JackBe Acquired: Congrats to the team!

logo_sagJackBeToday is a pivotal moment in the life of JackBe and Presto, the platform we built at JackBe.  JackBe has been acquired by SoftwareAG!

Over the last 7+ years, I have obsessed about Presto, the pain points we tried to address with our product/technology, and the things we built to create this one-of-a-kind platform. I am proud have assembled the best engineering team in the world, and put together a process and culture of innovation, development, high quality delivery and repeatability that ensured release after release with new innovative features for the past 7 years. At the same time, we also successfully maintained a balanced and open environment of respect, team work, accountability and responsibility. For a team of this calibre to stay together for 7 years itself is major accomplishment. It goes to show how much we believed in what we were doing and a lot of credit for this goes to the kind of people we have on the team!

So let me take one last moment to recollect our accomplishments leading to this moment:

So, in conclusion, this is a fantastic achievement by the team, and a great testament to the innovation and value embodied by the product and the team we have built together. Congratulations to the entire team are in order! May you go forth and prosper!

On a personal note, this brings me to a new chapter in my career. I will not be joining the acquisition party! I would like to explore other things in my career and life. I have learnt a lot professionally and personally at JackBe, and am grateful for all the experiences that has shaped me over these years, and the people that I have met in the process. Many are now very close friends and I will cherish that friendship forever.

For those that know me know that I enjoy building and working with a great team, enjoy the challenge of innovating to disrupt the status quo, and truly value the friendship, camaraderie, learning, sharing, helping, and building something new that the world hasn’t see before. I will look forward to doing just that!

Tablets : Pay Attention to this growing trend in Business computing

iPad Charts using Presto
iPad Charts using Presto

Tablets are increasingly becoming / going to become a standard weapon in the arms of biz people for real-time information. We at JackBe have a good emerging story in Presto for those who want to develop and deploy Mobile Enterprise Apps, especially for tablet based computing. Presto 3.1 has several capabilities that they can get started with today to build and deploy mobile apps within their enterprises securely.

Tablets are here to stay whether they are iPads or Androids, and it really gives an agile and mobile tool in the hands of business people who need information at their fingertips to make their daily decision making process effective and timely. We at JackBe will continue to enhance and enrich Presto for such mobile computing needs by delivering Real-Time Intelligence Apps in the Enterprise.

How do you define an ‘Enterprise App Store’?

[Cross-posted from my JackBe blog.]

Lately everyone here at JackBe have been very focused on the latest edition of Presto and all it’s cool App and App Store features. We’ve hosted lots of webcasts, given tons of demos, briefed a lot of the media. And while I admit a certain bias, I think Presto 3.0 with its emphasis on user-driven Enterprise Apps and a user-centric Enterprise App Store has been well received.

But Apoorv Durga, the Portal and Web Content Analyst at CMS Watch, recently wrote ‘JackBe’s App Store is interesting but not new‘. He’s not wrong, exactly, but I think he’s missed the point. He emphasizes that ‘App Stores’ can deliver great ‘time to market’ through reusability and ease-of-use (I agree!) but then quickly condemns most past/present products on these qualities. And that’s where I think Presto 3.0 really is different.

In my last post I talked about how Presto 3.0 provides all the necessary tools and infrastructure to create Enterprise Apps and Mashups. We made every step of the ‘Enterprise App Lifecyle’ easier, from the beginning (secure registration of Mashable information sources), to the middle (easy and secure creation of Mashups), to the end (creation of Enterprise Apps from your Mashups/Mashables. And what I promised at the end of that post was more gory detail on what happens AFTER the Apps are made. In other words, the Enterprise App Store.

I’ve decided to define an Enterprise App Store for you by example. Where do Apps go after they are made? How do users use them? How do user shares them? I’d like to give you a guided tour of the Presto 3.0 Enterprise App Store and ultimately I hope you’ll agree that the Presto App Store is like the Portal ‘App Stores’ (in Apoorv’s article) as much as my car is like my kid’s bicycle: similar in intent, fundamentally different in design and implementation.

Submitting Apps: Apps get into the Presto 3.0 Enterprise App Store very simply. Apps are created by power users or developers and then submitted to the App Store Manager for publishing to the Store. Anyone who has permissions to create an App can submit it, but only the App Store Manager (there can be 1 or more persons in this role) is authorized to allow an App into the App Store.

