problem.

Gardner: I firmly believe in the "medium is the message"-effect, and not just for viewing news or getting information. When I was getting my music through the AM radio, that characterized a certain way that I listened and enjoyed music. I had to be in a car, or I had to be close to a radio, and then I might avoid sitting under a bridge.

Then I had my LPs and my eight tracks and they changed from one song into an album format for me. We’re going back a number of years here. I’ve been quite fond of my iPod and iTunes for the last several years and that has also changed the way I relate to music. Now, you have had the chance to enjoy your Search Inside the Music benefit. How has using this changed the way you relate to and use music?

Lamere: That’s a good question. I agree that the media is the message, and that really affects our way of dealing with music. As we switch over to MP3s, I think listening to music has shifted from the living room to the computer. People are now jogging with their iPod and listening experiences are much more casual.

They may have access to 10,000 tracks. They’re not listening to the same track over and over like we used to. So I think over time music is going to shift back from the computer to the living room, back to the living spaces in our house and away from the computer.

I try to use our system away from the computer -- just because I like to listen to music when I’m living, not just when I’m working. So I can use something like Search Inside the Music to generate interesting playlists that I don’t have to think about.

Instead of just putting the shuffle play on The Beatles, I can start from where I was yesterday, and since we were eating dinner, let’s circle around this area of string quartets and then when we’re done, we will ramp it up to some new indie music. You still have the surprise that you get with shuffle, which is really nice, but you also have some kind of arc to the listening.

Gardner: So you are really creating a musical journey across different moods, sensibilities, and genres. You can chart that beyond one or two songs or a half-dozen songs into a full-day playlist.

Lamere: That’s right.

Gardner: Very interesting. Well, thanks for joining us, Paul. We’ve been talking with Paul Lamere, a researcher and staff engineer at the Sun Microsystems Research Labs in Burlington, Mass. We’ve been discussing Search Inside the Music, a capability that he’s been investigating. A lot of thoughts and possibilities came from this. Paul is the principal investigator. I wish you well on the project.

Lamere: Thanks, Dana. It’s been great talking to you.

Gardner: This is Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions. You’ve been listening to BriefingsDirect. Come back next time.

If any of our listeners are interested in learning more about BriefingsDirect B2B informational podcasts or to become a sponsor of this or other B2B podcasts, please fill free to contact Dana Gardner at 603-528-2435.

Listen to the podcast here.

Transcript of BriefingsDirect podcast on music search with Sun Labs. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2007. All rights reserved.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Transcript of BriefingsDirect SOA Insights Edition Vol. 8 Podcast On SOA Through the Eyes of Investors

Edited transcript of weekly BriefingsDirect[TM] SOA Insights Edition, recorded Jan. 12, 2007.

Listen to the podcast here. If you'd like to learn more about BriefingsDirect B2B informational podcasts, or to become a sponsor of this or other B2B podcasts, contact Dana Gardner at 603-528-2435.

Dana Gardner: Hello, and welcome to the latest BriefingsDirect SOA Insights Edition, Volume 8, a weekly discussion and dissection of Services Oriented Architecture (SOA) related news and events, with a panel of industry and financial analysts and guests. I’m your host and moderator, Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, ZDNet blogger, Redmond Developer magazine columnist.

Our panel this week consists of Steve Garone, a former IDC group vice president, founder of the AlignIT Group, and independent IT industry analyst. Welcome, Steve.

Steve Garone: Thanks, Dana, great to be back.

Gardner: Also Joe McKendrick, a research consultant, columnist at Database Trends, and blogger at ZDNet and ebizQ. Welcome back, Joe.

Joe McKendrick: Thanks, Dana, I’m glad to be back as well.

Gardner: Its also a return visit for Jim Kobielus, principal analyst at Current Analysis. Hi, Jim.

Jim Kobielus: How’s it going, Dana? Hi, everybody.

Gardner: Neil Ward-Dutton, also making a repeat appearance, is a research director at Macehiter Ward-Dutton in the U.K. Hello, Neil.

Neil Ward-Dutton: Hi there. Hi, everyone.

Gardner: Our guest this week is Trip Chowdhry, a managing director of equity research at Global Equities Research. Welcome, Trip.

Trip Chowdhry: Hi, everybody.

Gardner: Our topics this week are going to revolve around three meaty issues. The first is the business opportunity for vendors around SOA. How will Wall Street, the City of London, other markets, and investor organizations view SOA as a growth opportunity, and what sort of companies will benefit?

Our second topic is going to be around the rcent announcement at Macworld -- and we’re talking about the week of January 8, 2007 -- by Steve Jobs and Apple Inc. of the iPhone, and what this might mean for a mobile front-end: Is it just for consumers? Is there an enterprise aspect to iPhone? And what might be some implications for SOA and composite applications?

First, let’s dig into this notion of SOA as a business opportunity for vendors. Some of the things you need to ask as an enterprise buyer are: "Am I buying into a company that’s going to be around in five years? Am I getting locked into a technology or relationship? If so, will that vendor be able to devote the resources for R&D, for support?"

