Monthly Archives: February 2010

The Extended Enterprise – from vision to reality with Rich Internet Application technology

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In the past year I wrote frequently about the manner in which enterprises approach Rich Internet Applications (RIA’s) and Cloud Architecture. I’m happy to see now tangible evidence of this. During the last couple of weeks I received several case descriptions of productive systems, and I’d like to share a couple of particularly interesting cases. For some reason, the more interesting stories come from the Netherlands – I did not figure out yet what’s behind this, but the first RIA example that I described in “More about Enterprise RIA in practice” also originated in that country.

The “Flower Shop” solution is an Enterprise RIA coming from a joint venture of Extendas (ISV specialising in eCommerce solutions) and Van Delft International (one of the leading suppliers of cut flowers in the Netherlands and award winning early adopter of mobile software technology). This application spans the entire supply chain from the FloraHolland exchange through the flower trader (such as Van Delft) to the flower shop. This is an Enterprise Class application, requiring a rich user interaction and transactional capability that is beyond browser based applications. Implemented with uniPaaS, the application is available simply via a URL and login credentials. It is presently being rolled out and is expected to be used by some 1500 flower shops, streamlining the short-lived flower trade, accelerating logistics and reducing overhead.

Another amazing customer of Magic Software is the VanDrie Group, the World’s largest veal producer. VanDrie already had a browser based application, VealVision, providing the full historical details about your piece of Schnitzel from the farmer to the supermarket. This has been now replaced by a fully interactive RIA, enabling each party in the supply chain to feed the system directly – streamlining the short-lived veal trade, accelerating logistics and reducing overhead

As Redmonk analyst Michael Coté commented on these stories, Enterprise RIA’s bring the “boring back-office applications” to the Web era and the usability level which the millennial generation expects from IT. They also remind us the Cloud Computing is not only infrastructure on demand, but has a far reaching business impact and that its adopters already gain a lot from it.

Renewable energy and hydrogen – what’s the effective cost of energy?

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We have seen in my previous post about hydrogen two main factors that can facilitate the supply and competitiveness of Hydrogen – H2 production, and H2 Storage and Transportation.

At present it takes about 1.5 times energy to produce H2 – meaning that we have to invest 1.5kW in order to obtain 1kW worth of H2. I suspect that the energy investment in obtaining 1kW of Coal or other fossil fuel is not less (in particular when you consider the cost of their being non-renwable). I did some research and found an interesting study by Prof Risto Tarjanne – Competitive Comparison of Electricity Production Alternatives – I copy here the relevant graphic.

 

What this implies is that Nuclear electricity cost is about 2.4€ç/kWh (3.6$ç), and that instead of wasting power during off-peak hours, we can cleanly produce large amounts of hydrogen from water using electrical energy. But given that the boiling point of hydrogen is cryogenic – at about minus 252.87 °C – it is very difficult and expensive to store it as is. One of the main challenges of the hydrogen economy is to find a way to store H2 in a similar density to that of fossil fuel.

Let’s conclude this post by stating that it should be possible to produce hydrogen without CO2 emissions at an energy cost of about 3.6€ç/kWh, or €1.2 per Kg of emission free hydrogen. In the next post, I’ll tackle the storage and transportation issue.

More about Cloud Architecture and Serious Business

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An interesting discussion is developing on ebizQ whether Cloud Computing Too Embryonic to Use for Serious Business Purposes. It shows a consensus that we have to look at the meaning of Cloud Computing in the Enterprise context.

I tend to distinguish between the infrastructure and the software architecture that can support the delivery of enterprise applications in the Cloud (to power users over the web), and the acquisition of such infrastructure and software on a per-use (or other non perpetual) basis.

My personal experience shows that Enterprises are indeed implementing “Cloud Architecture” solutions which are substituting fat Client-Server implementations, but mostly using the traditional business model (perpetual ownership and in-house or hosted location) – when it concerns core and customized solutions. Cloud based infrastructure and applications delivered as a service and on-demand are indeed still limited to “commodity solutions” – collaboration, CRM, etc…

I have described a nice example of these a few months ago (the Segway story and their uniPaaS solution). I’d like to hear more if you have similar or contradictory experiences and observations.

Renewable energy and hydrogen – what’s bringing them together?

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I have been studying recently the hydrogen economy, and I’d like to share the insight I gained.

Taking a different look at energy, we should consider all forms of fuel as energy carriers and all forms of fuel production (whether mining, drilling, via nuclear reaction or solar/wind etc…) as primary energy sources.

Presently, most of our primary energy sources are non renewable, and most of our energy carriers deliver their energy while polluting the environment. What we want for tomorrow is renewable primary energy sources and non-polluting energy carriers, all at a consumer cost similar to the present.

Renewable primary energy sources are usually of a stationary nature – nuclear plants, wind turbines, solar farms or biogas plants. As long as we can directly produce electricity and transport it over wires to stationary consumers (such as households) we’re fine. However, much of the energy we consume is in a mobile setting – automotive and various devices. For these applications, as well as for isolated off-grid location, we need an easily transportable, non-polluting and renewable energy carrier. There is a broad consensus that Hydrogen can be such a carrier, provided we find ways to harness it.

Hydrogen (H2) can be cleanly produced from water with electricity generated by a renewable primary energy source, and when consumed it releases energy while producing clean water. In terms of energy content it is also very attractive: 1Kg of H2 contains the equivalent of 33kWh – compared to about 11kWh contained in the equivalent amount of Diesel fuel – and compared to 0.3kWh in 1Kg of a top battery.

I’ll expand on the practical aspects of hydrogen production, storage and transportation in a subsequent post.

In the meantime, I’m keen to learn about your view on the futur of energy.