The View From the Dream Factory

January 1st, 2007 |
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This fourth in the series of podcasts from WebEx features a conversation with Bill Appleton, chief technical officer and founder of Dream Factory. His background as a developer gives him unique insights into the world of on-demand software, and he shares those insights in this discussion.

Transcript:

Host: Paul Lancour – PodTech

Guest: Bill Appleton – DreamFactory

Paul Lancour – PodTech

Welcome to Connecting with Revolutionary Minds, conversations with IT and business leaders from WebEx. In this series of Podcasts, you will hear from IT and business pioneers, working on the leading edge of the on-demand business. Catch the latest trends and find out where the industry is heading. I am Paul Lancour with PodTech.net, and for this Podcast, I sat down with Bill Appleton, Chief Technical Officer and founder of DreamFactory. I started by asking him, what DreamFactory is about?

Bill Appleton – DreamFactory

We build rich applications for service architectures. So, if you’ve got an XML Web Services Interface, say WSDL, SOAP, XML-RPC, XSI, XSD, any kind of standards based way, to talk to an enterprise application. Then we build front-ends for that, that turn those services into rich user friendly and hopefully ecstatically pleasing applications that we sell to end users.

Paul Lancour – PodTech

This is a time of something of a revolution in a way people look at buying and using software and as it directs impact on your organization, perhaps, you can talk about how the nature of people’s relationship with software is changing and about the idea of Mash-ups and how they’re placed in the organization?

Bill Appleton – DreamFactory

Yeah absolutely, the couple of ideas there; I mean, one is that the on-demand revolution is really happening and it makes so much sense. You don’t generate your own electricity, you might or might not grow your own food, you certainly don’t grow all of it, you don’t build your own automobile. Why do you host your own servers and run your own software? It’s just doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Paul Lancour – PodTech

The people have been talking about this for sometime. What’s happening right now? People have been seeing that this is the future, the thin client model has been around for a while. What is going on right now that’s allowing this to become more and more of a reality?

Bill Appleton – DreamFactory

Yeah. I think it’s a combination of a lot of things. I think that a big part of it is just the rise of XML Web Services. I think that’s an enabling technology that’s making it happening. It’s a lot of other things coming together. The Web 2.0 movement is making these things more customizable at the client. Also, though I just think there is now a growing realization among business — businesses are not looking to keep up a staff of people to edit applications internally. They don’t develop as many applications internally. They’re really looking for more off-the-shelf solutions that they can go use directly, but at the same time they want those solutions to be highly customizable and highly tailored to their needs. So, I think it’s a really good question. I am not sure if got a great answer for it, but for whatever reason…

Paul Lancour – PodTech

It sounds like a lot of things are coming together at one time.

Bill Appleton – DreamFactory

Yeah really, it’s coming together and now it’s really starting to happen and you see it with Salesforce, you see it with WebEx, you see it with a number of other vendors that are really starting to have a growing acceptance in this market space.

Paul Lancour – PodTech

Let’s talk about your partnership with WebEx. What is it that WebEx brings to the table that makes them a great partner for you to have?

Bill Appleton – DreamFactory

Well, we’re excited about the connect network. If you look at most enterprise software, think about Oracle, or SAP, or RightNow, or SugarCRM or any of these applications, they mainly focus on the corporate organization. So, each one of these corporations, kind of, turn into a Data Silo in a way, but the truth is, if there is a lot of activity that happens between corporations. So, think about any complex project or think about a complex litigation negotiation or supply chain partners or any complex sales event, where you’re buying something that’s a very complex thing.

So, it’s not just a meeting, it’s a series of extended meetings that end up needing in asynchronous component. They end up needing backing material and information that supports this whole process of meetings and then each one of these meetings is kind of configurable in terms of participant and role. So, it’s really a very new thinking about things that can happen not inter-company but intra-company. So, that’s exciting. It’s new thinking. It would have to be an on-demand application because you need a trust a third party to be the host of something like that.

Paul Lancour – PodTech

Tell me — see if I understand this, it’s kind of viral. It’s kind of thinking about it in terms of the ground up rather than looking at an overall enterprise’s needs, it’s on-demand is exactly that. It’s what a person sitting at his or her desk needs right now and can they get access to that right now and that’s what’s going to drive.

Bill Appleton – DreamFactory

Yeah. I think you are exactly right about that and we really see that in our business. People come directly to us, they’re smart business users with real problems. To a large extent, in many situations, we don’t go through the IT Department, we go directly to the end user who has got this need. I think WebEx does that as well to a large extent in many cases. That’s really the beauty of on-demand is that people can get software that they need to solve problems that they have without the difficulty and expense of having to install and host those applications themselves.

Paul Lancour – PodTech

If this is just the onset of something of a revolution in on-demand, where do you see it going in the near future?

Bill Appleton – DreamFactory

Gosh! It’s something I don’t think much about strangely enough because we are so much in the trenches everyday, just taking care of all these customers and building all these rich applications. I think we’re going to look back and realize that there will always be on-premise software and some solutions in that vein, but that this is really going to change desktop software and on-premise software. That’s going to be a dwindling component of where things are happening. The other thing that’s exciting is that the on-demand applications really are leveraging Web 2.0. They’re really leveraging web services.

So, I think they’re fundamentally going to be different better applications than what we have seen in the past; more customizable, more user friendly. Let me give you an example, so, we think applications are really becoming more like content, so that an application is going to be more like movies, more like music, more like anything else you would buy. You don’t need to get IT’s approval to go by song of iTunes either.

So, what happens then is that instead of the traditional role of software developer, which is kind of a millions of dollars, thousands of lifestyle of building applications, we’re much more like a rock band or a movie company. We’re building rich content that is enterprise applications. We’re content publisher. So, we start to look at different set of issues. We start to look at things like art direction and brand and user experience and how we bring these services to the users. So, it’s really almost an entirely new set of interest and disciplines that start to become important in the role of a content publisher, the type of company that we’re trying to build.

Paul Lancour – PodTech

So, it’s been an artificial barrier more or less up to now, or at least may be some of these technological advances, we’ve been talking about, make that barrier no longer necessary between content and applications.

Bill Appleton – DreamFactory

Yeah. Let me give you a little background. My background is in building a rich media and rich user experience products. So, I’ve worked with Disney and Paramount Motion Pictures and companies like that. I wrote SuperCard on the Mac and that was all about how to put together rich user experiences and rich user interfaces. The problem was we couldn’t hook that stuff up to real enterprise data.

So, about the year, 2000 and 1998, along come Web Services and it becomes painfully clear that pretty soon you are going to be able to hook real enterprise data transactions and functionality and workflow to these beautiful UI and use experience pieces that we built in the past. So, it becomes really, really clear to me that now we’ve got this collision between what used to be kind of the horrifying, ugly, old, hard to use enterprise software and rich media Web 2.0 user experience. So, it’s really a collision between those two disciplines. I think that’s the most interesting part of it for me how those things are coming together.

Paul Lancour – PodTech

Great. Bill Appleton is Chief Technical Officer with DreamFactory. Bill thank you so much for joining us.

Bill Appleton – DreamFactory

Thank you.

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