I’d like to know that my vendors and primary suppliers are healthy financially. Some news just today: SAP came out with some results from the fourth quarter that came in below their Wall Street guidance. So, a little bit of a shocker there.

Let’s go first to Trip, because you’re an equity analyst, how do you view this SAP announcement? Is it a blip or is there some other opportunity to look at the impact of SOA and how the business is changing for business applications vendors?

Chowdhry: Actually, if you think about companies like SAP who have very long implementation cycles, they have a lot of moving parts. It's a complex product, and the problem that SAP has -- and to some extent, most of the SOA vendors have -- is that they’re trying to solve complexity with complexity, and with that you can easily get a few early adopters.

When it comes to mass adoption -- or the second phase of product adoption that needs to occur to show growth -- then you really have to ease the product, ease the message. You have to tell what you do in one bullet point. So far, our research shows that NetWeaver and SAP, and some other vendors, have very complicated messages, which CIOs are now struggling to understand.

That is going to create some sort of a downward pressure near-term in SOA-based initiatives from a business and financial point of view. From a technology adoption point of view and a trials point of view, SOA is definitely a trend, but it seems like the messaging, the product, and everything else need to be simplified, so that people can know how one initiative can correlate and coexist with other initiatives they have going.

Gardner: That’s interesting, because a recurring theme of our discussions over the past several months has been the complexity and the lack of clarity and understanding in SOA messaging and the business value. It seems to be also impacting how investors and those who value vendors look at this as an opportunity. It's like they don’t quite get it.

Steve Garone, do you agree with that, and do you think that there are certain types of companies, vendors, maybe systems integrators, that might be able to benefit from this complexity and lack of clarity?

Garone: Yes, I do. Dana, let me go back to your statement regarding messaging. Yes, we have had a variety of conversations about that, and in particular this sort of chasm that exists between technology messaging and business messaging. This is an architecture and a technology that can provide benefits from the technical point of view, but also from the business point of view.

It’s not clear that either the end-users or the providers of technology are able to clearly articulate either of them or have them interoperate -- so to speak -- have them mesh into a coherent vision of what SOA actually is and what it can deliver. So, I think 2007 is going to be a very important year for sorting out all that within organizations, and therefore in the responses that vendors provide in terms of messages.

Trip, I really loved your statement, "solving complexity with complexity." I think that’s right on the money. Another way to put that is that despite the Nirvana that SOA allegedly can provide, it’s still fundamentally about integration, and integration is always a difficult and complex problem. So, vendors who can address that in a robust and user-friendly way, are going to have significant amount of success.

In terms of companies like SAP, they sort of come at this from the enterprise application side. They in fact are going to have to move toward a model where they can present their products as a series of loosely coupled services that adhere to standards, and can therefore be integrated with other applications and easily accessed and used. I think they’re moving in that direction. I’m not really prepared to say that being unable to do this, or the speed at which a company like SAP is doing this, is affecting their financial results, but I do think that that’s going to become pretty much the ante that these companies have to put up in order to actually continue to play the game.

Gardner: It’s interesting, I speak to some systems integrators, and I characterize SOA as the gift that keeps giving, and they chuckle and they nod their heads and kind of wink. If you’re are a services organization, professional services, then complexity, integration, and such long-term trends always tend to be positive.

Garone: Yes, I agree with that.

Gardner: They also say they think SAP and perhaps other business or package business applications providers, monolithic application providers, are going to be yielding to some pressure in the market. Of course, it's too soon to tell from one quarterly result. We are having a robust global growth. Gross domestic products (GDP) are in growth mode. Even if the United States is in two to three percent growth, many of the emerging markets are growing much more rapidly.

You would think that a global vendor like SAP would be also enjoying some growth. So, it’s too soon to tell if there is a longer-term trend here. Let’s go over to Jim Kobielus. Jim, do you think that complexity is bad for vendors, good for SIs, and can you think of any types of vendor that might be able to go to Wall Street and say, "We’re going to be worth twice as much in two years because of SOA?"

Kobielus: I’ve joked for many years with people that the more change you have, the more complexity you have, and the more need you have for consultants to come in and explain it all. So, there’s always going to be an opportunity for consultants and analysts to explain what things like SOA are and are not, and what their relevance is to the average business user.

In terms of whether complexity is bad for vendors or good for vendors, and so forth, let’s take a step back here. In terms of the business opportunities in SOA or that SOA creates, first of all remember that SOA is just an architectural abstraction. How do you shrink wrap and make sexy something that’s just a three letter acronym?

In terms of differentiating your value prop as a vendor in this market, one of the problem with SOA is that SOA essentially has an architectural approach, smashing and dissolving the ability for vendor lock-in, because everybody is implementing common standards with any-to-any interoperability. So, these SOA universes are getting so multi-vendor and heterogeneous, the complexity can be overwhelming.

