Archive for April, 2010

Optimism Returns to Software Sector

April 30th, 2010

loud computing, corporate upgrade cycles and general optimism about the overall economy will drive increased sales, profits and employment in the software industry this year, according to a survey released this week by venture capital firm Sand Hill Group.

The survey, which queried more than 100 CEOs and CIOs at a variety of enterprise software companies across multiple sectors, found that 44 percent of respondents expect overall software sales to increase between 5 percent and 9 percent in total dollars this year, while another 23 percent are projecting a jump of between 10 percent and 14 percent.

Cloud computing, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and enterprise-wide upgrades of PCs, mobile devices and applications, most notably Windows 7-driven projects, will usher in a new wave of spending as the IT industry pulls itself out of a three-year decline.

“During the economic slowdown there were a lot of improvement projects that were put off and now there are a lot of outdated or inefficient solutions in enterprises,” one software CEO said in the survey. “Cleaning up those projects to improve efficiencies will be a priority now that there is some level of recovery happening.”

Forty-two percent of software executives said their companies’ business has already returned to pre-recession levels, with another 7 percent projecting a return to those levels by the middle of the year. Another 22 percent expect to be in that position by the close of 2010 and 20 percent said their sales and profits will be back to normal at some point in 2011.

The survey results dovetail with projections made earlier this year by independent IT industry research firms and corroborated by mostly stellar earnings reports from tech leaders in the first quarter of this year.

Software executives said that because the buying decision makers at many companies are tending to skew younger and thus more comfortable with off-site software and service providers, cloud and SaaS applications will continue to drive growth through the rest of 2010.

IDC earlier this year predicted that cloud-based IT spending will almost triple in the next three years, surging from roughly $17 billion in 2009 to more than $45 billion in 2013.

“[Executives] believe the cloud, SaaS and on-demand models will dominate software spending decisions in the coming year,” the report said. “At the same time, these models are causing dramatic changes to software firms’ pricing models, sales approach and other operational aspects.”

This improved outlook and appreciation for new software delivery models and revenue streams will also spark a much-needed increase in new hires, executives said.

Sixty-eight percent of those surveyed said they expect to increase their headcount “slightly” during 2010, while another 23 percent said they were poised for a “significant increase” in new employees. Seven percent said their workforce will likely remain unchanged from 2009 levels, while only 1 percent expect to “significantly decrease” staff.

Finally, 25 percent said they expect net profits to improve between 5 percent and 9 percent this year, and another 21 percent project earnings to surge between 10 percent and 19 percent. A full 20 percent anticipate that profits will surge at least 20 percent this year and 15 percent are looking for at least a 1 percent to 5 percent boost to their bottom lines.

“I think that enterprise software firms will shift focus over the next 12 months to smaller, more repeatable deals instead of the large deals with high price tags,” one executive said. “Smaller, repeatable deals are where more of the recovery will be happening.”

The survey, which was sponsored by the online accounting service Intacct, solicited comments and forecasts from executives from a variety of software sectors including applications, infrastructure and industry-specific applications providers, with the majority of respondents (67 percent) representing companies with 99 or fewer employees.


To define software engineering method, theory

April 30th, 2010

The year was 1905. An unknown (but not for long) patent clerk named Albert Einstein wrote a series of papers, including the particle theory of light and his famed theory of relativity, that marked a revolution in physics. His work challenged the beliefs of scientists of that era, and a period of debate and argument ensued as physics theory was turned upside-down.

So in 1911, Belgian industrialist Ernest Solvay established in Brussels the first world physics conference, with the goal of defining the core tenets of theoretical physics that could be universally taught and used.

Today, a handful of notables in the software engineering arena are working toward the same goal: unambiguously defining the universals that underlie all development methodologies.

The effort, called Software Engineering Method and Theory (SEMAT), is being spearheaded by Richard Soley, chairman of the consortium Object Management Group; Ivar Jacobson, co-creator of UML and the Rational Unified Process, among other work; and Bertrand Meyer, who created the Eiffel programming language and is an acknowledged expert in object-oriented programming and language theory.

Soley explained that software engineering is gravely hampered by immature practices. “When technology is new, it’s the wild wild West. When it gets to be 50 or 60 years old, an engineering discipline evolves,” he said. To be a true discipline, it must have wide awareness, be supported in the industry and taught in the universities.

One of the challenges the SEMAT group hopes to overcome is simply getting everyone into the same room. It’s a challenge Soley faces at OMG. “We bring together vendors and practitioners, but not enough academics,” he lamented. “To put together a core theory and best practices, you need to see it from a standards perspective, an industrial perspective, a vendor perspective and an academic perspective.”

Soley pointed out that the SEMAT effort is not about a product, standard or curriculum. “It’s just a group of people trying to come up with a core set [of] kernel universal practices that can be used to describe a methodology.”


Opera acquires

April 30th, 2010

Opera Software, known for their Opera desktop and Opera Mini mobile browser, has announced the acquisition of email provider was first founded 10 years ago and provides secure email services via WebMail, IMAP, POP and SMTP. Details of the transaction were not disclosed.’s reasons for selling were detailed in the company’s blog and included a need for additional investment in the company to expand. Opera also brings to the table a browser customer base of over 100 million users, including 50 million desktop and 55 million mobile, which the email service will be able to leverage to expand the number of subscribers to its service. The goal behind the acquisition was made clear in a quote by Rolf Assev, Chief Strategy Officer for Opera, who said:

The newest generation of Web users will discover the Web through a mobile device. Having world-class messaging capability alongside a rich and compelling Web experience is essential. By combining forces, Opera and can offer messaging on any device. This will enhance the value Opera provides to consumers, while assisting our operator partners in reducing customer churn.

In the same way Opera has succeeded in putting a browser on nearly every device it looks like the next frontier will be to do the same for messaging. Having the intellectual property as well as the expertise of’s staff will help Opera in that endeavor.


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