February 10, 2010

Measuring EnThinnai against “facebook Manifesto”

I posted the following at EnThinnai blog. Please post your comments there.

Over a series of posts in his blog Confused of Calcutta, JP Rangaswami presents his thoughts on how corporate IT department should get inspiration from Facebook to develop and deploy software infrastructure that emerging workforce will demand. I call the collection of posts “facebook Manifesto” (the case of the letters being used advisedly). The purpose of this post is to compare EnThinnai against this Manifesto. Admittedly, EnThinnai has some gaps to fill. In some cases, we have taken some of the ideas a step farther and in a few cases there are fundamental breaches. This posts catalogues them in an attempt to develop a road-map for our future development plans.

The set of JP's posts that are relevant to this analysis are:

  1. Facebook and the enterprise: Part 1

  2. The Facebookisation of the enterprise

  3. More on the Facebookisation of the enterprise

  4. Walls and bridges: even more on Facebookisation

Even though you will enjoy and benefit from reading these original posts, let me capture the main points here for ease of reference.

  1. Tomorrow's workforce is experiencing and learning social skills in Facebook, which seem to have different collaboration philosophy than what is traditionally practiced in the corporate world. Just as corporations have supplied old world social facilitators like watercoolers and canteens, modern corporations must supply social network platforms. In his opinion the platform must support publishing, search, fulfillment and conversation. He calls them Four Pillars.

  2. An enterprise worker would prefer to see all theses things for a quick review: news events, a unified inbox, appointments, communities, consulting and sharing views and opinions.

  3. The unified inbox is enabled with both a white list and a blacklist.

  4. Colleagues' presence information

  5. Search and discoverability tools

  6. Easy to mash-up third party applications

  7. Ability to federate with customers, partners and supply chain

  8. Total flexibility in privacy and access control

Given these broad objectives, the Manifesto also identifies a specific set of features:

  1. A personal token that can be used for all the activities in the company

  2. A place to create personal profile that allows for discoverability

  3. Create and maintain a social graph

  4. PIM - Address book, calendar and to do list

  5. Real-time communication with the members of the social graph

  6. Publication platform

  7. News feed

EnThinnai uses company supplied OpenID for authentication. So this can be used for other activities both within the company and also at external sites. Additionally, we can use the Attribute Exchange mechanism used in OpenID to convey HR supplied authorization information like Job Title, scope of control and the like.

EnThinnai allows for its users to create a rudimentary profile and also a set of contact information. There is no address book in the traditional sense. EnThinnai maintains a list of Contacts, their OpenID and the name of their EnThinnai server. When a user would like to access the contact information of a specific person, it will retrieve the information in real time. The current version does not have Calendar, but it is in our road-map.

EnThinnai has its own version of social graph but it is very different from the normal one. Unlike many other social graphs, in EnThinnai the concept of buddy is unilateral. If B is in the social graph of A does not mean that A is in B's. Indeed, B may not even know that she is in A's social graph. B may not even be a member of EnThinnai. Of course B is identified by her OpenID; so it requires that she have an OpenID. (Though the "follower" relationship in Twitter is also unilateral, there is a fundamental difference between these two.)

EnThinnai allows real-time communication with Availability status, text-chat and voice communication between users of EnThinnai and members of their social graph. It is to be noted that this is done with no requirement on pre-installing a client by either parties. Oh, we use a wideband codec for voice chat. The text chat is a persistent chat in the sense that the chat session can be continued at a later time and the whole session is saved.

The main objective of EnThinnai is to share digital information. Accordingly, users of EnThinnai can publish documents, share files with explicit access controls. Furthermore people allowed to access the published information can post comments. EnThinnai is planning to integrate recently open spurced Etherpad so it is possible to edit a document in real-time.

If two people are mutually in each others social graph, but are under different EnThinnai deployments, then the update information is exchanged between the servers using webhook technology. This simple mechanism is used to federate multiple EnThinnai deployments.

So over all we are very satisfied in how we meet the objectives of the Manifesto. Still we have lot more to do and we are very encouraged.

Posted by aswath at 09:13 PM | Comments (0)

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