In many ways, the number-one opportunity that SOA presents for vendors are for those vendors that can reduce the complexity by providing SOA suites of software and other components, and secondarily those vendors, those service providers, who can provide SOA and integration best practices to enterprise customers.

So, how do you shrink-wrap SOA? Well, these suites -- from the likes of SAP/NetWeaver, Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, etc. -- implement all the piece-parts of SOA, the portals, the app servers, the databases, and the UDDI registries. Next, the Accentures of the world provide the warm bodies and warm brains of professional services to crunch this complexity down into greater simplicity, and deliver end-to-end integrated solutions that leverage the largesse that an SOA universe provides.

Gardner: What about middleware? We’ve seen IBM in the last several quarters come out with its newest growth engine, its software division, and within the software division the growth is in middleware: WebSphere. So, suddenly we’ve got the largest vendor and perhaps the largest SI as well, but their growth is in middleware. Oracle has also come out with some results in the last couple of quarters that have shown some strength in their middleware offerings.

Is SOA perhaps a leader to a larger infrastructure opportunity on Wall Street? What do you think, Joe McKendrick?

McKendrick: Well, Dana, I think basically at this point the terms middleware and SOA are fairly synonymous. If you talk about middleware and offering middleware out to the marketplace, you’re talking about some type of standardized, componentized service-based offering. So, absolutely. Middleware and SOA is the direction in which companies are going.

In terms of the opportunities, there are essentially three levels or three types of offerings vendors can offer, and put out to the marketplace. On one level, you have the applications. Then, there are the services, the systems integration (SI) services. And, then there are the development tools used to build these applications or systems. Microsoft, of course, still reigns as king of development tools. It has plenty of competition.

What I find interesting is on the application level, and this is where SAP has a lot of work cut out for it. As we see more standardized, componentized middleware evolving into the marketplace, we’re seeing more of a commoditization of software taking place, just as we saw commoditization of hardware back in the '80s and '90s. This stuff is probably happening under the radar at the this point, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a Dell-type of business model begin to evolve in the software space, where you’re not an original equipment manufacturer or you’re not actually producing the software, but you’re pulling together components that someone else makes and offering it to the marketplace.

Gardner: Joe has raised an interesting issue, which is the business model. Let me take it back to Trip Chowdhry. Wall Street tends to frown on companies that are in cycles that have peaks and troughs, sometimes two or three years cycles. They’re difficult to predict. Wall Street prefers a recurring-revenue model that can show consistent returns and growth.

It seems to me that a move from an enterprise license approach, which we’ve seen in these large vendors, to a services-support-maintenance type of model, which we might expect with SOA offerings, might in fact please Wall Street. Do you have a sense of whether a shift in business model is in the offing and what it means?

Chowdhry: This is very good stuff that you mentioned, because there are some companies that are trying to innovate SOA as more of a service. There is a startup company called Mule, that’s trying to have -- I won’t say integration as a service, but has some SOA flavors to it. It’s not exactly SOA, but when I speak to these CIOs, they don’t say "I want SOA." They say "I want to make two systems work together with the least effort." That is a change over the last year. If that’s the problem, then the solutions could be many.

That’s one thing that we’re seeing. Then, of course, the Apache Foundation has its own product called ServiceMix, which is given out free, and JBoss coming out with its own SOA. Then, we have these commercial companies including BEA Systems, webMethods, and TIBCO, which have commercial offerings that are still on a license model. If you look at the various kind of plays in the market, one is software-as-a-service SaaS).

You have open-source alternatives like ServiceMix and JBoss, and then you have commercial pairs. Investors hate it when there is uncertainty, and there is no clear winner. Right now, there is no clear winner who can say, "Here is SOA." As someone on this panel mentioned, there is no product called SOA. You have a product called "database," but SOA is still a concept. And Wall Street is having a tough time putting a valuation or momentum behind SOA. Wall Street is thinking that any company that is in a disastrous situation evolves to be in "SOA."

IONA is one of them. WebMethods is another. TIBCO is struggling with growth. IBM, at the end of the day, is a services company, and since they are services company, they can push their own software the way it is, even though it’s not the best. BEA is also in transition. They don’t know what will happen to middleware. Oracle is trying to create a vertical stack. SAP is going with the horizontal stack. Microsoft is thinking the world is Microsoft.

Now, from an investor point of view, they see confusion and uncertainty, and when that occurs, they stay on the sidelines.

Gardner: All right, let’s take it over to Neil Ward-Dutton. Neil, it sounds like we ought to invest in bonds until this whole SOA thing gets settled down. What’s your perspective?

Ward-Dutton: I’ve just been listening to everyone and frantically writing stuff down. It’s interesting what Trip just said about how SOA is still not a product, and I absolutely agree with what some of the other guys said. It will never be a product. I think it's interesting about the observations that were made around IBM and Oracle in their middleware results, the contribution of middleware to their business. I think putting SOA in front of that is like putting the cart before the horse.

