But Wait, There's More
First 'Industry Builder' Solutions for Axapta Now Available
Microsoft last week unveiled the first solutions under the Industry Builder initiative that it announced earlier this year, including five versions of its Axapta ERP system especially crafted for customers in the retail, distribution, process manufacturing, professional services, industrial equipment manufacturing, and field service management industries. The Industry Builder program, which Microsoft unveiled in March, basically enables customers of select ISVs to sign a single Microsoft support contract that applies to both the MBS core modules, as well as the vertical application modules developed by the participating ISV.
The first batch of industry-specific solutions connected with Axapta include: a supply chain execution solution from Manhattan Associates; a process-centric ERP package from Fullscope; an accounting and professional services application from Foliodev; an industrial equipment manufacturing package from To-Increase; and a field service automation application from Iteration2. Although the Industry Builder initiative is currently limited in scope, expansion is on the horizon, says Craig McCollum, a vice president at Microsoft Business Solutions. "As we indicated earlier this year, we're starting out with a focus on very specific industries and geographies, but the Industry Builder initiative is global in concept." Future releases will expand the initiative's scope in terms of both industries and geographies, he says.
Microsoft Looking Into Critical Security Vulnerability in IE
Microsoft may issue an out-of-cycle patch for an extremely critical flaw in Internet Explorer that is being exploited by hackers. The Clunky-B and Delf-LT Trojans exploit a flaw in IE that security researchers discovered months ago, but which Microsoft has not yet patched. Microsoft is not due to release its monthly batch of patches until Tuesday, December 13. However, because exploit code has been posted to the Web and attacks are underway, the company is considering issuing an emergency patch to stem the spread of the Trojans. The malware can infect and crash a computer when a user visits a malformed Web site using IE on Windows 98, SE, ME, Windows 2000 Service Pack 4, and Windows XP SP1 and SP2. Visit Microsoft Security Advisory-911302 for the latest news and workarounds.
.NET to Ease Transition to XML for Endpoint Exchange Network
Three years ago, Endpoint Exchange deployed what has become a successful check imaging solution called the Endpoint Exchange Network. Written with Microsoft's .NET technology, the application has attracted 5,000 customers, and was used to deliver 8 million images in September 2005. The original Endpoint Exchange Network was written to handle the financial industry's X9.37 standard for image exchange. Now, there's a new XML-based image exchange standard on the horizon called X9.81, which Endpoint Exchange is helping to hammer out as part of the ACS X9 Committee. But supporting that new standard won't be a problem, says Jeff Vetterick, general manager, Endpoint Exchange. "The major benefits provided by the Microsoft .NET technologies are the sharp increase in developer productivity and the new technology paradigm that will allow us to quickly implement features that the check image exchange and electronic clearing and settlement process demands," he says.
Microsoft Plans to Open 30 Global 'Innovation Centers' in 2006
Microsoft announced plans yesterday to open 30 more Microsoft Innovation Centers (MICs) to augment the 60 it already has founded around the world. A MIC is a data center where customers and partners can perform a variety of tasks, such as trying out Microsoft's technologies, architect and stress-test a customer installation, or certify third-party products for compatibility with Windows products. (In this respect, a MIC is a lot like a WIC, which is what IBM calls its WebSphere Innovation Centers.) Microsoft already has 60 MICs in, Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, Japan, Malaysia and other countries, and plans to open another 30 in 2006. Currently, the company has plans to open facilities in Korea, India, and South Africa. Bill Gates, Microsoft chairman and chief software architect, says the announcement shows Microsoft is listening to its partners in government. "We are especially pleased to be supporting the national IT goals of many of our host countries, including efforts focused on job creation, fostering innovation and entrepreneurship, and creating more competitive software ISVs," Gates said.
Microsoft Lands HPC Expert from Cray
Microsoft's future in the high performance computing (HPC) brightened a bit last week when The New York Times revealed that the software giant had hired Burton Smith, former chief scientist at supercomputer maker Cray and the founder and chief scientist at Tera Computer. Smith's MultiThreaded Architecture (MTA) supercomputer concept made Tera enough money to buy the Cray vector supercomputer business in March 2000 from SGI, which had bought most of Cray in 1996. Microsoft recently released the first public beta of Windows Compute Cluster Server Edition 2003 (see "HPC Version of Windows Server Goes to Public Beta"). The software is expected to ship during the first half of 2006.
ACOM To Launch No-Frills Content Management System
ACOM Solutions threw its hat into the content management software ring last week with the unveiling EZContentManager, a new Windows-based application. When EZContentManager ships early next year, it is expected to help companies centralize the storage of documents originating from a variety of locations and sources, including iSeries and Windows servers, while providing access to the documents from any desktop or Web browser. ACOM is billing EZContentManager as a low-cost and no-frills content management system that will satisfy the basic content management needs of most of its clients, which are predominantly mid-size companies. Company officials accept that EZContentManager may not offer all the features contained in high-end alternatives, but maintain that enterprise-strength features are overkill for most companies, that these features are often not used and contribute to higher acquisition and implementation costs.
When the first version ships next year, EZContentManager will include basic workflow functionality, and the capability to route documents, such as a sales order, to another employee's inbox for approval. Users will be able to search for and retrieve documents via a Web browser or directly through Windows Explorer. Distribution options include printed copies or electronic e-mail and fax interfaces. The software is undergoing beta tests at customer sites, and should become generally available in early January, the company says. ACOM will concentrate initial sales efforts on its base of 3,500 customers (most of whom use iSeries servers) that have deployed its document management software. Licenses for EZContentManager will start at about $10,000 and range up to $75,000. The company is offering a plethora of licensing options, including named and concurrent users and enterprise site-wide licenses.
Evans Data Survey Says Companies Are Developing New Code--Finally!
According to surveys of application developers in North America performed by Evans Data, companies are beginning to work on new applications--finally--and are starting to do so with 64-bit technologies. Evans Data surveyed 400 developers in North America for its October 2005 survey, and found that client/server application development (by which they mean two-tiered application) surged by 30 percent in the past six months; client/server technologies had been in decline among developers in the past three years, because they were apparently working on other problems. The survey also finds a 19 percent increase in developers who are spending the bulk of their time writing new code. And, significantly, development for 64-bit architectures has exploded by 61 percent since the fall 2004 survey, driven in large part by the adoption of 64-bit memory extensions for X86 chips, but also by the prevalence of 64-bit architectures for other machinery.
The latest survey pegs Java as the most commonly used programming language, with 48 percent of developers in North America using it for development. Evans Data didn't specify what the other programming languages were popular (you have to pay to see that data), but clearly Visual Basic and .NET come in as number two, probably followed by C and C++ and then other languages like RPG and COBOL. Interestingly, Evans Data found that 70 percent of developers are working mobile applications of one sort or another.