Altabel Group's Blog

Archive for March 2011

In past years, the release of a new Web browser was a big deal as various competitors fought for market share. However, in the past few years, the browser wars seem to have fallen into a kind of cold war, with market share among the players holding relatively steady.

On March 14, 2011, Microsoft released the final version of Internet Explorer 9 touting the browser’s ability to deliver a more beautiful Web experience. Bellow you may find some LI members’ opinions about this release.

Nigel Ridpath says:
«I downloaded IE9 today and I have to say it appears to be a bit quicker generally. There still seems to be incompatibility around. I was checking our Google Adwords account (perhaps there’s a clue there!) and part of that site didn’t work. Funnily enough it was fine in Chrome.
I mainly upgraded to check the experience with Microsoft Dynamics CRM. That was definitely a bit quicker.»

Charles Caro thinks:
«I have downloaded and installed IE9. It definitely looks different, and it appears to run a little quicker. All considered it really doesn’t show me anything more than what had been available from several other browsers for some time. What I don’t like is that the space for tabs does not extend across the full width of my monitor, which would be very nice for anybody that has more than a couple websites open at the same time. Also, I am sure there is no way to go back to IE8 in case I decide I really don’t like IE9. In other words, I don’t think there is a way to take IE9 off my system, which is something I can do with any other browser in the event I am not satisfied with what I see.»

Richard Nuttall shares:
« IE9 is better than IE6,7,8 , but still a long way from Chrome in terms of quality and speed. Only use it if you have to. IE9 is likely to continue to lag the others in terms of security holes as well, another reason to avoid. IE9 is NOT the first to tap hardware speed boost either. All browsers take advantage of hardware boosts via the graphics layers which drop down to hardware as and when they can. The MS claims are, as usual just hype.»

David McClellan:
« I downloaded it today without any high expectations (after being a Firefox user for the last 3 years). It is fast, clean and seems to work fine. It is apparent that Microsoft has spent a lot of time building a robust browser. Although, I will still probably still stick with FF or Chrome.»

Patrick Hendry:
« Given the large Windows XP installed base, especially in corporate accounts, it’s a curious decision to drop XP support. If MS thinks IE9 will drive upgrades to Windows 7 they haven’t considered the easier and cheaper alternative, change the browser. I’m not a big fan of the combined URL/Search box but this seems to be the trend now.»

I’d like to add, that Internet Explorer 9 works well and has several fine new features, it also asks users to change the way they think about Web sites. The ultimate success of IE9 may very well hinge on Microsoft’s ability to convince users to accept this change in thinking as a more “beautiful” way to experience the World Wide Web.

What do you think of Microsoft Internet Explorer 9? Have you tried it? What, specifically, do you not like about IE9? What do you like?

Altabel Group

This is hard to answer without knowing company’s current process. You cannot go agile alone. The whole process shall go agile. Process means a business with roles, different types of activities, corresponding work results and sometime some associated projects.

There are many different ways for going agile. The main criteria that matter includes are:
– How much risk are you prepared to take?
– How keen / desperate are you to become agile?
– What ‘good things’ do you want ‘agile’ to give you?
– What aspects of the context you work in would get in the way of becoming agile?
– What does your team already know?

Key questions about the context for transformation to agile are:
– Is the context more focused on Enterprise or Project?
– Do regulations and the need for compliance with them form a significant constraint on the project?
– Does the way the work is governed apply constraints that impact our ability to be agile?
– Does the mind-set of the people involved constrain what we can do?
– Does the inherent complexity of the application constrain how agile we can be?
– Is the team small enough to be able to use the common agile practices effectively?
– Is the work split across teams or representatives from more than one organization?
– Does the team all sit together with the customer in the same room? If not, what degree of geographical separation do you really need to live with?

Unless you work in the ‘right’ context with respect to all of these questions, you either need to change your context or select carefully which set of practices suit your context – applying the standard set won’t work well.

Also one of the first steps in the transformation is to make sure you have executive sponsorship for your agile project.

