Coming Soon: The Integrated Cloud

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InfoWorld ran an interesting product profile this week on ZoHo. Apparently, the company plans to move beyond your mere "best of breed" SaaS offering. Instead, it'll offer a desktop productivity suite integrated with a set of back-end business applications.


Among the applications ZoHo will offer -- a Web conferencing tool, a project management tool, a database and reporting tool, CRM and an HR system. And, of course, the productivity suite includes the standards: word processor, spreadsheet, presentation tools.


Holy IT as Utility, Batman! Could Nicholas Carr be right?!? Could this be the end of our Dynamic IT Dudes?


Somehow, I doubt it, but you never know. Certainly, it looks like a good solution for small businesses, particularly since it basically pre-integrates everything for you.


Salesforce.com has already tried to buy ZoHo, which so far isn't selling. The article notes that Microsoft is "moving in the same direction, though more slowly," with its Live platform and online Office documents. I would say "slowly" is something of an understatement, since Office still isn't offered as a hosted solution -- unless your standard of movement is a pre-global warming ice sheets.


In other integration news:


Data Integration Toolset for Sharepoint Server 2007. If you're using or moving to Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, you might want to investigate a new offering from CorasWorks Corp. The company's Data Integration Toolset will help architects and developers build applications that integrate from SharePoint Server 2007, the Business Data Catalog, database systems, enterprise applications and the Web.


The press release says it can access data from or write to SQL Server, Oracle, remote SharePoint Server 2007 and 2003, Salesforce.com, Google, IBM WebSphere, ADO data sources, any web service-enabled application, or any XML stream such as RSS feeds.


An online demo is available, if you're willing to provide contact information. CorasWorks also offers a small business edition, although the site doesn't explain how it differs from the enterprise edition.


Free Online Real-Time Data Integration Seminar. Forrester Research analyst Rob Karel -- whom I recently interviewed about Master Data Management -- will be the guest speaker during a free Web seminar, "When the Business Demands Fresher Data for BI: A Look at Solution Architectures." It'll focus on solutions and trends in architectures commonly used for real-time data integration. The event, sponsored by GoldenGate Software, is scheduled for Wednesday, March 26, at 1 p.m., ET, or 10 a.m. PT.


Collaborating on Information Integration Projects. IBM recently expanded its Information Server software platform to help you automate and collaborate on information integration projects. Basically, there's a new module called the IBM Information Server FastTrack, which is designed to help capture business requirements by allowing analyst, data modelers and developers collaborate.


It works with Microsoft Excel -- always a good idea, given that Exel is the tool of choice for all things in most companies. Once you've added the business requirements, it translates that "directly into integration code" so your IBM Information server data integration engine can use it. In beta tests, customers said it reduced project development times by up to an estimated 40 percent. Or, at least, so says the press release.


AJAX Group Focuses on Secure Mashups and Mobile Apps Integration. The OpenAjax Alliance is a group of vendors, users and developers dedicated to using AJAX in open projects. The group this week announced it will tackle two new tasks: Securing mashups and enterprise integration of mobile-appliance applications. By mobile-appliance applications, they apparently mean your address book, messaging services and other cell phone tools. The goal is to help make mobile consumer devices more useful by providing integration with enterprise technology. Good news for those of us too cheap to buy a Blackberry. ADT Magazine has the details and links to draft specifications for another initiative, OpenAjax Metadata.


XAware Plug-in for Salesforce.com. It seems like everybody wants to integrate with Salesforce.com these days. The latest plug-in announcement came this week from XAware Inc., which is offering its open source plug-in on Salesforce.com's AppExchnge. DM Review reports the XAware plug-in allows users to manage, share, migrate, mashup and just generally use data from various systems. It's Eclipse-based. With Salesforce.com users will be able to access Xaware's open source data integration product for creating and managing composite data services for service-oriented architecture (SOA) and Web 2.0 applications.