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What’s Hot This Summer

You may not know these five products and services. You should.

Others seem to agree. PC magazine has repeatedly named Tableau an Editor’s Choice. Hyperion recently added the program to its BI suite. And Microsoft’s controller (for global platform and operations), Taylor Hawes, uses Tableau. That speaks volumes, given the prodigious amount of data they are rumored to produce in Redmond.

Support for Less: TomorrowNow
Who: SAP America
What: Third-party ERP support and maintenance
Why: Sometimes you want to keep older applications but not go broke.

Talk about maintenance and support costs for ERP software and people usually cringe. Typically, such fees range from 17 percent to 22 percent (and that’s on top of the original licensing fee). What’s more, most ERP vendors support new releases of their products for only five years, forcing customers to upgrade on a regular basis.

TomorrowNow solves that problem. A Texas-based outsourcer, TomorrowNow provides third-party support and maintenance for Oracle apps, including PeopleSoft, JD Edwards, and Siebel, as well as Baan (in Europe). The company says it does this for about half the cost the vendors charge. Why so cheap? Because, unlike ERP vendors, TomorrowNow doesn’t have to spend millions on developing new versions of software.

Equally noteworthy, TomorrowNow provides software support and maintenance for as long as the customer wants to stick with an application — akin to an extended-warranty policy. That support includes tax and regulatory upgrades to software, as well as bug fixes.

A caveat: in a move to lure PeopleSoft customers away from Oracle, ERP heavyweight SAP acquired TomorrowNow in 2005. Earlier this year, Oracle filed a lawsuit against SAP and TomorrowNow, alleging corporate theft “on a grand scale.” SAP has acknowledged “improper downloads,” but says no data was passed from TomorrowNow to SAP.

Potent Portable: Q1 Ultra-CMV
Who: Samsung
What: Ultra mobile portable computer
Why: Laptops are too big and smart phones are too small.

The battle over the sweet spot in portable computing and communications rages on. Notebook manufacturers continue to shrink full-featured laptops, with ultraportables like the remarkable Sony Vaio TX weighing in at less than three pounds. Meanwhile, sellers of smart phones (Palm, Blackberry, and Apple, among others) continue to increase the functionality of their products, with better screens, improved keyboards, and easier Web and E-mail access — plus wireless phone service.

Ultra mobile portable computers (UMPCs) sit between these two groups. The best of the bunch, Samsung’s new Q1 Ultra-CMV (available this month), is a big improvement over its predecessor. The Q1 Ultra-CMV features a built-in QWERTY keyboard (split, to allow for thumb entry, like some PDAs), a seven-inch LCD screen (akin to some smaller laptops), and integrated Wi-Fi and broadband cellular (service plan from AT&T). Battery life has been improved, too, with the Ultra running about four hours on a single charge. The improved functionality hasn’t bulked up the Ultra, either: it tips the scale at a Lilliputian 1.5 pounds.

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