Kristina Kozlova
Altabel Group

Putting applications in the cloud offers the promise of reduced costs, flexibility, accessibility, not to mention the possibility to dramatically improve the way your IT works. But to reap all these benefits, you need to make the correct decisions when defining your cloud strategy – especially when it comes to your choice of development platform.

And if you deal with custom enterprise applications, more likely than not you’ll have to choose a cloudy-ready platform to develop, build, test, and deploy them.

Here are 7 things you should take into account before picking your brand new cloud-ready platform:

1. Avoid lock-in – Code and Data: Your code and data are part of your competitive advantage. You must own them. Make sure that, if the need arises, you can smoothly and safely transfer your code and data away from your cloud provider with minimal business interruption.

2. Easy to move between on-premise and cloud: What’s departmental and on-premise today may need to be global tomorrow. What’s currently published on the cloud may become regulated and required to move on-premise the day after. Having the flexibility to easily move back and forth between the cloud and on-premise is a big plus.

3. Easy to scale horizontally: One of the big advantages of the cloud is that it allows you to grow your data-center as you need. The platform you use needs to be able to take advantage of this flexibility.

4. Lifecycle support – ready for fast change: It’s not just about running applications in the cloud; your choice of platform needs to support the full lifecycle. You need to be able to develop, test, and change your application really fast.

5. Easy, fast & safe to deploy: This is part of the lifecycle, but it’s important enough to have its own bullet! In order for you to be as fast as your business demands, you need to be able to deploy your app quickly and often. And you need to know that, should something go wrong, you can quickly revert back to a previous instance.

6. Easy to integrate: Integration will always be a big part of custom application development. You need to make sure the platform you pick integrates easily with your apps running on premise, with your cloud apps, or with off-the-shelf packages.

7. Secure: One of the biggest concerns around the cloud-computing is security. Pick a development platform that seamlessly handles this issue for you. This is important not only at time of deployment but also from the application execution perspective. If your platform handles this for you, you will save a lot of time and headaches in the future.

What would you add to this list? What are your main concerns, and what do you look for when thinking about your cloud strategy?

Altabel Group

Nokia has recently joined with Microsoft to product Windows Phone 7 instead of popular Google’s operating system Android. Nokia is all set to bring new Windows Phone 7 series phones in coming days. Bellow I have quoted some opinions of LI members who shared their ideas on the topic raised in the question.

«I think the interesting thing about this partnership is that the results will probably be binary. It will either be massively successful or a total failure. Nokia’s reputation for hardware and massive distribution channel could be the missing element to finally allow WP7 to cross the chasm. And Microsoft having native integration in to Nokia’s hardware could make them a viable iPhone killer. Or there could simply end up being no synergies whatsoever and Nokia will continue to lose market share, while WP7 will continue to be an also-ran mobile-OS. I don’t see much room in the middle for mediocre success. Particularly for Nokia who really has to go “all-in” to salvage whatever market position they still have».
Jason Dea

«Painful for Nokia. I think this decimates in house developers, software teams etc. The truth is MS paid billions to get into Nokia. Seems fishy, given the CEO of Nokia is a former MS mobile software guy. Feels like he’s got allegiances to too many at once. If I were a Nokia shareholder, I would demand a second look at Android OS for Mobile solutions.»
Greg Poulos

«I think it could be a great combination. Hopefully it will allow Nokia to concentrate on stellar hardware, something I always liked them for. I use a Blackberry these days, but used to always choose Nokia. It eventually got to a stage where Nokias best phones were it’s cheaper, less feature rich offerings. They were just more “classic Nokia” than their top end smart phones.»
Daniel Harris

«To make the most of the alliance there is a huge amount of work ahead for both parties. Nokia has been doing Smartphones for years – there are many phones out there. Perhaps not for every phone, but imagine if Microsoft adapted its phone software so it could be installed remotely on existing Nokia phones worldwide AS A FREE UPGRADE. Market share for Microsoft would increase measurably every month. Nokia owners would enjoy the new life breathed into their phones. I, for one, would be using my Blackberry less and I’d delay investing in a new phone/tablet until next year. Over the years I’ve had a series of trusty Nokias – they always feel good and have never let me down. If I see Nokia moving in the right direction I’d be happy to stay with them.»
Fred Clausen

