Friday, June 30, 2006

Office 2007 slips again...

Microsoft has announced another delay in the shipment date of Office 2007.

The news article quotes Michaie Silver, a Gartner analyst, on an important point - a point that must be a source of considerable heartburn for enterprise who bought the 'future" story of Microsoft:

"Gartner analyst Michael Silver noted that the delay in Office could hit some businesses hard, particularly those that signed volume license contracts in late 2003. Such Enterprise Agreement or Software Assurance contracts offer, among other things, the right to any new versions of the product that come out over a period of time, typically three years.

"Each month they miss is another group of customers that renewed EA or SA in 2003 that got no new version of Office for their payments," Silver said. "It was just March when Microsoft emphatically stated that Office 2007 would be on the October price list. Even at close range, they can't forecast this stuff."

In other words, people paid money to Microsoft for an upgrade that they never got. Boy, it must be making them- oh so mad.

One rule that I have learnt the hard way. Avoid paying for anything that is going to be delivered in the future. Even if the person who is promising you the future is the biggest software company in the world. Pay post delivery. Pay now for what you get Now.

Poeple who think about buying Duet which would deliver more value packs in the future than it does today, may want to consider the past record of one of the Duet members.

- Sangeeta

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Things Vendors do - Hope that does not happen with Duet

Check out this link for a strip from Dilbert Comic. What a take on vendors and lock-ins!

Let us see the product road map for Duet. Value packs to be delivered in the future, Development tools to be delivered in the future, Excel connectivity to be delivered in the future...Hmmmmm, Makes one uncomfortable, does it not?

- Sangeeta

Monday, June 19, 2006

FAQ about Duet: As heard at SAP Summit, Mumbai

Last week I was at the SAP Summit in Mumbai, India. Great event, with some 2000 people participating, maybe about 60/70% of attendees were SAP customers or actively considering SAP for their ERP application.

All the three presentations on Duet were enthusiastically attended, some 400 people, with several people standing and crowding at the doors. The speaker faced a barrage of questions - here is what got frequently asked, across multiple sessions, sometimes by more than one person:

Q1. Can Duet be extended to other business processes?
Ans 1: Not at this time. It is right now limited to the four scenarios we have. Later we will build value packs.

Q2: Can I build my own Duet scenarios? Can I build links to MS Office for myself?
Ans: Not at this time. A Duet development toolkit is currently being created and will be given out to partner companies later this year. GA would follow. Another option being announced by Microsoft is LOBI program, which uses Office as a front-end interface and provides development interfaces to developers. Details are not yet out at this time.

Q3: Will I need to buy SAP license for Duet even if my user has a SAP license and a domain license and a Office license?
Ans: Yes. ( Disbelief from the audience)
Q3- repeated by the same person: Maybe you did not hear me right. I said I already have a SAP user license, and have a Office license. Would I still need to buy ANOTHER Duet license?
Ans: Yes.

Q4: What about Excel? Will Duet include Excel? Or will that be a seperate license?
Ans: Yes, Excel will be included in Duet. Dates to be announced soon.

Q5: Why do you need SQL Server in Duet?
Ans: Duet needs SQL Server to store its repository. You need what is known as Lean SQL Server (I think thats what the guy said)

Q6: The current scenarios are more for project companie, and only for employee processes. What about manufacturing companies? Can I use Duet for my SCM application and create Outlook processes with my vendors?
Ans: The SCM scenario using SAP is planned in value pack 2. If you have some other SCM application, Duet would not work against that.

I walked out at this juncture. I could sense the feeling in the room, of Duet being not being what they thought it was.

Outside, a bunch of CIOs were sharing notes. One CIO said that he would wait for the next upgrade cycle for the desktops. Maybe by then, Vista would have shipped, several more value packs would be out, and maybe the development tools would be out as well. One said that he did not see himself spending on Office upgrades to get this level of functionality, and for only one application SAP. Another CIO lamented that he had hoped Duet would hekp him reduce his licensing by providing SAP access on Office. Alas, this was not to be! Another CIO wondered - Would this reduce my TCO, how? One CIO looked puzzled, "This thin delivery is so unlike SAP..."

It is.

- Sangeeta

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

People wise up to see the upgrade agenda in Duet

As recently pointed out, Duet enables Microsoft to push upgrades.

One can understand why Microsoft is doing it, but the reasons for the other Duet partner to do it continue to escape me.

- Sangeeta

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Why Write a Blog on Duet?

Duet is a category creator kind of product in the area of desktop connectivity, an issue close to my heart, and one that I am invested in, in multiple ways. I like the fact that industry chiefs, SAP and Microsoft, have recognized this end-user pain, and that some of the issues I have seen end-users battling with, would be resolved in the future. Several folks from the blogosphere have wondered here and here why I have chosen to write a blog about a specific product.

I write about Duet because I have serious misgivings about the way it is composed. The way Duet is created, it would have the world believe that end-users can ONLY achieve desktop connectivity if they did the “n” things that Duet asked them to do – ie Upgrade desktops, install huge middleware, upgrade SAP itself etc. But this is not so.

I know. We have done it with much much less.

Knowing what I do, I cannot but speak about how a technology product is being crafted and architected in a manner by industry leaders that pushes additional priced components to an unsuspecting customer. Duet is the almost the first BIG product in this category, and customers don’t really know that desktop connectivity can be done any other way except the Duet-way. And hence, this blog on Duet.

Incidentally, it is not that the flaws pointed out by me have been unnoticed by others. I have, in fact blogged here about how I felt when I found like-minded folks saying the things I have known about Duet – about limited scenarios, about it being too-much-for-too-little, about its lack of legacy support, and its lack of development tools.

I must add that I do admire SAP for its market insight and its astuteness in recognizing the need of end-users, and creating Duet. With Duet, SAP has built a serious competitive differentiation vis-à-vis Oracle. Jeff, brilliant moves here by you and the anti-Oracle team of SAP, by crafting this competitive strategy. Some day, if and when Oracle falls behind, it may find Duet had a lot to do with it. For those who are interested, here is my take on the desktop connectivity battle here and how it may affect the enterprise vendors in the future.

On technology side, I like the SAP side of the Duet middleware architecture, with its Netweaver middleware based on ESA framework, even though I struggle to understand its reason to upgrade to mySAP ERP versions. But what I really dislike is the way Microsoft has pushed in its own upgrade agenda by choosing an IBF based framework, while responding to desktop connectivity problem. Whatever Duet’s functionality is, SAP could have delivered the same without involving Microsoft. Adding Microsoft to the desktop connectivity solution has muddied the picture – added upgrades, created the need for giving piece-meal value packs, tied it up Microsoft development plans – worst, took away the development framework and tools. Including Microsoft in this project adds no value to SAP customers.

I cannot see why SAP had to do this. I asked Dennis Moore, the “father” of Duet about why SAP chose Microsoft’s IBF as its development platform here, and I have not heard from him yet.


Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Evolve Ads of Microsoft

Here is one of the Evolve ads of Microsoft I spoke about in my last post. They are, ummmm, rude.

Rude to people who do not bite the carrot for the unnecesarry upgrade. People who do not want to shell out more money to keep on doing the same stuff.

Calling your own customers dinosaurs - how can that be nice ? Looks like customers need to be called filthy dirty names, complete with pre-historic pictures to jolt them into upgrading to the new versions. Microsoft sounds desperate. For more rudeness, check out the Evolve flash movie from the Microsoft site.

The recent people ready ad, though completely inane, is at least not humilating.

And SAP agrees to be a party to this kick-butt way of selling things, and wants to sing Duets about it? Why should it?