IEEE Computer Society and GBC/ACM

7:00 PM, Thursday, January 15, 2009

IBM Innovation Center, 404 Wyman Street, Waltham, MA

It Came From CRM: Rapid Application Development for the Cloud

Dennis McCarthy & James Turner, Kronos Labs

Me And My XO photo In the 1990's, RAD tools such as Visual Basic, PowerBuilder and Delphi radically changed how enterprises developed custom desktop applications. Today there is another revolution underway in enterprise applications. This one comes not from traditional providers of programming languages and integrated development environments, but rather from customer relationship management software vendors. This new approach to enterprise software differs from the conventional J2EE and .NET based practices in two important aspects. First, these platforms provide a higher level of abstraction, enabling business users to create much of the application. Developers are used to augment the application in specific areas. Second, these platforms enable the resulting business application to be deployed as a service running in a cloud. This is radically reducing the time to market for business applications. We will examine two examples of this disruptive technology: and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. In the traditional software development model, the developer needs to decide on a hardware and software platform, create the middleware infrastructure (such as databases, web frameworks, security and the like), and then only after all of that is in place can they interact with the business users to create an application. But the new services such as and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online change the game by providing a largely "soup-to-nuts" environment that provides all the major infrastructure already integrated and ready to deploy to the cloud. This means that the developer spends much more of their time focusing on the business use cases, and that the business users can be much more actively involved in the development process. Of course, nothing comes for free, and choosing to use one of these new platforms has significant implications in terms of applications portability, as well as the technical restrictions that are imposed by the platforms themselves.

Dennis McCarthy is a software developer at Kronos, the leading vendor of workforce management software. He is a member of Kronos Labs, an advanced development team that evaluates emerging technologies for applicability to the workforce management domain. He has previously held similar positions at CCA, Xerox, and GTE/Verizon Laboratories. Over his career, he has worked as a product developer, research scientist, and consultant, with extensive experience in database management and workflow management.

James Turner leads a dual life. By day, he is a senior software engineer working for Kronos Incorporated, where he works in a group exploring advanced next-generation technologies. But once the sun sets, he becomes a widely published freelance journalist and editor, whose works have appeared in publications as diverse as WIRED, ComputerWorld, IEEE Spectrum, CIO Magazine and The Christian Science Monitor. He also serves as a contributing editor for O'Reilly Media, and has published two books on Java web development. He also has been involved in several open source projects, including as a committer and release manager for Apache Struts. He is also one half of the team which produced the online webcomic, The Watering Hole.

The IBM Innovation Center <> is located at 404 Wyman Street, Waltham. There is free parking in the garage at the north end of the building. To reach the meeting room, walk out the front of the garage and around to your right to the front door of the building. Directions to the room will be available when you sign in at the front desk.

We will be taking the speakers to dinner at the Green Papaya after the talk at about 9pm.

For more information contact Peter Mager (p.mager at

Updated: November 22, 2008.