This is a very important step in the App lifecycle, I believe. As one banking enterprise architect put it, the Store Manager ‘keeps your App Store clean and safe’. Your enterprise can set the guidelines and standards that App creators and submitters must follow to successfully publish an App to your enterprise App Store. If the App Store Manager decides an App is not ready, for whatever reason, they can send the App back to the creator with comments for further development or modification. Once these issues have been successfully addressed, App creators can resubmit their Apps for consideration to be published to the App Store.

Using Apps: What can you do with Apps in the App Store? Once you find an interesting App, if you have the right permissions, you can instantly use it. You can work with any number of Apps simultaneously at any time. Every App you open is shown in the ‘Open Apps’ gallery, and we maintain the state of all open Apps so that you can multitask and switch back and forth between Apps without losing your data. Once you are done using an App, you can close it.

Making Apps Personal: If you like an App and anticipate using it frequently, you can add it to the ‘My Apps’ gallery in the App Store. My Apps lets you add your own twist to the App: customize the App with you own settings (login information, colors, search parameters, etc.) for your very own personalized App. A single App can become dozens of customized Apps for region, data ranges, subjects or whatever parameter(s) you want to personalize.

Sharing Apps: What about sharing? You can easily share an App with other users in the App Store. You can also share with others outside the App Store via email or instant messaging. You can also rate, tag and send comments to the App creator.

Embedding Apps in other sites: You can put your App in other webpages. You get the embed code for an App and stick it into your iGoogle page or your Wiki or web page or even your portal server. You can also publish Apps from the App Store to your Microsoft SharePoint instance as native Web Parts. The point is, you can deliver the App to where the users work and need it – in their wiki, portal, web page, SharePoint, etc. on their desktop, mobile phones, iPads, etc.

Making the Apps secure: All the Apps published in the App Store are secured by authentication and authorization policies configured in Presto by your security expert. Every App can be configured to provide universal access or, if configured, to require the user to authenticate themselves. This can help provide Apps with contextual data or capabilities, if needed. Furthermore, all the data sources consumed by the Apps are protected via Presto security for authentication and authorization. Sharing is secure as well, rest assured. Even if you share an App with me, unless I have the correct permissions, I won’t be allowed to actually use the App.

So, do I think this is a typical App Store? Not in the slightest. The Apps aren’t made, shared, or used by IT with the business people in mind. The business people are the makers, the sharers, and the users. This empowering model is one I’ve rarely seen formalized in the way Presto does. And that’s the part I think Apoorv missed in his post. I am sure that once he gets his hands on Presto, he will surely come to notice all these differences that make our App Store a whole lot different than just a portal server or a gadget server trying to be an App Store.

However, I do agree with Apoorv that, by adopting an Enterprise App Store, you enhance your organization’s time to market. What’s different here is that you can harness and unleash the power of your end users with domain knowledge and let them solve their business needs with self-made or self-discovered Enterprise Apps. And your Enterprise App Store can be the last mile to get the data and new functionality to your users when they need it, where they need it, and how they need it!

Introducing Presto 3.0: Freedom & Power for the User

[Cross-posted from my JackBe blog]

You might have heard that version 3.0 of Presto, our award-winning enterprise mashup platform, was announced just last week. The driving design premise of this release of Presto was simple but challenging: Organizations want to harvest and unleash the creativity of their ‘business developers’ and enhance the effectiveness and productivity of their end user communities. This is what you, our customers, partners and community members, told us.

With that in mind we focused on bringing enterprise data ‘out of hiding’, so to speak, by putting it in the hands of the users, while still adhering to enterprise IT architecture standards for security, governance, portability, and integration. I am happy and excited that most of the new features and enhancements that made their way into Presto 3.0 emphasize and support this goal.

Now that the product is launched, I thought some of you would appreciate a recap of some of the most important innovations in Presto 3.0. Here’s my list of the biggest and the best. I’ll leave it up to you to decide how we responded to your needs…

Tripling your power: You wanted more powerful capabilities in Wires, our visual drag-and-drop mashup maker. We enhanced our current blocks, and are introducing several new power packed blocks for easier mashing and leveraging the underlying features of the mashup platform. We went from 7 blocks in Presto 2.7 to around 25 blocks in our new version of Wires! New blocks include: Loop, Document, Select, Group, Document, CSV Generator, Data Decorator, Transformer, Mapper, Average, Counter, and more.

