Today we formally announced the first iteration of our Enterprise RSS Server - The Attensa Feed Server. It is an appliance offering and can be installed very quickly. While the press release does not state it I think it's obvious that we will offer it in whatever form customers want...we just started with the appliance because it was the simplest, least costly, and quickest way for customers to get a RSS proxy server into their data center. That said, and this is not an announcement, but we will offer the Attensa Feed Server first as an appliance, then as installable software, and later as a service (SaaS.) BTW we also today announced the open public beta of our Attensa for Outlook 1.5.
Though we are the new kids on the block having just announced our server, our experience with pilot customers has been different than our competitors it seems. Really different. Both Greg and VC Brad Feld have commented on their customers not wanting an appliance - or at least "preferring" installable software. Hmmm. All of the pilot customer installs of our appliance, coincidentally, have come on the heels of their rejection of conventionally installable software. In some cases these customers had fiddled for weeks, not days, attempting in vain to install the software and just "get the damn thing to work." The Attensa appliance takes a scant few hours to set up and get running...not days...not weeks...hours.
Also worth noting is that our appliance is far more affordable since we use Linux and open-source technologies, so there is no need for the customer to have to buy other software or tamper with their current software investments to get our appliance easily, quietly, and rapidly into their data center. TCO baby, TCO. From the press release:
"The turnkey appliance is deployable in less than three hours and resides behind the firewall ensuring all data is kept private. It is a Linux-based system utilizing Java, TomCat and Apache. The appliance uses an open source database for its data store and can be optionally integrated with Microsoft Active Directory for user and group information, and with Microsoft Exchange for feed delivery via Outlook and other Exchange clients."
While it is not my personal style or our company's policy to articulate in detail our "roadmap" publicly, like Greg has posted a few times now for NewsGator, we do share it in depth with important partners and prospective customers under NDA. As one might suspect there is considerable overlap with our product line and NG's and thus there is similarity with our roadmap. Our technology approach is very different, however; utilizing a single code base across clients, an un-tethered RSS aggregation engine, and all of it buttressed with deep infrastructure based on handling massive amounts of transient attention meta-data - in real time. Further, RSS is just another data type to us, not the end-all. So, there's a hint to where we're going I suppose.
Short term we are in fact competing with both NewsGator and KnowNow, although probably more directly with KnowNow from a focus perspective since we both target business exclusively (as opposed to publishers through private label offerings or that of the general consumer like NG, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc.) What about competing with Microsoft on the RSS front? Not so much. Microsoft will be handling the basic plumbing sufficiently we believe (as I am sure my contemporaries do) but more important than this is their impact on RSS acceptance. Microsoft will no doubt radically raise the awareness of RSS and slowly gain loyal users of RSS through Vista/IE7/Outlook07 on a massive scale. The need for enterprise solutions will quickly become obvious far beyond the early, but rampant, interest of F500 customers we are already seeing today.