Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Software Defined Environments

Software Defined Environments (SDE) is the future.  Bold statement eh?  Well here is some evidence of that very thing.  First of all, you probably know or have heard about "The Cloud", ah well that is an SDE itself, the Cloud is all about software creating an environment that mimics a physical machine, down to its operating system and run time environment.  So with that you can say SDE with Clouds of all types, is here today.

IBM is betting SDE is the future, just read http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/40726.wss

"Software Defined Networking (SDN) is an approach to network design and management that moves the control of network switches – which forward data through an enterprise – from the switches to an extensible software platform with open interfaces. By doing so, administrators can easily manage and change the priorities of switches remotely to accelerate, moderate or block certain types of data from flowing through their network. The result is greater enterprise performance, scalability and security.
The IBM Software Defined Network for Virtual Environments (SDN VE) is a virtual overlay network solution that automates and speeds the process of setting up such SDN networks. In addition, SDN VE enables network administrators to speed up traditionally time-consuming tasks such as network provisioning from days to hours."
IBM is also using SDE techniques with its PureSystems http://www.ibm.com/ibm/puresystems/us/en/index.html to improve efficiency and flexibility.  If you want to deploy an application on a new virtual machine it is all done in software.  

Financing for PureSystems

How IBM Flex System Manager compares

See how Flex System Manager compares versus competitor

As an IBM BusinessPartner O4BO brings all these SDE based tools to bear on our customer's solutions, from Small Businesses with SaaS solutions that are integrated with other SaaS solutions, to Large Enterprises that need robust integration and managed services, we are positioned to do that better than anyone because we have added a number of services to the mix.

Our Context Aware Rules Engine (CARE) is a SDE that allows Dynamic Event handling for any application either inside the O4BO environent or legacy systes or even other vendor's SaaS solutions.

Our Integration as a Service includes CARE and an Enterprise Service Bus that allows SDE for workflows and Business Proceses.

Software Defined Environments are the future, for O4BO, IBM and our subscribers.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Customized SaaS

While many SaaS companies now offer some form of customization, all too often that just means some custom "User Definable" fields on a few tables, and perhaps some GUI gadgets or portlets.  But even those that have extensive SDK and API functionality like Force.com do NOT offer customization of the basic application either in look and feel or behavior.

That's understandable, and even acceptable to many if not most consumers of these SaaS solutions.

I have written before that in the Open Source world, some 90% or so of these are downloaded but never go into production.  There are many reasons cited for this, but today's post is about just one of them...."It doesn't quite fit what I need."

So what do you do when any application doesn't quite fit what you need?  Maybe its because it was designed and developed for an industry unlike your own.  Maybe its not feature rich enough, or that to use it you must either change your business practices or do manual labor to work around the limitation.  Or maybe you will buy a customization in your industry or hire someone to do it, both of which adds costs and make Open Source less attractive by adding costs.

So what are you the Small to Medium sized Business that doesn't have the money to invest in custom software?  You previously had no choice but to find the closest match and make do with what you can afford?

That's changing, and with O4BO we can show you how you can get the solutions you need at prices you can afford.  How do we do that?

  1. We start with Open Source solutions for Accounting, Enterprise Resource Planning, Inventory, Customer Relationship Management, etc.
  2. We make these available as Software as a Service.
  3. We integrate these into a Platform as a Service
  4. We integrate these with an Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) and expose their Application Programmer Interfaces as end points on the ESB.
  5. We integrate our own Context Aware Rules Engine which is also integrated on the ESB.
  6. The ESB can have per tenant custom workflows that can include additional business logic or behaviors.
  7. The Context Aware Rules Engine can take any event from any of the integrated applications and build a custom workflow that incorporates both the ESB and all its end points as well as work with Filters and external Rules and Business Processes to allow for integration not only on a per tenant basis but to interact and interoperate with legacy or even external SaaS applications.
  8. The Context Aware Rules Engine has a REST interface such that we can quickly change the screens for any application to change the look and feel of the tenant's specific pages without having to change the underlying application.
So what can we customize and how:

  • One Tenant wants to update his accounting when a Prospect turns into a Customer by capturing the update event in the CRM and detecting the change of status and taking the Prospect's records from CRM and synchronizing with there accounting system in O4BO, while a different tenant wants to do the same thing but from SalesForce.com to the accounting system in O4BO...both are accommodated by the above customization features.
  • One Tenant wants to detect a sale in their ERP eCommerce system, to add a penalty for one class of customers only that the ERP system does not support.  We add an event processor in CARE that sees that sale and does the busness logic and adds the penaly line item to the sales invoice for the integrated ERP system in O4BO, while a different tenant wants to send a separate invoice for those items with serial numbers, which the ERP system doesn't support....both are accommodated by the above customization features.
  • One Tenant wants to use his own screens for his Management team and another set of screens for his back office staff in the accounting system to allow for adjustments to adhere to special contract firms on a confidential basis, while a different tenant using the same application has but one default set of screens...
  • One tenant is transitioning from SalesForce.com to our own CRM system, but cannot afford to stop work while the data is migrated, so we build a temporate workflow that synchronizes all the data from SalesForce.com with the new CRM tool with zero down time, and once the new tool is evaluated to be sure nothing is lost, we turn off SalesForce.com and delete the custom rules that did the migration.
  • One tenant wants a Portlet in our Liferay Portal to be shown only for key management people and the dashboard in the Portlet to show confidential data that spans several tables...A simple workflow as created that executes only when certain people view that Portlet and uses the ESB endpoints to collect the information and display the dashboard, no other tenant has either that dashboard or workflow.
  • One tenant needs a situational application that pulls data from several sources, does forecasting and provides a spreadsheet interface for what if analysis.  We can build that for the customer using our Platform as a Service Rapid Application Development tools with the existing ESB endpoints to get access to the data and do it without any low level programming at all.
Customized SaaS, why yes we can do that.