I agree with Trip in that what’s not happening is people saying, "I want SOA." What’s happening is a desire for delivering multi-channel services, dealing in a more consistent way with compliance mandates, making supply chains more flexible to allow better syndication of products and services, BPO and the need to integrate services across and between organizations. Those are the things that are being done, and SOA is more and more just the flavor with which those things are being delivered.

So, the big theme that is not going away -- and someone else said this five or 10 minutes ago -- is integration. It’s easy to think integration was a fashion in the late 1990s with Enterprise Application Integration (EAI), which incidentally was something that only really got off the ground once the big SIs got involved. The integration specialist players didn’t really make a huge market by themselves. What made a huge market that became a multi-billion-dollar market was actually the systems integrators. And, it’s the same with SOA.

Pure-play technology vendors providing really innovative little bits and pieces aren’t going to make a mainstream market. It’s only the SIs who really make that happen, because they can take a complex proposition and can actually communicate that effectively to the right communities that need to play into this.

Gardner: It would appear that SIs might be in the role of kingmaker when it comes to SOA -- if they are leading in terms of business opportunity, taking advantage of the change. They’re also going to be saying, "Well, here’s the best-of-breed that we suggest you use." IBM might favor its own software, but I think they’ve taken some pains to be a little bit agnostic or ecumenical.

If the customer says, "We’re an Oracle shop, and we want to use Oracle," then IBM will help them use Oracle. As Trip pointed out, IBM finds itself in a pretty good position because it has both the software business and the systems integration business. HP could also be considered in a good position. They have hardware, they have software partners, and they have this strong systems integration and professional services capability.

So, the question is: Are the SIs in a very strong and advantageous position over the next several years?

Ward-Dutton: SOA is a change in mindset. The challenge is primarily a change in the way you think about delivering capabilities through IT. So, what does that mean? Well, who’s going to make the money? The people who can help you change the way you think, not the people who give you bits of technology.

If you look at how the technology is being delivered, a lot of the technology that gives you the on-ramp to SOA -- the Web services enablement pieces -- those are being delivered free or nearly free as part of upgrades. The vendors are baking those technologies into products in the hope of making sure customers renew. That technology is finding its way to the market and to customers without lots of new money being spent. It's part of the regular upgrade cycle of technology, and the way that’s being procured.

The really interesting stuff is around change management, organization, and culture. That's where the real SOA market value is coming from. It absolutely plays into what everyone else was saying a minute ago about more of a subscription model on the technology side, because it's that kind of model that actually aligns the value of the investment with the value you’ll receive with the customer.

Gardner: Are you saying that SOA as a vision or a concept -- as it works its way into how people design, develop and integrate and manage and run their IT departments -- will in fact lower the amount of money that the market projects onto these vendors? Is that to say that SOA is a disruptive influence in terms of the amount of money required to do IT?

Ward-Dutton: No, at all. SOA does not create a whole pot of money to dive into. What it’s doing, because it’s a flavor of technology that’s being baked into existing upgrade cycles, is to create a replacement market. SOA-related technologies are replacing others.

Gardner: Let’s go around the table. I want to ask a very simple basic question and that is: Does SOA create more demand and more net spending over a two- or three-year period, or does SOA, in fact, spur on and create less IT spending? This is very general and aggregate, but we’re trying to determine whether SOA subtracts from the amount of money -- the pie that’s spent on IT -- or not? First, let’s go to Steve. What do you think?

Garone: Wow, that’s quite a question, Dana. I’m not sure that I can give a precise answer today.

Gardner: Gut instinct?

Garone: We’ve all recognized during these conversations that SOA is really just starting out, people are just really starting out with SOA. If you look at all the case studies that are around, and I’ve talked to end users about this, they’re really just beginning to ramp up with pilot projects or even small production projects, but it really hasn’t permeated a lot of organizations. There’s going to be a fair amount of money invested in new products and technologies, in training people to understand these and use them, and, in cases where you can’t do that or don’t see it cost-effective to do that, to go outside to system integrators to get that done.

Gardner: Steve, I was hoping for a short answer here.

Garone: I’m sorry.

Gardner: Is SOA a growth impetus or is it an contraction impetus?

Garone: I think it’s a growth impetus, especially in the short-term.

Gardner: Okay, Joe McKendrick?

McKendrick: It depends on how the economy does over the next two to three years, if the economy goes downward, we go into a recession or some type of economic downturn, when IT budgets decline, SOA will be seen as a strategy to cut cost. Formerly, a systems integrator would come in and spend about a year working on tying two systems together in an enterprise. If the two systems are SOA standardized to some degree, that could be shaved to a matter of weeks.

Gardner: So you’re seeing SOA as a cost-saving and somewhat of a contractor in terms of total spent?

McKendrick: If the economy goes into a downward cycle.

Gardner: Let’s just say the economy is adjusted, we’re going to have an adjusted perspective in terms of what the macro economics are.