Making you richer: You wanted rich visual views on your Mashups. So we reengineered our product to provide lots of rich visualizations out of the box, and let you apply to them your mashups to create ‘Apps’ (we used to call these ‘Mashlets’). The result is a wizard-driven ‘App Maker’ with lots of rich viewing options that can be configured with no coding. And more of these visualizations will be added in the near future.

Helping you connect the dots: You wanted easier way to create collections of related Apps and even quickly wire Apps together to create a sophisticated integrated multi-App workspace. We are introducing Mashboard, a powerful drag and drop web based environment to assemble and wire several Apps, again with no coding necessary to make it all happen.

Letting you get under the hood: If you should need to customize these Apps, whether created using the wizard-driven App Maker or the powerful drag-and-drop Mashboard, you can simply open any App in a new web based App Editor, and edit your App specification, CSS, JavaScript, HTML. The App Editor also allows you to upload and download complete Apps as a package, so you can further customize and code in your own favorite tools (Sencha, Aptana, Dreamweaver, XCode, etc).

Helping you build bridges: You wanted to mashup Microsoft SharePoint lists and to share your Apps by way of SharePoint. We’ve introduced a new add-on called Mashup Sites for SharePoint which allows you to do just that: consume SharePoint lists into your mashups and to publish our Apps back to SharePoint as native WebParts. You can read more about this in Dan’s post from a few weeks back.

Making it simple to get around: You wanted an integrated experience with an easy-to-use user interface, instead of myriad of disconnected tools and utilities. We present you the Presto Hub, which integrates all the different tools and components of Presto into a centralized location.

Giving you more choices: You wanted more easier way to develop, test and publish mashups. Many of you found the jump from visually mashing up in Wires to coding EMML in our Eclipse-based Mashup Studio, a bit too high. So to make it easier and quicker to develop most of your EMML-driven mashups, we are introducing a new web based EMML Mashup Editor ‘lite’. Our Mashup Studio will of course be still offered since it comes with many power features for EMML developers.

Helping you give your stuff away: Finally, the best part. You have been building Apps over the years with no central place to host them. Sure you could distribute them by embedding them anywhere or publishing them to your portal server. However, we need a place where all these Apps are made available to the user community in your enterprise so that they can easily find, use and share these Apps. We call it the ‘Enterprise App Store’. (More on the App Store in my next post.)

And these are just the highlights! Presto 3.0 represents a massive improvement in capabilities, moving from a simple toolset that creates mashups to an integrated environment to handle the entire lifecycle on a Enterprise App, from ‘feeds’ to mashups to App to the App Store.

I hope you’ll agree that Presto 3.0 makes great strides towards our goal of empowering users to make, use and share the Apps that they need, while letting IT make it safe and secure to do so. We’re quite proud of Presto 3.0 and we’re eager to hear what you think!

OMG! We launched OMA and EMML!

[Crossposted from my JackBe blog]

Today is an exciting day for us at JackBe. It is particularly exciting for our engineering team. Why? Walk down the memory lane with me for a minute…

About 3 years ago, we embarked on a mission to create a new kind of software which today we call an ‘enterprise mashup platform’. And as we started designing JackBe’s enterprise mashup platform (which we ultimately named ‘Presto‘), we knew the basic problem we needed to address was how to make data securely and easily accessible to enterprise users.

That’s not an easy problem, of course. ‘Easy’ and ‘secure’ aren’t often associated with each other. And enterprises are typically heterogeneous collections of data sources, data security solutions, data destinations; web services, portals, databases, spreadsheets, and much, much more. And as we considered the many different options we had to tackle this complex problem, we always came back to one fundamental concept that has proven its worth time and again:

A language is the best tool one can have.

