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Network Automation, Connotate and Agents

The news as of the second cup of coffee this morning, and the music is Neil Young's "Live Rust." It's hard to think of any major rock artist who's been around as long as Neil and who's been as good as Neil -- "After The Goldrush" and "Rust Never Sleeps" are in anybody's Top 100 -- who's released as much dreck. Maybe The Beach Boys, but they expired as creative artists years ago and are now simply a human jukebox. When Young's good he's among the very best, yes, but it's difficult to think of any artist taken seriously today who's put out an equal tonnage of forgettable music as ol' Shakey.

And we're not just talking a misfire here and there, everybody has those, we're talking entire eras of Young's career can be safely ignored-- anything he did for poor David Geffen in the 1980s, for starters. Indeed, after 1990's Ragged Glory, where's a truly great Neil Young album? Silver And Gold? You have to admire the man's work ethic, he's industrious about putting out product when he doesn't really need to, but quality, Neil, quality:

Network Automation has announced a series of enhancements to AutoMate BPA Server, the client/server multi-machine edition of its business process automation platform. The upgrade adds support for Web Services, Microsoft Exchange, the grouping of agent machines for workflow assembly, and other new features and actions.

Company officials say users of AutoMate BPA Server can invoke Web Services in automation routines without scripting, making it possible -- for example -- to extract data on customers fitting a specific profile from and put it into the company's marketing automation program, since "the product's native support for Web Services enables tasks to interact with SOAP-based Web resources without custom APIs or hard-coded interfaces."
It also lets users create, modify or delete Microsoft Outlook objects such as calendar and contact entries based on defined event triggers, and build automation workflows for groups of agent machines, company officials say, "eliminating the need to list each machine individually in AutoMate BPA Server's visual task-building window."
There's support for PGP encryption/decryption of any file for secure data transfer and the ability to send and receive e-mail using SSL authentication for SMTP, POP3 and IMAP, as well as what Network Automation officials say is "a variety of enhancements that strengthen the ability to build complex automation sequences without the time and expense of coding."

Introduced in 2008, AutoMate BPA Server is an extension of the AutoMate platform for single-machine process automation. It's available immediately for purchase at $3,995 for new customers and $3,495 for existing clients seeking to upgrade.

The CEO of Connotate , Bruce Molloy, recently gave an interview to Ron Powell and the BeyeNETWORK, discussing among other topics Connotate's approach to the problem of how to monitor and gather business intelligence from the Web. Molloy talked about using intelligent software agents to combine data from Web and enterprise sources.
"Companies seeking competitive advantage in the current economic environment need to employ tools that create efficiencies in the workplace so that they can quickly adjust to the market," Molloy told Powell. "While businesses have invested massive amounts of workplace resources and money to keep abreast of changing sentiment and market conditions, they often fall short on delivering something that can combine the intelligence mined from Web sources with intelligence buried in enterprise systems."
Molloy says his company's Agent Community GEN2 was built with "the needs of the non-technical business user in mind" for such issues. Powell, Co-founder and Editorial Director of the BeyeNETWORK, said without the need for programming, such agents "carry out the tedious data-collection and aggregation tasks."
Connotate officials say the firm's machine-intelligent agents "can do anything a human can do to monitor, mine, analyze, mash-up and deliver content." The agents operate 24 x 7, and content is delivered "over any number of media, including XML, RSS, e-mail, text messaging, file systems and direct feeds to SQL databases and Excel.
Here's a press-stopper: "Cash-strapped consumers and an economy in recession and are bad news for sales of most products." But -- you knew there was a "but" coming soon -- that may not apply to netbooks, according to ABI Research principal analyst Philip Solis.
Solis says several characteristics of the diminutive Web-oriented computers may actually work to their advantage in a depressed market: "Netbook sales may not be adversely affected - in fact may actually be helped - by the recessionary pressures." There are three reasons for this, Solis says: "First, netbooks are a fairly new class of device, and widespread adoption has only recently begun. Second, they are relatively inexpensive, and some consumers may see them as a viable alternative to that pricey laptop they originally intended to buy. Finally, they can run inexpensive operating systems that don't require powerful hardware."
Take First Coffee's word for it -- this column is produced for your entertainment on an Acer Aspire 1 netbook. Well, with an exterior keyboard, mouse and large flat screen. The day somebody comes up with a netbook one can touch-type on with a decent mouse pad is the day we're all waiting for.
Three out of every four netbooks shipped last year ran Windows XP as their operating system, but ABI officials find that even that's changing: "While much recent media attention has been focused on the trend to beef up netbooks and make them more laptop-like (and more expensive), the more important change has been at the lower end of this market. To create a lower-cost device designers are turning to Linux, and, for netbooks with ARM processors, to any of several mobile device operating systems such as Android."

The Achilles' heel of XP as an OS for netbooks is that mobile OSs such as Android, Windows Mobile, and Maemo can still provide the core functionality required of a netbook, but at lower cost and with smaller storage and memory requirements. It's Solis's opinion that 2012 "will see the tipping-point at which netbooks running Linux-based and mobile operating systems outnumber those running Windows XP."
Lafayette, Colorado-based APconnections has announced the release of its newest NetEqualizer model, which company officials say is developed specifically with WISPs and small business users in mind.

How so? Well, this NetEqualizer release is designed for 10 megabits of traffic and 100 users, with potential room for expansion. "Furthermore," company officials say, "in addition to offering all standard NetEqualizer features, this smaller model will be Power over Ethernet."

Company officials say they developed the model specifically "to meet a growing demand both for an affordable traffic shaping device to help small businesses run VoIP concurrent with data traffic over their Internet link as well as a need for a shaping unit with PoE for the WISP market." Since in a large wireless network congestion often occurs at tower locations, APconnections officials think they have a winner with a lower-cost PoE version of the NetEqualizer giving wireless providers "advanced bandwidth control at or near their access distribution points."

Joe D'Esopo, vice president of business development at APconnections, noted that about half of wireless network slowness comes from p2p (Bit Torrent) and video users overloading the access points: "We have had great success with our NE2000 series, but the price point of $2,500 was a bit too high to duplicate all over the network." Pricing for the new model will be $1,200 for existing NetEqualizer users and $1,499 for non-customers purchasing their first unit.
When the network is congested, company officials explain, NetEqualizer's "behavior shaping" technology gives priority to latency sensitive applications, such as VoIP and e-mail, and "controls network flow for the best WAN optimization.

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