McKendrick: IT spending probably will remain constant, but it’s going to shatter the types of projects that are out there. The systems integrators are in a tough spot because these one-year engagements that they could charge tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, of dollars for are probably going to be going by the wayside. You’re going to see a lot of smaller engagements, smaller projects.

Gardner: Jim Kobielus, what do you think?

Kobielus: SOA is primarily going to be a belt-tightening approach that will come in very handy when the economy turns down. I mean if you do SOA right, it’s the whole notion of "don’t reinvent the wheel." In fact, you share, reuse, and consolidate all your existing silos down into fewer silos that can be then repurposed into new applications fairly quickly though some open standards.

If you do SOA right, then the SOA-specific projects will result in a leaner, meaner IT organization. Conceivably, the budgets might remain the same, but the share of the money will go not so much into the SOA plumbing, as UDDI registries and so forth, but will go for value-added projects in terms of business process reengineering (BPR). This will be based on the project accelerator templates that more and more of these SOA software vendors are providing -- more of the high-level systems integration.

Gardner: So over time there might be a bump in spending in order to actualize and realize SOA advantages, but once they are realized, the total amount of money required for IT should go down. This means a smaller pie for the vendors, which means vendors will be fighting over a smaller total marketplace, and we can expect some of the bigger players to perhaps have an advantage there.

McKendrick: In any given IT project, the role of the IT analyst will shrink and the role of the business analyst will grow, because then the value-added will be in process optimization as driven by the business people.

Gardner: I dare say that productivity will increase, but again we’re looking at this through the lens of how to size the total market for SOA and how vendors will adjust to that. Neil Ward-Dutton, what do you think about this, is SOA a contracting influence over time or is it a growth influence?

Ward-Dutton: It’s neither. Things won’t change, and the reason has to do with the size of the pie. There’s a maturing view of IT as a business enabler out there, and so IT budgets are really going to pretty much track the overall business performance. The thing that is going to happen is, while the budget stays the same, SOA enables better choices to be made around where the money gets spent in IT. That’s what’s really important.

It’s about being able to draw a line between stuff you want to reduce cost on and stuff you want to go crazy on, because it’s where you really differentiate the business. SOA enables you to move that line, as and when you want. That’s really interesting. It puts the customer in the driver's seat. SOA is like table stakes for the vendors, SOA is not a net new market opportunity, it's table stakes.

Gardner: So, spending remains fairly neutral in real terms, but productivity as a result of that spending increases?

Ward-Dutton: Yes.

Gardner: Trip Chowdhry, you’ve done some studies, how do you see the total pie for enterprise software and infrastructure being affected by SOA?

Chowdhry: If you look at the big picture, the industry is going through consolidation. Companies are merging, and that definitely puts integration as a top priority. Even before the two companies merge, the second thing they look at is: Can the two ITs work together, can the two IT departments, can the two products and platforms, work together between the two companies that are merging?

Definitely, an SOA kind of an architecture makes the M&A activity more fluid, but the question is, Who will benefit? Would it be software product vendors or would it be system integrators and consultants? I think there will be in two phases. The first phase would be the system integrators and consultants will win, because I think when we speak to the CIOs, anybody who can help them understand the mess gets the money. In the long term, software vendors may make money relatively or literally more than the SIs, because they may automate and simplify many of these processes. But net-net I think SOA is good for IT sector as a whole.

Gardner: Why, exactly, is it good as a whole?

Chowdhry: Because the past infrastructure has been wasted on legacy technology. Now, business is being done across every geography. Even a small company has to interact with a producer in China, a call-center in the Philippines, a software developer in India. When you think about the companies that are evolving today, it requires strong agility.

If you don’t like your vendor in India, you should be able to fire it and immediately get another one -- say, in Ghana or South Africa -- up and running. What SOA provides for a business user is flexibility, agility and the ability to optimize your processes to get the resource where it is cheapest and sell it where it’s more profitable. From a business point of view, SOA is a dream come true. The only problem is that it's not mature enough for everybody to put their hands around. The biggest problem SOA has is people and vendors saying, "It’s a concept! It’s a concept!"

The day people say, "SOA is a product, and I have a SOA product," like a database, then overnight SOA can become a reality and it could show the same sense of maturity and adoption that databases or Microsoft Office have.

Gardner: Okay. So, for investors, they want to see a product that they can sink their teeth into and say, "This is SOA and this is how it’s going to be sold into the enterprise." That way I can estimate and value the monetary flow.

Chowdhry: Exactly. They want to have an SKU and hear the price. That’s their mentality. Concepts are very difficult, because there’s no end to concept. The pushback I'm getting is that the problem with SOA is that it’s a constant evolution of various standards. First, it was SOAP; then, REST, and then the whole community debate about which protocol is good and which is not. Whenever there is so much discussion going on, people step back and say, "Let them figure it out. Maybe I'll put money into it next year."

