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SaaS and Managed Services August 29, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Business, Technology.
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Software as a Service, and related modes of deploying and providing enterprise business services, has revolutionized the software industry in the last few years. Currently there are SaaS applications for many functions such as HR, Finance, CRM, IT asset management, and more. Serus Corporation is a leading provider of enterprise software that addresses needs in the operational management of outsourced manufacturing activities. Our solutions can be deployed in either the traditional installed software model, or hosted and provided in a SaaS model.

Operations management includes a large number of complex business processes, and interactions between different business organizations, within and across your supply chain. We believe that the requirements to meet these operational challenges go beyond the typical SaaS solution and include a set of Managed Services, in which solutions providers are also helping organizations run their enterprise, adding “people-smarts” into the set of “software-smarts”. For instance, we currently provide software and managed services to semiconductor manufacturers, with software providing data management, reporting, and analysis, and managed services to handle operational exceptions, server management, and cross-organization support.

In this document, we provide a summary of SaaS, current trends in SaaS, our definition of the Managed Services space, and our view of the future. (more…)

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Web Services and How to Benefit from Them August 22, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Technology.
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The W3C defines a Web Service as “a software system designed to support interoperable Machine to Machine interaction over a network”. Web services are frequently just Web APIs that can be accessed over a network, such as the Internet, and executed on a remote system hosting the requested services.

Examples of web services deployed today are those supported by information utilities such as FedEx, Amazon, eBay, and more.  By using such web services, you can programmatically post a listing on eBay, order a book on Amazon, or schedule a shipment on FedEx. (more…)

Where’s the Content? – Reviewing Content Collaboration Software August 16, 2007

Posted by Jeff in collaboration, Technology.
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In our previous posting, we considered the levels of collaboration.

This document is being used to compare software products that are for content collaboration, in the above definition.  Most of the commercial products listed here were exhibiting at the Enterprise 2.0 conference, though we have been tracking a few before that. (more…)

Fabless IC Technology Handbook is Released August 12, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Announcements.
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Serus is very pleased to have been chosen to contribute material to the new handbook “Understanding Fabless IC Technology”, written by Evert Wolsheimer and members of the Fabless Semiconductor Association.  It is available here on Amazon.

Serus contributed material for Chapter 8.5 on the information ecosystem.

Fabless Book Cover

Service-Oriented-Architecture and Supply Chain Management August 3, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Technology.
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Service-Oriented Architecture, or SOA, is an approach to building software systems that has evolved from distributed computing. Distributed computing is a model in which the processing of the application is split over a number of computer systems. A simple example would be an application in which one computer implements an order-taking web application, supporting the web browser, but another computer implements a part catalog lookup function, and the first computer “asks” the second for lookups when needed. In this example, part catalog lookup is a “service” which can be “requested” or “invoked”.

The benefits (covered in more detail below) for using such an approach include scalability and flexibility. The scalability stems from having the part catalog service farmed out to a pool of computers implementing the service, thus avoiding having it become a bottleneck. The flexibility stems having different implementation and even hardware choices for the collections of computers. In addition, if there are multiple services, some of these could communicate with each other to carry out an activity.

The term “SOA” refers to the set of standards, conventions, and mechanisms used to manage the requesting, or invocation, of services across a range of computer systems. These standards are akin to the W3C standards that make the Internet operate, or the SQL standards that make database operations work across the different database companies. Many of the SOA standards are called, or include, the “Web Services” standards.

An SOA framework is a set of software layers that implement those standards. They are based on the HTTP and XML standards of the W3C, but then go beyond to define activities, securities, failover policies, communications policies, etc. The SOA framework is an integral component to an SOA-based product, and is typically not visible to users. SOA frameworks are provided by all of the large software applications companies, including IBM, Oracle, SAP, Microsoft, BEA, etc., and have been integrated into most recent application suites.

A related term is “Software-as-a-Service” (SaaS), in which the service, such as part catalog management, has been packaged for use through resources within your organization such as web browsers, but is physically located remotely. SaaS applications are end-user oriented solutions, and typically have aspects of SOA within them, as they are all driven by end-user requests.

Footnote: The standards that make up the Internet, such as URLs, protocols, and HTML are managed by a third-party non-profit consortium called the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium). The W3C members include software firms such as IBM and Microsoft, as well as university and government representatives (remember that the Internet came from university and government). A similar example is that the SQL database standards are now managed by an ANSI committee. There are about 5-7 layers in the SOA standards from basic protocols up to load balancing and business process definition. They are also managed by W3C. Agreement has been generated on the lower part of these layers, while the top ones are expected to be ratified over the next year. (more…)