What defines enterprise level software? It’s usually defined by software written for groups or organizations rather than for a single person. Enterprise software has historically been large, expensive systems backed by huge companies such as Oracle and Microsoft. Has this changed? “Cloud” computing has been promoted for a while as the solution for downsizing the costs of running enterprise level systems. Wouldn’t it be great to outsource the entire server room and not worry about hardware failures ever again? It sounds like a fantastic idea, but it hasn’t caught on in large organizations.
There are various reasons why, and I won’t go into detail on all of them. One of the reasons is that corporations are slow to move to new technology. They want it to be bullet proof; they want it backed by a company so they can get support now. Enterprise software has to meet these criteria. Of course the cloud has large backers also, like Amazon and Microsoft, but they don’t work well with each other.
Let’s not forget social media. You have your facebook account, twitter account, and google account. You update people about where you are on foursquare. You post videos of yourself on youtube, you checkout your friends on flickr, and most of all, you have to know what your friends are doing right now. Communication used to be simple when there was email and telephones, but now there are dozens of ways to communicate.
Now if you’re a corporate man like myself, you understand a different version of “social media.” You know it as voicemail and email. You search the web on your BlackBerry more than you do on your computer. You’re a proud corporate man. You segregate yourself from the rest of the social world. You know enterprise as the Microsoft Office suite.
So what’s different between corporate enterprise software and cloud services? One word, integration. You know if you buy Exchange Server, it will run perfectly with your Windows XP clients, and run beautifully on Windows Server 2008. Your email syncs to your phone and people can schedule meetings while knowing if you are available. Cloud services are run by multiple companies with little to no integration. It’s in their best interest to not cooperate with their competitors. You can see this just by the fight between Google and FaceBook. We have been using Microsoft for so long that it’s in our blood. It will be hard to dilute it.
Along comes this college student pitching his simple idea to a large crowd last Friday night at Startup Weekend. Why not take one step forward? Why not create a simple interface to all of the services you use? In comes ubercmd. Finally you wouldn’t have to worry about syncing all your contacts to five different locations. The interface is a simple, intuitive, fast command line type page. For a terminal junkie like myself, this is great. Just type email mark@codef... oh wait, it’s already there. And it’s showing my twitter and facebook accounts. Now three ways of contacting me instead of just the one you were about to do. It’s so simple, yet so brilliant.
So how does this tie into enterprise software? It is one step forward to interoperability between all the software you use in the cloud. That means we can stop paying the Microsoft tax and move towards simpler SaaS. Small companies can finally compete without having to pay outrageous pricing. It would be great if their 37 signals accounts would connect with their Google apps accounts. Finally the level of connectivity that Microsoft and IBM junkies have had forever.
Of course, this is a pipe dream, for now. All they have is a demo. This is where you can help. This group is in the running to win a trip to meet VCs in California. You can vote for them to win so this dream can finally come true. There are just so many possibilities on how this idea can grow and I’ll be the first to sign up when a public API goes live. Go check out startup weekend’s winning ideas and vote for the one you want to see win.