Gardner: My take on this is that ultimately SOA is a growth influence, because it’s been the history of IT that when you’re about to crest from investment into recovering productivity benefits phase, and the cost begins to go down, there’s yet another thing that you have to begin to invest in. So, it’s ongoing. We’re still in the early stages of IT. This is not going to be something that you’re just going to mature to and then pull the plug and say, "We’re all done." It’s a journey and the spending will ultimately continue to grow.

Let's go on to our next subject. This week we saw Steve Jobs get on stage and introduce a fairly innovative confluence of what we’ve seen in multiple devices and multiple services. He’s taken a mobile device footprint, put a flat screen on it, given it a GUI, with a touch screen, brought together communications, both in text and voice, together with a full-blown operating system -- in this case OS X -- that can connect through Wi-Fi and through its Cingular partnerships, the EDGE network.

I’ve been very encouraged by this. It does a lot of what I would like to do from a personal productivity perspective. The iPhone product isn’t due until June, and it seems as if the feature and function list is still not completely nailed down.

My thoughts go back to when the Apple Newton was first discussed -- we’re talking 10 or 12 years ago. There was some vision about doing away with the PC for many workers. Now, notebook computers weren’t nearly as ubiquitous back then, and they were heavy. They were kludgey. The batteries didn’t work so well. But this notion of having a small-footprint device that can pretty much do what you’d want a PC to do strikes me as something that’s still of interest to the enterprise.

We see a lot of vertical niche applications with this. For example, when a FedEx person shows up at your home with a package, they’re essentially carrying a mobile PC device, but it’s highly verticalized and very expensive. It strikes me as being a very significant development, if we could get a common-footprint approach, an industry standard approach to this. If we could bring that into the enterprise and realize some of these benefits around business process and around edge workers and knowledge workers and business analysts getting out of their cubicles, going to where the activity is happening. They could tap applications through a mobile full-function browser anywhere, anytime, at low expense.

Am I alone in this? Steve Garone, do you think that things like the iPhone, and the Sony Mylo -- although that’s been directed more at college students -- are going to be the end-points for SOA?

Garone: It’s an interesting question, and to me there are actually two questions there. One is whether this is a useful device for the enterprise. Based on what I’ve seen of the iPhone, personally I’d love to have one. It’s very cool. The indications that I get from people who are actually implementing solutions in the enterprise is that there are some questions around what email systems it can work with, how robust the email is, which of course is very important in an enterprise environment. I was a little bit turned off by the fact that this is a single carrier only, which I think is contrary to the whole notion of an open interconnected network, and SOA, in particular.

Gardner: Not to mention competition.

Garone: Right. We can all talk about the tendency of Apple to do things like that throughout its history. But conceptually these kinds of devices from the very beginning have been part of the SOA vision. The question is: Is this the right device, does it meet enterprise needs in terms of email, and in terms of application access?

Gardner: Couldn’t you do Webmail through the browser?

Garone: You could conceivably do Webmail through the browser, but we haven’t even seen this device yet so we don’t know.

Gardner: If it runs OS X, it probably will run the Mac Mail program which is a strong POP client.

Garone: I agree. One issue that could come up, though, is one of the visions that has been talked about in the context of mobile devices and handheld devices is being able to access and download parts of all applications and databases for local use. The question is whether this the kind of device that can do that in an open and robust way in terms of other platforms and other technologies?

Gardner: Now, you mentioned you’d like one of these personally. This is how the PC entered in the enterprise. People liked PCs and they brought them in. They weren’t sanctioned by IT. They called them toys and trinkets. Perhaps the same effect could happen with something like the iPhone. What do you think, Joe McKendrick. Is this an end point that will find its way into the enterprise?

McKendrick: It’s interesting. I suspect it remains to be seen how deeply consumers embrace iPhone or whatever they’ll be calling it a few months from now. It’ll be interesting to see if this is something that enterprises embrace, which I don’t think will happen, I think it’s going to be kind of a bottom-up percolation.

Employees will be bringing these things into work with them, just as the cell phones and smart phones and PalmPilots had their roots, and the PCs began back in the early 1980s -- not as a deliberate strategy of the enterprise to reach these devices. But if there’s enough of a critical-mass of employees who are using the devices -- the iPhones, in this case -- then enterprises will begin to take a second look and reach out. I don’t think enterprises are looking at it right now or will be looking at it when it’s introduced in a few months.

Gardner: Jim Kobielus, do you see this as taking a step toward that notion of a mobile device that’s closer to a PC but does voice and other things that the enterprise could make good use of?

Kobielus: Oh yeah, for sure. But I don’t see anything terribly revolutionary in the iPhone, other than the fact that it comes from the Steve Jobs godhead. There’s no doubt that Apple does great design, does a great marketing, and does a great zeitgeist. They made a splash with the Newton and look what happened there. What in the iPhone is not already being used in corporate environments in a major way? People are carrying their iPods into the office and using them to listen to podcasts, or using their cell phones. They’ve already got mobile messaging and mobile browsers in a variety of devices that they’re using.

Gardner: They use iPods as a mobile storage device, too.

