OpenSpan is a leading provider of application integration and automation software for the enterprise. I recently spoke with Francis Carden, CEO of OpenSpan, about the company’s positioning in the IP
Communications market and what he sees as some of the more compelling trends in the industry. The following is based on those responses.
RT: What trends are you noticing in the communications market?
We are noticing a greater surge in moving away from land-based phones in 2008. Business VoIP
is just a commodity now and, I’m not sure that if you have communications in your business, you really care what underlying technology is used as long as it’s easy to maintain, extremely reliable and cost effective.
RT: Did 2007 finish the way your company expected?
FC: Yes, 2007 was a great year for OpenSpan with revenue growing by a factor of five over 2006. Even with the sub-prime woes, OpenSpan saw a dramatic surge in our financial services business as these enterprises increase their focus on efficiency, quality and customer satisfaction. Enterprises that find and implement products in 2008 that can enable them to rapidly build and maintain a significant competitive edge will win over those that lag in the decision process.
RT: Is 2008 going to be a better year than 2007?
FC: For OpenSpan, absolutely. We expect to double our revenue again and we have some very exciting product announcements on tap for the first half of the year; one of which we expect will forever alter the role of the desktop in the new services-oriented environment. From an industry perspective, I expect 2008 to be a tough year for growth with the exception of IT vendors that help enterprises modernize their existing investments in IT as well as select SAAS and Web 2.0 companies. I would expect a lot of consolidation in the Web 2.0 market simply based on the large number of vendors currently competing.
RT: What technologies have altered the market the most?
, by far, has and will continue to alter the markets the most. When enterprises see what virtualization really can do, you will see a significant pace in adoption of this technology across the mid-top tier markets. Also, clever integration products are probably next on my list because what we have learned in 2007 is that whilst SOA is the right approach, it really is part of a larger architectural change. Products enabling consumption of services will drive more rapid adoption of SOA also, because if business sees the immediate benefit, IT will get the budgets for their SOA needs.
RT: How has Skype changed the telecom market?
FC: In the consumer field, a little. I think Skype draws attention to VoIP, but reliability and quality are still missing for commercial use. Business VoIP is of course, already here for prime time. I do think, in the next few years, the cost of making a call will just become a fixed cost for everyone. I personally have VoIP at home (over my Cable provider). My family sees no difference to the baby bells we used for 20+ years and more importantly, it’s a fixed cost now, regardless of how many calls are made.
RT: How will Apple (News - Alert), Google and Microsoft each change the telecom space?
I’m not convinced they will. Consolidation of mobile device interfaces and making a call will continue, but you’ve got to admit, there’s nothing ground breaking, at least not on the horizon for 2008. If the best tech of 2007 is the iPhone (News
) and the new voicemail library, then in my view, that’s a pretty sad 2007. I hope 2008 is different and I might be missing something, but I don’t think so.
RT: Do you have predictions about the 700 MHz auction?
It might bring another player like Google (News
) into the already crowded cell phone market, but this will then likely drive away the contract lock-ins inherent to most. This is a good thing for consumers, but technically, I don’t see much change.
RT: What are the brightest spots in your business going forward?
FC: Enterprises now realize that just as it took mainframe applications over 15 years to be phased out (and they are still not out), it will take similar time for all of the other legacy application types to go away (if ever), even with SOA. Since OpenSpan focuses on providing a path to new technologies by enabling existing technologies to be better utilized, OpenSpan will continue to see record growth.
RT: What are the biggest threats you see to your company’s success?
FC: I think we’ve passed most of them and enterprises now get what we do. In good times and bad times, re-using what you have already invested in, and making it more efficient whilst keeping you in the “new” architecture game is always going to win.
RT: What will conferees learn from your ITEXPO (News - Alert) conference session this month?
FC: How to benefit from key technology trends like virtualization and SOA without having to replace all of your current investments in applications and, maybe more importantly, how to leverage these technologies without negatively affecting the actual desktop uses within your enterprise. I want to help IT avoid creating yet more silos and will discuss how they can do so in the real world; where replacing legacy applications likely isn’t a short-term option.
RT: Who should attend?
FC: Anybody that is interested in the intersection points between SOA, virtualization, BPM and the human user.
RT: What unique perspectives will you offer?
FC: I will discuss how OpenSpan can help enterprises integrate existing applications (host, Java, Windows, Web, even Web services), automate workflows across these applications, extend these applications with new business logic, and create new enterprise mashup — and do so in a fraction of the time that virtually anybody thought possible. You have to see it to believe it.
RT: What is the most exciting market change we can expect in communications in technology in 2008 and beyond?
FC: Wireless grid communication networking — meaning a global network of intercommunicating devices that will allow your business and wireless home networks to act as one big “tower” to allow you (and anyone else) to be connected almost anywhere for a very low fee, but also, at very high speed. The carriers will try to prevent this but in the end, it will be unstoppable.
RT: Please make one surprising prediction for 2008.
FC: Virtualization will enable the rapid adoption of Secure Rich Clients, with use-anywhere Rich Applications — securely.