So began our journey towards an ‘Enterprise Mashup Markup Language’ (EMML), a language specifically designed to address the needs of creating and sharing mashups within the enterprise. In conceiving, designing and implementing the language, Raj (our chief architect) and I set out defining the key wants and desires and came up with the following criteria as a basis for EMML:

  1. It should be declarative. So we made it XML-based.
  2. It should leverage existing standards. So we used XPath and XQuery.
  3. It should be domain specific to enterprise mashups. So we added features for user oriented activities.
  4. It should be friendly to popular languages. So we allow the embed of Java, JavaScript, Ruby, and Groovy scripts.
  5. It should be tooling friendly. So we made it interpretive for construction and execution on the fly. And extensible with your own meta-data.
  6. It should be data neutral. So we made it work with all kinds of data from different sources.

While I will refrain from describing the complete language in this blog (instead refer you to the excellent documentation on EMML on the Open Mashup Alliance website), I would like to point out a few key features of EMML here using the following diagram:

Creative Commons License

As you can see, from each feature, and from the collection of all the features EMML offers, it a robust and powerful language for mashups. And over the last few years, EMML has become an important differentiator for Presto, our award winning Enterprise Mashup Platform. As part of Presto, since its debut, EMML has been thoroughly field-tested and proven. It is time to take EMML to the next level.So now let’s return to the present and let me tell you why it is so exciting for all of us here at JackBe.

Today we launched the Open Mashup Alliance (OMA) to promote and foster interoperability and portability through an open mashup language. As a founding member of OMA, JackBe has contributed EMML to the Alliance and, indirectly, to the entire mashup community. Joining us (see this, this and this)are other industry leaders such as Adobe, Bank of America, Capgemini, Hinchcliffe & Co., HP, Intel, Kapow Technologies, Programmable Web, Synteractive, and Xignite.

So why I am so excited about giving away our vision and our hard work? Why would we want to give away one of our crown jewels? Because…

  1. It offers an opportunity for our industry to converge upon an open language that aids interoperability and portability of enterprise mashups.
  2. I believe that OMA offers a huge potential in enabling enterprise mashup adoption in the enterprise by promoting standard approaches and reducing risk and cost.
  3. As a practitioner, I strongly believe in open and standards based approaches for new and emerging technologies and for enterprise mashups, OMA and EMML are it.
  4. By contributing EMML to OMA, we will see a lot more innovation in this space by the members of the mashup community.
  5. I look forward to working with other industry leaders who want to collaborate to ensure portability and interoperability for enterprise mashups.

Why should you care? I hope many of the above reasons are also the relevant reasons for you. As a vendor or a practitioner, I hope you share the excitement and passion for openness and collaboration in any technology. Check out what several industry leaders are saying about OMA and EMML and you will get a sense of why I am so thrilled.

As the enterprise mashup market evolves further, OMA will provide a platform to bring together different efforts around enterprise mashups into a collaborative alliance. If you are a mashup developer, programmer, IT developer, IT Manager, software vendor, or someone simply interested in enterprise mashups, join the OMA Support Group, check out OMA website and download EMML reference implementation and start participating now.

This is just the start of things to come.
Mash On!

Presto Mashup Platform – Developer Edition

A few days ago, we released the complete Presto Enterprise Mashup Platform for all mashup developers to use free: Click here for more details and to download it. Enjoy!

Presto on GlassFish

Works With
Project GlassFish
JackBe Presto is bundled with and runs on the popular Apache Tomcat server out of the box when you download and install it. But as a pure Java application, Presto is designed to run on any standard compliant J2EE application server that has JSP/Servlet support.

I wanted to deploy Presto on Sun’s open source J2EE application server, GlassFish, since a few of our friends at Sun were interested. If you are new to GlassFish, it is the name for the open source project for building a Java EE 5 application server sponsored by Sun & Oracle (more details here).

The process of deployment was very easy. If you have downloaded and installed Presto, it is easy to locate the Presto war files that represent different Presto capabilities and deploy them using the GlassFish administration console or the command line asadmin utillity that comes with the GlassFish installation. With just a click of a few buttons, the following Presto components were deployed on GlassFish:

  • Presto Edge Enterprise Mashup Server with Service Explorer and Administration Console applications for managing Edge
  • Dash, our user driven dynamic desktop application
  • Sample applications to show mashup examples and data binding examples

That and an evaluation license key you get when you download our software is all you need to run Presto on GlassFish. Kudos to our development team for a great job in maintaining standard compliance and pure Java in our code. Pretty cool!