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By: Kevin D. Weeks

Abstract: Daily news summary for 18 October 1999. Edited by Kevin Weeks

Mind your own e-business

The building and deployment of e-business applications got a shot in the arm this week with the introduction of the first XML-based application development environment for e-business. Object Design Inc. announced eXcelon 2.0, which the company says will provide developers with "the industry's most comprehensive solution" for building and deploying e-business applications.

eXcelon provides a suite of development tools, including a professional XSL editor. eXcelon's data server is a powerful e-business engine for storing, managing, and delivering XML e-business information, according to Object Design. Also featured is Xconnects, a connectivity solution that enables e-business developers to access information from almost any corporate data source, convert the data to XML, and load it into the data server, where it can be used for e-business applications.

One of the key features of eXcelon 2.0 is its comprehensive support for XSL, which enables the transformation of XML into HTML for use on the Web or into other forms of XML to make possible the exchange of business information across the Web.

eXcelon 2.0 is priced at US$99 for the learning edition and US$995 for a development license. Deployment licenses start at $15,000 per CPU. A 45-day trial version of eXcelon is also available for free download.

AppsCo enters U.S. market, pairs with Microsoft

For the latest in analytic application development tools, keep an eye on U.K.-based AppsCo Software Limited. The company this week made two significant announcements: a partnership with Microsoft Corp. to deliver advanced analytic applications for Microsoft SQL Server 7.0 databases, and a major upgrade of its data mart and analytic application development environment for Microsoft SQL Server 7.0.

The partnership with Microsoft was announced as part of AppsCo's entry into the United States market. The  company concurrently introduced AppsMart 1.5 -- an upgrade of its software development environment for building and deploying SQL Server 7.0-based data marts and analytic applications -- to U.S. consumers.

 AppsMart enables users to start a design using an analytic application template, iterate the application design to meet their requirements, and deploy the solution to Microsoft SQL Server 7.0. According to its makers, AppsMart gives developers a fast start and consistent methods and techniques when implementing a data mart on the Microsoft platform.

Trio of companies boosts Debian

Another distribution of Linux, like Caldera and Red Hat's Linux distributions, will soon be available in retail stores.  VA Linux Systems, O'Reilly Associates, and Silicon Graphics, Inc, have announced their combined efforts in the Debian Project's GNU/Linux package.

In addition to the current distribution of Debian GNU/Linux, the package will include: 1440 open source software utilities and applications in the package's CD-ROM; Bill McCarty's Learning Debian GNU/Linux (O'Reilly will also provide the book for free online); and a demo CD with Loki Software's Myth II: Soulblighter game software.

The DebianGNU/Linux package will be available for US$19.95 at retail and online stores, as well as direct from VA Linux Systems. According to the three companies, all profits will go to Software in the Public Interest, a nonprofit organization for open source projects.

2000 slipping to 2000?

Microsoft Corp. is expected to announce that the anticipated release of Windows 2000 in Q4 has slipped to February 2000. Development delays and quality issues appear to be the culprit. Windows 2000 is already in the hands of Microsoft's early adopter community, helping Microsoft tweak the release.

Acknowledging the impact this change would have on its partners, Microsoft president Steve Ballmer has stated that a Windows 2000 planning event will be held later this month to map out launch plans in detail. Still intending to release the product to manufacturing by year's end, Ballmer emphasized that regardless of outside pressures, Microsoft will not release Windows 2000 until it is "absolutely, positively right."

Industry analysts are at odds as to the impact a launch delay would have. The GartnerGroup has published a study which finds that fewer than 30 percent of enterprises will adopt the first release of Windows 2000. They cite high deployment costs as the primary reason. Giga Information group has opposing data -- based on its Total Economic Impact metric which measures cost alongside benefits, flexibility and risk -- that supports early Windows 2000 migration.

Sources indicate that Windows 2000 will likely premier in February.

The TCO for PDAs

The ever-curious Gartner Group, Inc. has looked into the Total Cost of Ownership for PDAs, and has concluded that IT organizations should anticipate an average cost of US$2690 per year. That's roughly six times the average cost of the PDA alone, which GartnerGroup pegs at US$450.

Of the total, GartnerGroup estimates that end-user operations and downtime account for 40 percent, capital at 24 percent, administration at 23 percent, and tech support at 13 percent. They estimate the TCO for Windows CE PDAs at $2790 because of increased technical support costs.

According to Ken Dulaney, vice president for GartnerGroup's Research and Advisory Group, "The PDA phenomenon has largely caught IS organizations unprepared." Like the PC before them, these devices have more or less snuck into organizations under IT's radar and IT organizations have been caught flat-footed.

GartnerGroup analysts also note that PDAs, like notebook computers, can pose security risks to an organization.

Web watch

Uncle Sam has another new Web site. Two government agencies have teamed up to create a site that provides the current time, and it promises that it is accurate to much better than one second. The National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Naval Observatory (the top two U.S. time keepers) are members of an international consortium that defines the official world time (Coordinated Universal Time). Both entities keep time via atomic clocks. The delta between each is said not to be greater than one ten-millionth of a second.

The Web site -- -- provides information for U.S. time zones only. Inquiries regarding international time zones are referred to the Date and Time Gateway, which includes a Coordinated Universal Time display. This site also offers links to online exhibits on time-related topics such as clocks, calendars and Daylight Savings Time.

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