Applications

Salesforce.com dominated the CRM space while the enterprise service bus race sped up

We test more hosted CRM solutions every year, and none of them has yet topped Salesforce.com. Still, the competition is stiffening, especially from the likes of one-stop-shop NetSuite and Siebel CRM OnDemand. In collaboration, Linux-based groupware kept the heat on Microsoft Exchange and company. And in middleware, the enterprise service bus emerged as a true product category; our July roundup revealed Sonic Software to be in the driver’s seat and Cape Clear and Iona in good position to close the distance. The race for services-based integration and process orchestration has just begun.

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APPLICATION MANAGEMENT

Indicative Service Director and SLA Manager 6.5

Indicative Software

Very Good, 8.6

Bottom Line: Indicative’s enterprise performance management solution is full-featured and powerful, as well as easy to set up and use. Indicative is particularly strong at linking real-time performance measures with SLAs.

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Segue SilkCentral Performance Manager 2.7

Segue Software

Very Good, 8.3

Bottom Line: Segue’s performance manager does preproduction testing and monitors a wide variety of enterprise infrastructure and production systems in real time. It’s strong on diagnostics but weaker on ease of setup and use.

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Wily Introscope 5.3.1

Wily Technology

Very Good, 8.3

Bottom Line: Introscope helps you find bottlenecks in your app by providing agents that wire up all Java classes to report information to a central app. It has a great collection of agents for most common Web apps, and you can build custom dashboards to graph this data and understand what went wrong.

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Zend Platform 1.1

Zend Technologies

Very Good, 8.3

Bottom Line: Zend Platform is a well-designed package that helps manage a PHP installation by flagging and debugging problem pages. It can accelerate the server using selective compilation and caching. Deeper diagnostics and more run-time profiling would be nice.

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COLLABORATION

Brightidea.com

Brightidea

Very Good, 8.6

Bottom Line: This hosted service’s seven modules greatly accelerate the adoption of new ideas. Users can submit ideas easily, and managers can rapidly identify and track promising innovations. Brightidea.com will also analyze implementation costs and expected savings.

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Gordano Messaging Server 10.05

Gordano Software

Good, 7.6

Bottom Line: GMS proved a robust messaging solution despite providing only one distinguishing feature: real-time migration. A stumble with our initial version gave us pause, but this excellent late-beta replacement demonstrated some impressive performance stats and changed our mind.

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JabberNow 1.0.0.38

Jabber

Very Good, 8.4

Bottom Line: JabberNow -- a compact device targeted at small workgroups, government agencies, and small financial companies -- gives users fast setup and standards-based secure IM. This plug-and-play solution also provides multiple-user text conferencing and no-hassle administration.

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Macromedia Breeze Meeting Central 5

Macromedia

Excellent, 8.7

Bottom Line: With Flash-based Breeze 5, users can collaborate through Web meetings, manage large events, deliver on-demand PowerPoint presentations with audio, and build online training systems. Its simple UI makes for easy participation, plus it has broad customization options and works on numerous platforms.

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Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 Enterprise Edition

Microsoft

Good, 7.3

Bottom Line: For IT admins set in their Windows ways, Exchange remains an attractive option -- except for its price tag. Redmond continues to add features that outstrip those offered by its Penguin rivals, although many are aimed at the enterprise rather than midsize business.

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Microsoft Office Live Meeting 2005

Microsoft

Very Good, 8.5

Bottom Line: Not only does this Microsoft-centric Web conferencing service allow small teams to work together and organizations to provide training, it also scales easily to handle large online events. New features simplify scheduling, and integrated VoIP audio broadcasting and expanded localized versions are a boon.

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NextPage 1.5

NextPage

Very Good, 8.4

Bottom Line: The NextPage 1.5 service turns Office and e-mail into workflow tools for natural document management. Setup is easy, and it works as well across corporate boundaries as it does inside an organization.

