OpenSocial - a first enterprise take

Summary:While the OpenSocial press conference was ongoing, Irregulars Mike Krigsman, Susan Scrupski and I used Twitter to pepper Robert Scoble with questions. Listening to David Berlind's podcast recording of proceedings, the event seemed badly organized with no attempt to manage inbound callers.

While the OpenSocial press conference was ongoing, Irregulars Mike Krigsman, Susan Scrupski and I used Twitter to pepper Robert Scoble with questions. Listening to David Berlind's podcast recording of proceedings, the event seemed badly organized with no attempt to manage inbound callers. Many questions were left hanging in the wind. This is what we kinda know:

  • If we are to believe what was said, there are about a dozen 'container' vendors. These are vendors like Oracle and MySpace that acts as the container for social applications. In the long term, that could include personal blogs. There are many more apps developers who've been brought on board. The total named partners comes out at 20 if you include Newsgator that is not included on the list Marc Canter rolled out.
  • The partners account for something like 200 million users of various kinds of application, some of which are more 'social' than others. In the enterprise space these include Oracle, Newsgator and Salesforce.com
  • We can also discern that Facebook was probably excluded from the general call to arms although I have to agree with Mike Arrington that the answers given by various executives were less than consistent.
  • We also know that Facebook denies any approach.

What we don't know:

  • There was no specific timeframe for applications delivery. This will be left up to the participants. Enterprise won't put up with that. It wants roadmaps, direction and timelines. Where are they?
  • How will Orkut fare in all of this? Dan Farber says the sandbox has been opened but the platform only plays in a handful of territories, albeit it does extremely well in emerging nations like Brazil.
  • The question of identity management was fluffed. I could get no more sense than David Berlind on this central issue. OpenID anyone? No enterprise is going to allow applications onto their networks that don't have clear, unequivocal and auditable ID management policies. This is now an issue the Mercury News says privacy activists have pounced upon. How does it get resolved?
  • Monetization is far from clear. AdSense is the stated model and revenue sharing between Google and the partners is the way it's being spun. That opens up all sorts of questions about who owns what and where. Earlier today, I spoke with Jeff Nolan and he said that Newsgator has found little appetite for ad powered apps among enterprise customers. I'm not surprised. Enterprise has enough on its plate trying to populate screen real estate without confusing the issue. What's the alternative?
  • OpenSocial powered app development can proceed at any pace it likes in the consumer world and be as chaotic as the developers choose. Not in enterprise land. I got no sense of management from Google. It has no experience of managing large numbers of development partners in an enterprise context. Heck, they've never really finished an application yet. How therefore are they going to keep the likes of Oracle in line?

OpenSocial is the first real attempt at bringing the IT industry as a whole around to the notion of open APIs at the application level and so creating a level playing field. David Berlind has already described some possible outcome scenarios. But what does this mean for the proprietary world of enterprise applications? This is surely going to be a hot debating point among the Irregulars in the weeks to come.

ENDNOTE: It was an interesting experiment in using a bunch of technologies in real time. Juggling feed readers (NetNewsWire beat Google Reader for speed hands down), Twitter, Skype and email all in real time was an exercise in agility that caused a few of my Twitter colleagues a mild amount of angst. Andy? I'm sorry for being such a chatterbox. For anyone interested, I recorded a quick and dirty Kyte.tv take on Scoble's channel. It was the least I could do after peppering him for several hours. ;)

Topics: Security, Banking, Social Enterprise

About

Dennis Howlett has been providing comment and analysis on enterprise software since 1991 in a variety of European trade and professional journals including CFO Magazine, The Economist and Information Week. Today, apart from being a full time blogger on innovation for professional services organisations, he is a founding member of Enterpri... Full Bio

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