«Competition is a great thing in any shape or form. Nokia had been so far behind in terms of software that this alliance is very likely to rejuvenate the company and put some pressure on Android and iOS camps. It’s all for the better🙂.»
Pavel Gorenitsyn

«I think it could provide very useful for both Microsoft and Nokia with an excellent platform… Windows Mobile 7 is a great OS and Nokia make great hardware… so if they end up with a new ‘N95 device, it will help both parties.»
Neil Hobbs

Would you buy such a Nokia Windows Phone 7 handset? Do you even like the idea of a Nokia Smartphone that runs software not made by Nokia? Your opinions are welcome!

Best Regards,
Kristina Kozlova
Altabel Group

The HP TouchPad has been announced recently. From what I’ve heard of the TouchPad so far it looks like it may be quite a worthy rival for the iPad – if its release isn’t too late.

It looks especially interesting because it’s the first iPad rival that brings some fresh ideas in terms of operating system, interface, and user experience. Like the Palm Pre it will run webOS, which should lend itself very well to running a tablet device.

I’d like to quote some LI members’ opinions on this point.

«Having played around with lots of different tablet products over the years, the iPad is the only one that I would consider having a successful user experience. I heard (and read) lots of people who criticized the iPad for not having a camera, or business apps, or HD capability, or some other feature, but not many focus on why it is successful where previous tablets have failed. The answer is this: the iPad is designed for minimal input. It is a media consumption device, period.
Previous tablet PCs had a desktop OS shoehorned into a tablet form factor. Those failed because the desktop pc is designed for high input. Apple’s success with iOS, in my mind, comes from their design decision to minimize input and maximize output. It’s why iPhone was such a game changer, and why the iPad succeeds where other tablets fail.
I think that as long as competing tablets recognize the wisdom of Apple’s design approach to the tablet (minimize input, maximize output) and design their tablets for media consumption and not as pc/notebook replacements, they’ll be able to compete.»
Joe Cardella

«The HP TouchPad is still vaporware at this point and still not slated to come out until the summer. Apple is slated to release the iPad 2 model by then, so the TouchPad may well end up being released on a DOA basis competing against features that leapfrog those of the TouchPad.
In the meantime, the iPad has obviously developed serious critical mass with the consumer world, and is making big in-roads into the enterprise world. One other big factor is the applications available for running on the devices. Apps = functionality, and in that regards, given the big lead Apple has in that arena, any other players will just end up playing catch-up. As the iPod captured the MP3 players market, the iPad has captured the tablet market. And as much as all of the iPod “killers” that were released threatened to eat into the iPod market, none could compete against the critical mass and lead that Apple built up. The same cycle will perpetuate itself in the tablet world with the iPad 2 and beyond. So in short, too little, too late and the TouchPad won’t end up rivaling the iPad.»
Bill Chen
Senior I.T. Manager

«There is an argument that the only people that are attracted by iPhone / iPad are those that like shiny toys rather than serious products! The reality is that people are going to have an increasing choice of products to do their computing on – what is used now is very unlikely to be around in say 10 years time (possibly not even 5 years). Everyone is getting in on the act, and you will have many other options very soon.»
Anthony Sutcliffe
ICT Manager

So … the TouchPad sounds promising, but that release timeframe takes a lot of the shine off. The device looks good, particularly as a rival for the current iPad. We know there’s going to be an iPad 2 coming along within the next couple of months though. If the TouchPad comes out after the iPad second gen that’s going to make it a whole lot tougher for it to compare and compete well with the iPad.

What do you all think of the TouchPad? Will this tempt you away from an iPad?

Best Regards,
Kristina Kozlova
Altabel Group

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