Kobielus: It's a nice design. I don’t want to sound to flip and cynical about it, but it's one of those things where Apple does a very good job, just like Microsoft does, of getting the average person on the street aware of the fact that we are reaching some sort of a tipping point in terms of putting these things in the hands of the average individual and the average office worker. Quite frankly, I’d like to wait another six to 12 months to see if this gets any traction in the enterprise arena. It probably will, but I don’t think there is anything strongly differentiating this particular client device.

Gardner: What do you think, Neil? Is having a low-form factor, but highly functional browser, something that will blow this open, something that brings together the necessary ingredients for a whole greater than the sum of the parts?

Ward-Dutton: No. Something I always try to remember is that I am not typical, and it's something I need to burn into my forehead. I am not typical, and I’m afraid neither are you guys. You are atypical. Most people aren't anything like us and don’t have our interests, nor all the time that we have to think about this stuff.

That mistake was at the heart of an awful lot of the far-out rhetoric that you heard in the late '90s- and early 2000-time around the previous generation of PDAs and mobile computing and how it was going to revolutionize the way that all business processes were enacted. They’re not, because actually it’s a minority of people that need this functionality. Most people aren’t mobile workers.

Gardner: Is it just another hype-curve here?

Ward-Dutton: I’m afraid so. As a consumer and an individual who loves gadgets, I think it's incredibly lust-worthy. I read some of the reviews and they'd crawl over broken glass to get one. It’s not going to be cheap, but as an individual, I think it’s awesome. Someone just said, "I’ll wait six to nine months." I’ll wait six to nine years.

Gardner: Trip Chowdhry, what do you think? You’re in Silicon Valley. Is this something that’s going to have an impact on the enterprise?

Chowdhry: Actually, I did see the iPhone at Macworld and I was very impressed. It seems like the name may have to change to Apple Phone, because Cisco has sued them. I think there are definitely enterprise kinds of applications that could work very easily on it. That is based on the demo that I saw at Macworld. First of all, browsing is very good -- very, very good. I would say very, very impressive.

It's very easy to use. If somebody sends you an email attachment or PDF or Word file, you can see it like you'd see it on a computer. It's totally amazing. You can expand it and contract it. The visual things are very good. Instant messaging is another application, which -- at least in the financial sector -- people like to communicate with.

Someone on this panel mentioned that the feature-effects are not complete. I think down the road there will be two or three versions. One could be for teenagers, one could be for a business user edition or small business edition, and the third could be for entertainment. The IM feature, as well as email and attachments, which are very business-centric, could do very well.

IM was one of the things I feel could be a killer app. I wouldn’t believe that many of the enterprise applications, like of stuff or running some mobile enterprise ERP system, on this PDA would do justice to it. But you can effectively communicate with your colleagues without a lot of baggage, and have four hours of battery life and being able to carry a very small battery as a spare.

I think it’s a good form-factor that can fit in every pocket. The feature sets still needs to be sorted out, but it’s a development platform. So, third-party guys will also come out with their own platform. First step, it will be a good replacement for products like BlackBerry and others.

Gardner: I tend to look at this optimistically in regard to the enterprise. I think that for salespeople, the mobile warriors, for those who are in the field, or internally on a factory floor, for example, this pulls together a lot of what was necessary and doesn’t require the integration on the back end.

The IT people will say, "Listen, all the stuff we’ve got can be plugged into this, whether it’s through the browser, through POP, through other standards of instant messaging. We can have a VPN go to it, and have secure access through the browser to our applications."

I think what makes this an intriguing to the enterprise is that Jobs and company have done the integration for them, and they don’t have to go and take each and every application or function and force-feed it to a device. That's done through standards and it could be very interesting as an accelerator to replacing the laptop and even desktop computer for a lot of workers.

Chowdhry: We think more in terms of data, but the people who were standing next to me [at Macworld] were representing a biotechnology company. They said, “I'll use iPhone at work, just to make sure I can scan through my voicemails.” That’s a feature where you can preview your voicemails just like you preview your emails. They felt that was the killer application for the enterprise. They said, “We have 20 to 30 voice messages in the morning. We have to go from one to thirty without knowing which one is important.”

Gardner: As I have alluded to in some of my blogs, if we bring Voice over IP (VOIP) into this, and we can do telephony and get the convergence benefits of having CTI and other benefits from an all-IP environment -- a lot of what we used to think of as "unified messaging" becomes a reality. And, as you say, that’s a very important productivity benefit.

McKendrick: Dana, this is Joe. The real test for the iPhone will be if a year from now we can do this entire podcast all using iPhones.

Kobielus: The problem with iPhone is that the hoopla surrounding it has still got us fixated on this notion that we all need or want one gadget for everything. I think the way it's all shaking out is that each of us possesses a federation of gadgets of our own. I don’t think so much that iPhone is a replacement for your laptop or even for your desktop, but rather yet another device that will hook up with them in various ways, through Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and so on.

