In what I hope will be a regularly recurring podcast here on ZDNet, we've launched our first "MonkCast." On a periodic basis (weekly is the goal), I'll be interviewing James Governor, principal analyst and co-founder of the research outfit Redmonk (see his blog) and his fellow researchers at Redmonk (Michael Coté and Stephen O'Grady). James and his compadrés are an unusual bunch in that they're as blunt about their clients in public as they are with their clients behind closed doors. Whereas that sort of behavior would land most researchers in the unemployment line, the reason Redmonk gets away with it, if you ask me, is because they're invariably on the money with their insights. Vendors can't muzzle the public opinions of James, Stephen, or Coté by paying them. Instead, what vendors probably get is better insight into why the three are making the conclusions they're making.
In this week's Monkcast (RSS feed here, click play above or learn how to get it on your PC or MP3 player automatically), James discusses a service that SAP previewed at its recent Sapphire conference in Vienna. The preview, which was more like a tiny sneak peak, hints at the direction that SAP is taking as it appears to be deconstructing its A1 solution into a series of components that will be offered multi-tenant sytle to businesses who don't want the entire A1 enchilada, or who don't want to run it themselves. Think of it as the Salesforce.com of the ERP business. At issue for SAP is how it will manage a balance between A1 and the new offering; A1S (the "S" must be for service). Like many software companies facing the SaaS transition (Microsoft being another), SAP has challenges ahead as it must move A1S into the market without cannibalizing its lucrative A1 business.
James and I talk about the realities of such transitions and what if any role open source plays. After all, Sun has managed to transition a huge chunk of its software portfolio into the open source world and much the way EMI Music Worldwide is the first major record label to offer DRM-free music, Sun (finally in the black) must prove that taking the wraps off its intellectual property is actually good for business. If that turns out to be the case, most other software companies may have to follow (same for the record companies). So far, it has taken Sun about three years to get to the point it's at in the big transition. If other companies follow and it takes as long, could that lead to an advantage for Sun as a company that's ready to get on with it? Listen to the podcast.