Serena promises dev teams shorter hours
Office managers gone wild
Those awfully nice folks at Serena Software have promised to cut your workload with tools that'll let non-IT staff take care of tedious, line-of-business Office applications.
The application lifecycle management (ALM) specialist has launched its Mashup Composer and Mashup Server for the visual development and connection of workflows and interfaces.
In two weeks' time, Serena also plans to launch 13 free, pre-packaged workflows spanning sales and customer management processes in Salesforce.com, and that also tip into application development with request-to-test management using Hewlett-Packard's Mercury's Quality Center software, and Agile's SCRUM. More packages are due next year for portfolio and issue management.
Sporting an Office 2007 interface, Mashup Composer plays to users running Microsoft Office building with macros and Microsoft's Visual Basic for Applications (VBA). Serena's goal, though, is to go further, and have more Office users build applications to offload these requests from overworked developers.
"Many of the requirements are relatively simple - ways of extending functionality or automating common business process. They are ripe for tackling with business mashups," senior director of product marketing Nathan Rawlins said.
While this might sound like Heaven, do you really want business types cobbling together their own stuff and clogging up your IT infrastructure and risking security? According to Serena, the system draws on the company's experience in change management and governance so applications go through peer review and versioning procedures.
The bad news, though, is you - programming and project experts - won't get oversight, as there's no integration with Serena's bread-and-butter ALM tools.
If there's something that might dampen the business users' enthusiasm, it might be price. Mashup Composer is free, but the price of running mashups starts at around $10,000 for an unlimited number of mashups, and between 10 and 15 users on a perpetual license. That could be difficult to justify when you've already got Office and VBA tools.
Serena plans a software-as-a-service (SaaS) version next year, although pricing is not set.
So, how does Mashup Composer and Server work? Using Mashup composer, users will be able to model workflows and map inputs and outputs that are published to the mashup server. The Server renders the user interface, and orchestrates the workflow processes, such as the 13 due next month. The server ingests the WSDL to make connections and uses a URL to map the two connection points. According to Serena, the composer is capable of designing database connections to tables and fields and uses interfaces such as JDBC to connect to connect to the database.
Mashup Composer and Server will only be as good as the ecosystem of partners building pre-packaged workflows that enable integration and orchestration with really big software like Oracle or SAP: currently Serena claims 40 partners, and neither Oracle or SAP are among them.®
What a great idea !
No, seriously, from a business point of view this has to be great.
Sell a product that allows the management, who has no technical know-how whatsoever, to define their own security rules and object definitions.
And who, in management, is going to actually, you know, READ THE MANUAL ? Who is going to take the time needed to implement a test environment ? How many suits are going to worry about side effects before going in and implementing their latest brainstorm in production ?
The management is going to love it, fiddle around with it, and - most importantly - continually break everything. And when something is broken, what will management do ? Ring IT, of course, and issue a terse "fix it !" command because, you know, this thing has to work RIGHT THIS INSTANT.
And IT will slave away at the trash that the managers put in until it's fixed, get no thanks at all for their efforts and just pray that those suits won't break the thing again in the next five minutes.
I think we've got a winner here !
would anyone really use something with the word "mashup" in the title for serious business purposes?
30 years and still going (well, almost)
Ever since I joined the data processing department I have read of many efforts to make me superfluous. It hasnt happened, well struggling a bit at the moment while retraining takes its effect, but it was retraining into a different technology, so I expected some difficulties.
Anyway, we had The Last One, DJ AI Systems, which was going to read a definition and generate a bug free system. We have had software houses asserting that all software will be pre packaged. We have had dozens of 4GL languages and Microsoft re inventing everything back to the 50s. Quite, well ...
What have we learnt in all of these years ? That users with a bit of knowledge are a damn nuisance, they consume inordinate amounts of technical support time and all of a few lines of <4GL, Other generator name> which no one wants to use, but if they do, it is the IT department that has to sort it out.
Now, I have no doubt that this product is a good idea (for someone) and that it is well developed and would make life easier for professionals. If you take a product like, Focus (from Information Builders), which is handed to end users to produce reports (remember MIS), you find a proliferation of reports, all exceedingly similar, and only one is used. Which one? is in the mind of the user, when they leave, you have no way of knowing what they were doing or were trying to achieve.
SQL was intended as an end user tool, so users could manipulate the database without bother the Data Processing department. Now, hands up, who allows users to use SQL direct against the corporate database ? Anyone ?
So don't do it anywhere else either.
Just because one company has developed a product doesn't mean you should all jump to using it, especially with programming tools.