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Novell Suse Linux Openexchange 4.1

Novell

Good, 7.6

Bottom Line: SLOX is an easy-to-install, easy-to-maintain messaging server based on Postfix. It’s also backed by an industry powerhouse, although for how long is difficult to tell. Administration is straightforward, and admins familiar with Postfix will certainly find SLOX attractive.

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Open Text Livelink Touchpoint 1.0

OpenText

Beta

Bottom Line: Livelink Touchpoint’s single UI allows users to IM colleagues, bring them into a Web meeting, share documents and whiteboard ideas, and then create a team work space, all without switching apps. Users can’t simultaneously edit documents, though. The system provides expanded presence awareness that allows teammates to know what others are viewing.

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Scalix 9.0.1

Scalix

Good, 7.3

Bottom Line: Scalix is a mature messaging platform with a solid management and Webmail interface. We stumbled during migration and could have used a break from the command line. It lacks the advanced features that larger competitors provide, but Scalix easily delivered the functionality required for our test.

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Stalker Software CommuniGate Pro 4.2

Stalker Software

Good, 7.4

Bottom Line: CommuniGate Pro is a highly mature messaging platform with a good Web-based admin interface and all the messaging features Exchange users have come to expect. The company also provides software for anti-virus, anti-spam, and IM, and will soon add VoIP support.

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WebEx Meeting Center 7

WebEx Communications

Excellent, 8.8

Bottom Line: WebEx’s streamlined interface provides an excellent Web meeting experience. Beyond professional, multimedia presentations, the improved MediaTone backbone network offers toll-free audioconferencing in 30 countries. MediaTone APIs integrate WebEx apps into CRM, call center, and e-learning systems.

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WebEx One

WebEx Communications

Preview

Bottom Line: For workgroups requiring instant collaboration and real-time meetings, it will be hard to beat the pricing and integrated offerings of WebEx One, which combines deep asynchronous capabilities, such as shared databases, documents, and discussions; truly seamless integration with WebEx; and powerful, easy-to-use MeetMeNow IM service.

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Zimbra Collaboration Suite

Zimbra

Preview

Bottom Line: A tightly integrated open source collaboration server, Zimbra recognizes names, e-mail addresses, phone numbers, and date references in message bodies, providing shortcuts to creating contacts and appointments as well as powerful search capabilities. All of this is handled through a sophisticated, drag-and-drop, no-refresh-necessary AJAX interface.

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CRM

NetSuite 10

NetSuite

Very Good:, 8.1

Bottom Line: Integrated ERP functionality makes NetSuite 10 a one-stop package for SMBs. Good dashboard delivery enhances productivity, and Upsell Manager helps boost sales. But watch your monthly bill: Service thresholds and per-module pricing escalate the cost.

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RightNow CRM 7.0

RightNow Technologies

Good, 7.0

Bottom Line: RightNow’s new SFA addition is a good start, although it suffers from limited extensibility. Overall, good workflow and marketing campaign tools plus superb support features, such as self-service and integrated chat, add up to a strong showing.

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Salesforce.com Winter '05 Enterprise Edition

Salesforce.com

Excellent, 8.7

Bottom Line: Without a doubt, Salesforce.com remains the undisputed champ of hosted CRM. Flexible forecasting and tools for lead conversion, good workflow and contact tools, plus unparalleled extensibility make Salesforce.com easy to recommend.

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Salesnet Extended Edition

Salesnet

Good, 7.2

Bottom Line: Without a doubt, Salesforce.com remains the undisputed champ of hosted CRM. Flexible forecasting and tools for lead conversion, good workflow and contact tools, plus unparalleled extensibility make Salesforce.com easy to recommend.

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Siebel CRM OnDemand Release 8

Siebel Systems

Very Good, 8.0

Bottom Line: Showing a lot of potential, Siebel CRM OnDemand Release 8 provides an affordable CRM entry point without the infrastructure woes of in-house deployment. Some features remain stuck in the road map, but existing tools lend a professional edge.

