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Lasso's Real Estate CRM

The news as of the first cup of coffee this morning, and the music is Rev. Gary Davis's classic country blues album, Say No To The Devil. The Jefferson Airplane's Jorma Kaukonen is only one of the more high-profile rock artists who've been heavily influenced by the good Rev. Davis:

Kickfire has launched an analytic appliance, with what company officials say is the performance capability of large commercial database systems, to the mass market.
The data warehousing mass market is essentially deployments in the gigabytes to low terabytes which, according to IDC numbers cited by Kickfire officials, represent "over three quarters of the total market." Kickfire's analytic appliance targets the MySQL segment, which company official's peg at 12 million active installations and with a brisk growth rate of over 30 percent a year.

The MySQL market does present some pretty big challenges to existing data warehousing vendors, as customers down here want the performance -- but are a lot more price-sensitive than larger customers. They have limited data warehousing expertise and few IT resources, and early-stage data warehousing deployments of the kind typical in the mass market generally have mixed workload characteristics which other vendors cannot support.

Targeting of the mass market in an economic downturn is "right on the money," says Wayne Eckerson, director of Research for The Data Warehousing Institute. "This is an under-served market."

Price is certainly put forward by Kickfire as a competitive selling point, as the product starts at $32,000. It has an SQL chip which company officials claim "packs the power of 10's of CPUs," as well as a column-store engine with full ACID compliance. It's being touted to greenies as a good combination of small form factor and low power consumption. And of course with a plug-and-play design, users don't need a lot of pricey data warehousing expertise and IT resources. The appliance also has features like Active System Monitor, which notifies users of any potential system anomaly, and runs standard MySQL Enterprise.

Kickfire is backed by venture capital firms Accel Partners, Greylock Partners, The Mayfield Fund and Pinnacle Ventures.

Lasso Data Systems, which sells Customer Relationship Management for the real estate industry, has announced that in Q1 2009 "twelve new developers" selected Lasso's home builder sales software for their residential development projects.
During the quarter, clients selected Lasso for real estate marketing, selling and inventory management projects. The new projects add to the company's "over 1,000 projects deployed globally across a spectrum of urban high rise, suburban condo, single and master planned communities, destination resorts and fractional ownership properties," Lasso officials say.

Some of the new clients taken on in the quarter include Capella Bahia Maroma in Riviera Maya, Mexico, FIG Global in Phoenix and Westbank Projects in Vancouver.

"Our prospective clients tell us they need better internal systems to capture, nurture and communicate with their prospect database and to pinpoint the best lead and media source," said Dave Clements, Lasso's CEO. "In these time builders demand a clear CRM technology value proposition, a vendor that understands their core business and their CRM software be deployed quickly with minimal financial risk."

Lasso's software manages potential home buyers online from interest list to occupancy including sales, inventory and contract management. It's a privately held company headquartered in Vancouver.

China's Kingsoft Corporation has announced plans to make its office software business "turn to SaaS within two years," according to Pak Kwan Kau, board chairman and chief executive officer.

Although Kingsoft is a software firm with a 20-year history, it's a relative newcomer to Saas -- as, frankly, are a lot of other software vendors. Currently, Kingdee International Software Group, UFIDA Software, Alisoft and Digital China Holdings are probably the main players in the Chinese SaaS market.

A couple months ago Kingsoft decided to spin off its online game, office software, and security software businesses as three independent companies. The firm also appointed top management teams for the three units. Ge Ke, senior vice president of Kingsoft, was named CEO of the office software and security software companies.

Not to freak you out or anything, but more electronic records were breached in 2008 than the previous four years combined, fueled by "a targeting of the financial services industry and a strong involvement of organized crime," according to the "2009 Verizon Business Data Breach Investigations Report."

This second annual study, based on data analyzed from Verizon Business' actual caseload comprising 285 million compromised records from 90 confirmed breaches, shows that corporations "fell victim to some of the largest cybercrimes ever during 2008." The financial sector accounted for 93 percent of all such incidents, and 90 percent of these records involved groups identified by law enforcement as engaged in organized crime.
As opposed to unorganized criminals, apparently not as much of a threat as the ones who keep schedules.

The report's authors classified nearly nine out of 10 breaches as "avoidable" if security basics had been followed. Most of the breaches investigated did not require particularly difficult or expensive preventive controls, as the report's findings support the conclusion that "mistakes and oversight failures hindered security efforts more than a lack of resources at the time of the breach."

In a finding similar to last year's, "highly sophisticated" attacks account for only 17 percent of breaches -- but 95 percent of the total records breached. This means that your motivated hacker pretty much knows where and what to target.

"The compromise of sensitive information increased dramatically in 2008, and its past time to be vigilant about enterprise security," says Dr. Peter Tippett, vice president of research and intelligence for Verizon Business Security Solutions. "This report should serve as another wake-up call that good security and a proactive approach are paramount to running a business in this day and age -- particularly since the economic crisis is likely to trigger a further increase in criminal activity."

Transverse, a vendor of business support products, has announced the availability of blee(p) Enterprise Edition, the commercially supported version of an open source BSS product for telecom service providers.
Transverse's Business Logic Execution Environment and Platform, mercifully known as blee(p), is a telecom back-office product designed as a set of business management services for back-office systems. The Enterprise Edition is a production-ready distribution of blee(p) with such features as service-level agreements, on site or virtual training and continuing education services and production and developer support staffed 24x7.
Chris Couch, chief operations officer at Transverse, says the result is a carrier-grade BSS product "at a fraction of the price of competitive offerings." In addition to being open source, blee(p) is a Web-based and real-time, and constructed as a service-oriented architecture-based product, providing over 2,100 individual telecom-related business management services.
The product's capabilities include such standard features as multi-service billing and customer care, order and service management, real-time billing and inventory management.
"Until now, service providers have had to face CAPEX and OPEX costs in order to change their back-office architecture to support new business models," says Jim Messer, chief executive officer of Transverse, noting that now service providers have the options of "using open source and other technologies that help end vendor lock-in, as well as reduce the total cost of ownership of back-office systems."

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