Then, you can zip all kinds of contents back in forth. What interests me more than iPhone from this past week is Apple TV or iTV, whatever they’re calling it -- the IPTV appliance. That seems to me to be a more exciting development on the whole. In a year’s time, we simply can be doing this video podcast using Apple TV.

Gardner: I would just add to that. I think this is going to reduce the number of gadgets I’ve got to have. In a sense, my notebook computer becomes my server, and it serves my television as a node using something like Apple TV or TiVo or Slingbox or whatever it might be. My notebook computer becomes my server for my content, so that I can manage it up to the cloud or to the other devices. It could be the cell phone, an iPod, or an iPhone. It really increases the value and strength of what the notebook computer does. It gives me a mobility node and also a home entertainment node. And that’s, I think, the vision here.

Kobielus: Didn’t Apple release, or didn’t they discuss, a home server this week as well?

Gardner: No, that was Microsoft, at CES.

Kobielus: Microsoft, I get these guys mixed up.

Gardner: The notion of a server is necessary, but whether we actually want to go out and buy another $1,000 Microsoft device that’s going to require a systems administrator behind every potted plant in every living room is still an open question.

Kobielus: I think it’s inevitable. I think the whole notion of a SOHO server is coming to the fore, I think every household in the world is going to have its own SOHO server before long, to coordinate this federation of gadgets and channels.

Gardner: Will it be a discrete box or will it be a virtualized server, where part of it’s on the cloud and part of it is just availing the extra power, capacity and storage I’ve already got on my notebook computer?

Kobielus: It’s a so-called set-top box repurposed.

Garone: Now, Dana, this is Steve. I just want to ask a sort of a devil’s advocate question here. Given what you just said, how does that pertain to the enterprise?

Gardner: Well, it’s interesting because if more and more people do this and they're getting this great functionality, productivity, and I guess you could call it client-server approach for their home and their personal life, and then they walk into their enterprise and they’re left with this kludgey, uncoordinated, un-integrated stuff, they’re going to be thinking, "Wow, I’d be better off having my SOHO and be a contractor to this enterprise than I would be by being actually a member of the enterprise."

Garone: That’s probably true, but I think what I’m getting at here is you see this as a very powerful browser, and certainly you can’t argue with that. But in terms of doing real enterprise work on this device, is this the right device for that at this point in time? I’m not getting the sense that it is -- maybe some day.

Gardner: I think it’s a combination of a notebook computer and something like the iPhone, because all the enterprise has to do is put things into an IP stream and put it onto a VPN, and that way I can access it through my notebook if I want full feature, or my iPhone type of a device if I want mobility. Plus that same device can then be something I use in my home for entertainment and managing my personal life as well.

So, for me this frees up the enterprise. I, as a user, have to worry about the node, the end-device. And they, the enterprise IT department, simply need to worry about putting their applications or their services or their SOA services into a stream through IP through a VPN.

Garone: That paints the picture of this device being an extremely thin client that communicates with and leverages assets that are on a server.

Gardner: It’s a rich convergence client, which is really what people have been looking for.

Chowdhry: I had a comment regarding the iTV, I saw it. Actually, I came back little less optimistic about it, because it uses Wi-Fi, and there are serious problems with Wi-Fi if you want to deliver high definition TV. Wi-Fi has a lot of problems with collision and jitteriness. They were showing some high definition videos on iTV and you could see jitteriness. For the way it’s being positioned, delivering high definition TVs within your home, at maximum you could only do it as one channel.

I am little less optimistic about that, because the right technology for something like that is probably a power-line technology. There’s a company, I think its called DS2, which has these 200 megabits-per-second chips that you could just broadcast right over your existing home networks. Some company -- I think its LG Electronics or Samsung -- are trying to use broadband 200 megabits power per second right into the electrical outlet. With that, you can deliver four to five high-definition streams.

Probably the first generation of iTV could just have mere success. It will take at least two or three years before iTV also incorporates some of these power-line technologies to get at least consistent broadband within the home.

Gardner: That’s a good point. The iPhone, iTV and even the AirPort (the Apple Wi-Fi device) are limited right now. But the fact that they are putting so much emphasis into it tells me that there are might be further generations of these wireless network capabilities out there that they’re banking on. It’s the paradigm that they like. Whether the current level of standards and capabilities meets the task of the future remains to be seen.

Okay, folks, we’re about out of time. I want to thank our guests: Steve Garone, Joe McKendrick, Jim Kobielus, Neil Ward-Dutton and Trip Chowdhry. Thanks all for joining.

I’m Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions. You’ve been listening to BriefingsDirect, SOA Insights Edition. Come back and listen again next week.

If any of our listeners are interested in learning more about BriefingsDirect B2B informational podcasts or to become a sponsor of this or other B2B podcasts, please fill free to contact me, Dana Gardner at 603-528-2435.

Listen to the podcast here.

Transcript of Dana Gardner’s BriefingsDirect SOA Insights Edition, Vol. 8. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2007. All rights reserved.