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SugarCRM Sugar Cube and Sugar Suite Professional 2.5

SugarCRM

Fair, 6.9

Bottom Line: As a comprehensive CRM solution, Sugar Cube and Sugar Suite are still green. However, good sales-force tools and extremely easy deployment show their potential as a solid in-house, on-demand CRM solution for companies with limited needs or looking to customize.

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INTEGRATION AND WEB SERVICES

Adobe LiveCycle 7.0

Adobe Systems

Preview

Bottom Line: LiveCycle 7.0 promises not only to streamline PDF-based workflows but also to extend document-centric processes to back-end systems and to users and systems outside the firewall. More than 50 prebuilt QPACs ease process assembly and integration with directory servers, e-mail, FTP, Web services, databases, message queues, and other systems.

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Cape Clear 6.1

Cape Clear Software

Good, 7.6

Bottom Line: Cape Clear is an established player in the Web services platform space, and its standards-based ESB shows it. Good XML processing, a good toolset, and solid orchestration make this Java-centric and cost-effective vendor a must-see. Future inclusion of JBoss JMS will help address enterprise messaging requirements.

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Cordys 4.2

Cordys

Fair, 6.5

Bottom Line: Although Cordys requires a number of third-party components to bring it up to enterprise grade, the core stack for this relative newcomer hits some high points. An XML object cache, good graphical tools, decent BI, and a useful collaborative portal layer may be a sign of more good things to come.

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FioranoESB Suite 3.7

Fiorano Software

Fair, 6.8

Bottom Line: Incorporating FioranoMQ as the messaging backbone, this ESB delivers an effective if proprietary blend of hub-and-spoke integration and support for distributed Web services. Fiorano would do well to add full support for BPEL and WS-* specs, as well as support for additional transports.

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FusionWare Integration Server 3.0

FusionWare

Poor, 5.3

Bottom Line: FusionWare Integration Server offers a process-thread licensing model that could be cost-advantageous to smaller shops. Its centralized approach to integration, admin shortcomings, limited analytics, and absence of enterprise adapters confirm that small shops are FusionWare’s best target.

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Iona Artix 3.0 Advanced

Iona Technologies

Good, 7.6

Bottom Line: Artix is one of your best last chances for legacy integration before busting the budget on a monolithic integration suite from a big vendor. It’s missing process orchestration, but transaction support is top-notch. If your goal is to modernize Cobol, CICS, IMS, or IDL-based applications, you’d do well to look here.

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Oracle CoreSV 4.0

Oracle

Very Good, 8.2

Bottom Line: CoreSV provides a no-nonsense system for managing Web services. The platform is conceptually straightforward and easy to install and use. Its policy pipelines provide an easy way to create and apply consistent policies to all the Web services in your organization.

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PolarLake Integration Suite 4.0

PolarLake

Fair, 6.8

Bottom Line: PolarLake’s recent addition of BPEL-based orchestration and content-based routing make it a meaningful contender in the ESB space. The suite also offers good process simulation, SNMP management integration, enterprise app adapters, and basic QoS. Tools, BPEL support, and activity monitoring are limitations.

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Sonic SOA Suite 6.1

Sonic Software

Very Good, 8.3

Bottom Line: Sonic’s SOA Suite is complete, flexible, and powerful, delivering an out-of-the-box experience superior to the competition. Its reliance on proprietary middleware proves more costly, but with expense comes reliability that can’t be overlooked for high-volume transaction scenarios. Sonic, however, must simplify coding requirements.

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Systinet Registry 6.0

Systinet

Very Good, 8.1

Bottom Line: Systinet Registry 6.0 provides a solid platform for building SOA governance and establishing a system of record for enterprise Web services. Registry 6.0 will provide ROI to organizations looking to manage a diverse set of Web services across different groups and versions -- but it’s pricey, especially for smaller businesses.

Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.