SANTA CLARA, Calif.—In the years since the post-2000 IT recession and dot-com meltdown the software industry has been buffeted by business consolidation and job losses.
However, at the Software 2005 conference here Tuesday there were signs that a new generation of startup software companies is emerging with new ideas and products to replace at least some of the jobs lost through earlier business failures and mergers.
The companies that debuted products at the conference included Intellext Inc., which has developed a new context-based search system called Watson; ActStream Technologies Inc., which unveiled a new version of its rich-media communications hosted service; BDNA Corp., which demonstrated an automated IT asset inventory system; and Surgient Inc., which produces automated software testing routines.
Intellexts goal is to make search more effective, relevant and timely, said CEO Alan Wasserberger. “The world doesnt need another search engine, and we are not a search engine company,” Wasserberger said. Intellext, based in Evanston, Ill., doesnt index Web sites and information stored on the Web, he said. Instead, the company is providing Watson, a context-sensitive desktop search tool that allows users to look up information that is relevant to whatever task they happen to be doing at the moment.
For example, a user could be writing an e-mail message about a new company sales win and use the Intellext search engine to check whether the competition has announced any comparable sales.
Wasserberger claims that Intellexts Watson technology provides more effective results than generic search engines because it is able to zero in on the questions that most concern users at the moment based on their current task.
“We fixed the problem that arises when users dont know what they should be looking for or where they should look for it,” Wasserberger said. Watson is designed to serve up the most relevant information automatically.
At the conference on Tuesday, Intellext introduced the ActiveContext iSuite, a set of search tools based on the Watson technology that allows Web publishers and content providers to implement contextual search features on their sites.
The suite, which will ship at the end of June, will integrate with any content management system or search technology a Web publisher uses so all users who access the site can run context-sensitive searches.
ActStream Technologies business approach is to provide a hosted service for delivering rich media communications across the Web. At the conference Tuesday ActStream announced Version 4.0 of its communications service. ActStream allows users to integrate audio and video with basic e-mail messages for sales and marketing campaigns, mass e-mailings, or any type of community building and support, said Robert Craig, CEO of ActStream, based in Burnaby, British Columbia.
Craig contends that scientific studies have shown that people only retain 20 percent of what they see and 30 percent of what they hear. However, information retention goes up to as much as 80 percent when people view messages that integrate text, video, sound and graphics, he said.
ActStream improves corporate communications, Craig said, “by combining the convenience of e-mail, the impact of multimedia and the functionality of enterprise applications.”
ActStream provides three main hosted services: ProStream integrates audio, video, documents and interactive objects in e-mails and rich-media applications; CampaignStream distributes links for access to multimedia applications through e-mails or Web sites; and TrackStream provides information about market response to these rich media applications.
For BDNA, the opportunity was to provide corporate IT departments with a way to more accurately track the diverse computer hardware and software assets deployed across even the largest global organizations.
“As high as 70 percent of manual IT inventories are inaccurate and obsolete because things change all the time,” said Constantine Delivanis, CEO of BDNA, based in Mountain View, Calif.
To address this problem BDNA introduced its iGovern software suite Tuesday, which automatically tracks and aggregates an inventory of hardware and software licenses across even widely dispersed corporate data centers, Delivanis said.
The suite allows companies to save money by tracking what assets are under-utilized, discovering computing capacity that can be redeployed or finding whether the company is getting full value from the software licenses it has paid for, he said.
One new problem it can help corporate IT departments address is discovering the number of wireless devices that are accessing corporate data assets, Delivanis said. Corporations are finding that the number of wireless devises logging into corporate databases is spiking and not all companies have put in place policies and security measures to ensure that corporate systems and data are protected, he said.
Organizations that have deployed the iGovern suite include the U.S. Navy, Motorola Inc. and the Kaiser Permanente health service. Surgient, based in Austin, Texas, introduced an automated software testing system aimed at reducing the time and expense of developing custom testing scripts for complex commercial software products, according to Bill Daniel, president and CEO.
Called the VQMS (Virtual Quality Assurance/Test Management System), Daniel claimed the package can lower the cost of deploying software testing routines by 50 percent or more.
The package also allows software developers to share testing environments with remote locations without duplicating the hardware and software costs, a factor that is important with organizations that have outsourced part of their development programs to offshore sites, he said. Furthermore, automating the testing routines can shorten overall testing cycles, according to Daniel.
Microsoft Corp., Siebel Systems Inc. and BEA Systems Inc. are among the companies that have used Surgients products for software testing and training, Daniel said.
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