Feeds

BEA, IBM get social too early

Buy your anarchy toolset now

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

Earlier this year, both BEA and IBM announced upcoming additions to their middleware offerings that would extend the ability to incorporate Web 2.0 functionality, such as creating mashups.

Now both companies have made more extensive announcements, with each including a subtle but significant shift towards branding the additions as well as providing the social computing model in a form compatible with business applications.

This is an interesting twist in that the rise in not just popularity, but the perception of significance of services such as MySpace, YouTube, Flickr, Digg, Wikis, blogging, and del.icio.us, not to mention Second Life, has suddenly given social computing a prominence in the mindset of business systems strategists that was not there even six months ago.

There are certainly some tricks to be learned from the way these applications provide an environment for users to play within. These tricks can, and probably should, be applied to the future development of business-related services. Mashups and Wikis are two obvious candidates that have immediate potential as tools in building new business services.

But there are signs that the software industry, in its keenness to jump on the social-computing-as-business-tool bandwagon (indeed, to be seen as driving it), seems to have lost sight of one of those tricks – namely that none of the social software tools started life as a planned product with a defined sales cycle but rather emerged from small groups of people sharing a common view that "if we could do this it would be 'cool'". To paraphrase the Irish saying, they were doing it for the craic, not the meeting of business goals.

It may seem a trivial point, but this is in practice a subtle difference to the position being taken by BEA and IBM. In essence, they are adopting the view that social computing trends are going to be significant, so business users need to buy a set of tools that can be integrated with the existing product sets the companies produce. This does seem to be putting the cart before the horse in the traditional way of software vendors, where the obvious vested interest is to convince (primarily existing) customers that they are going to need "Technology X" soon, so they had better buy it from their favourite supplier right now.

The product carts now being offered will no doubt prove to be excellent, but without yet knowing what the horse of user/business needs might be, there is no way of knowing whether they may match up.

The trouble is many of the social computing technology providers have already been bought up by bigger companies that play in the social space, so the business software vendors don't have open to them the traditional option of cutting deals with the start ups, and then acquiring them. To get Flickr and or del.icio.us now, they would have to buy out Yahoo! lock, stock and barrel. The only alternative is to come up with their own alternatives.

Seven Steps to Software Security

More from The Register

next story
KDE releases ice-cream coloured Plasma 5 just in time for summer
Melty but refreshing - popular rival to Mint's Cinnamon's still a work in progress
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU
On-by-default INMEMORY tech a boon for developers ... as long as they can afford it
Another day, another Firefox: Version 31 is upon us ALREADY
Web devs, Mozilla really wants you to like this one
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.