By David Sims
David at firstcoffee d*t biz
The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is rockin’ Rod Stewart. When he really wanted to, there wasn’t anyone who did fun, boozy, bluesy, good-time white-knuckle rock ‘n’ roll any better:
Good morning all, and amidst all the news of Obama and Hillary raking in millions upon millions of dollars, shopping malls exploding in Illinois, and Roger Clemens approaching The New Republic’s Scott Beauchampian levels of credibility, I know the Number One burning issue on all your minds is, “Who the heck thought up February 29th anyway?”
Good question. As it turns out, it takes the earth 365.5 days — specifically, 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds — to orbit the sun. So, once every four years, to reboot the calendar, we add one day.
Okay, the calendar’s not exact. So? Big deal.
For agrarian cultures, it was a big deal. Farmers had to do with such wisdom as that provided by the Greek poet Hesiod, who told farmers to sharpen their farming tools when snails began climbing up plants. Clearly, a calendar was needed, but with inaccurate calendars, the equinoxes had this nasty habit of slipping off their dates, throwing barley, hops, and other less important crop planting and harvesting cycles all to the winds.
According to the invaluable Writer’s Almanac
, the ancient Egyptians had developed a calendar with 12 months and 365 days, while the Romans were using a calendar that was so faulty they often had to add an extra 80 days to the year. This is, of course, the calendar still used by the people who promised to send someone out to fix your heat pump “in a few days.” In 46 B.C., after his affair with Cleopatra, Caesar chose to adopt the superior Egyptian calendar, and this became known as the Julian calendar.
In the 13th century, friar Roger Bacon sent a letter to the Pope saying he had calculated the actual length of the solar year as slightly less than 365.25 days. The Pope thanked Bacon by throwing him in prison for implying that the Pope was fallible. In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII hired a group of Jesuits to fix the calendar, and they came up with the system of omitting the leap day at the beginning of each century, except for those centuries divisible by 400. That seemed to clear things up — it’s the calendar we use today.
But Pope Gregory’s calendar was about 10 days off, so he simply eliminated October 5 – 14. Popes back then could do things like that, one of the perks that made it kind of a fun job. Protestant countries didn’t adopt the new calendar until much later, so if you crossed the border of certain European countries, you had to set your clock back or forward by at least 10 days. Great Britain accepted the Gregorian calendar in 1751, lopping 11 days from the year, and mobs gathered in the streets, chanting, “Give us back our 11 days!” You wouldn’t believe the fun enjoyed by landlords and renters on monthly contracts.
“Okay, so why is it called a ‘leap year?’“ Thank you, there in the back. Hundreds of years ago, February 29th, while widely accepted, had no legal status in English law, which required counting February 28th and 29th as one day. The magistrates simply “leaped over” the day, hence the term, “leap year.”
The upside is that it was considered a day when tradition could be broken all around, which led to the practice of allowing women to propose to a man on February 29th.
Any leaplings out there? People born on February 29th? Raise your hand Ann Lee, founder of the Shaker order, and Italian composer Gioacchino Rossini, Jimmy Dorsey, and Dinah Shore, Mario Andretti, and Henri Richard, and in one of the more gruesome coincidences, serial killers Aileen Wuornos (1956) and Richard Ramirez (1960).
Treb Ryan, CEO of OpSource, took some time out from the SaaS Summit to answer some questions about OpSource’s current doings:
FC: Describe what OpSource does.
TR: OpSource delivers Web applications and Software-as-a-Service for on-demand companies. FedEx delivers packages, OpSource delivers on-demand applications. The OpSource On-Demand platform provides the operational infrastructure, networking, servers, databases, things like that, and application management and business operations such as application analytics and online support.
FC: What’s the history behind your company?
TR: OpSource was founded in 2002, and initially focused on managed services for telecommunications companies. When SaaS emerged in 2005, OpSource saw an opportunity to start working with small startups, and larger, more established software companies as well, helping them outsource software as a service delivery, which, at the time, really wasn’t in their DNA.
FC: Who are some of your customers?
TR: Oh, hundreds of customers, millions of end users. Business Objects and BMC, along with startups such as Etology, Ribbit, and Zipidy. Etology’s grown from a startup to a company currently serving over two billion ads per day via OpSource On-Demand, and has, over the past twelve months, grown 832 percent.
And as far as CRM goes, OpSource was Salesforce.com’s first SaaS delivery partner, effectively giving Salesforce.com’s customers more options for delivering their on-demand applications. AppExchange ISV partners can accelerate their time to market by up to 33 percent by choosing OpSource On-Demand for Web application delivery. To use a familiar analogy, if AppExchange is the iTunes of enterprise application software, then OpSource On-Demand is the iPod.
FC: What is OpSource’s impact on the industry?
TR: We allow on-demand companies to focus on the application functionality instead of spending time and millions of dollars on technical operations, applications management, and business optimization tools. Companies can offer not only more reliable and secure applications, but much richer functionality than they would be able to do otherwise.
FC: How does OpSource go to market?
TR: It’s a combination of direct sales and channel relationships. We were the first certified SaaS provider for AppExchange, and we’re certified by WebEx. Microsoft has certified OpSource as a Gold Partner. We’re SAS 70 Type II audited, Level One PCI DSS compliant, and European Safe Harbor certified.
FC: How does OpSource charge for its services?
TR: It’s called “Success-Based Pricing,” basically a unit-based pricing model that lets businesses begin with a minimum commitment and scale expenses as revenues increase.
FC: So what’s next for OpSource?
TR: Glad you asked. OpSource Connect, which extends the economies and versatility of OpSource On-Demand by letting enterprises both consume and publish Web services across a common, secure platform and operating environment — the OpSource Services Bus. OpSource Connect deals with the problem of SaaS integration, and lets on-demand companies to extend and enhance their offerings to support business requirements.
As the first multi-tenant enterprise services bus in the market, the OpSource Services Bus allows two-way integration of customer or third-party Web services accelerating revenue generation and speeding time-to-market.
FC: Can you give an example of how this works?
TR: OpSource Billing lets customers sign up online and engage prospects in a free trial situation. Now, if an end user signs up for a free trial, that information can be integrated into the company’s Salesforce.com account. When the customer signs up, that information can be integrated into an app like QuickBooks or SAP, and a new billing record created. Companies can view trouble tickets in Salesforce.com or RightNow.
FC: So what do you see as OpSource’s market advantage?
TR: Integrating SaaS is a huge issue for today’s enterprise. OpSource Connect can help SaaS companies — of any size — overcome integration hurdles and break out of the SaaS-only box. This speeds up adoption of SaaS in larger enterprise environments, opening the door for on-demand companies to cultivate business with large systems integrators. Plus, I’d say we’re the only company providing Web operations from the ground up, addressing operational infrastructure, application management, and business operations.
FC: Okay, how is OpSource Connect different from mashups or composite applications?
TR: Today, integrations are expensive and one-to-one. For instance, while you can currently integrate your application with Google Maps as a composite application, OpSource Connect lets you integrate your app with many others, using just one platform. You can integrate your application with, for example, SAP, salesforce.com, Intuit QuickBooks, NetSuite, and a host of other SaaS and legacy applications.