Posted on March 19th, 2010 at 12:32 PM by Wan
Listen with webreader

Zoho is a web 2.0 office application suite from AdventNet Inc., which offers a lot of services to its users especially the small and medium entrepreneurs. It is as popular as Salesforce which does a similar job, which is also web-based CRM solution. Why Zoho? It is supported by over 120 developers and has launched 15 different applications mainly focusing in working office solutions.  Its CRM application is available in 3 different editions: free edition, professional edition and enterprise edition which includes sales & marketing, inventory management, customer support & service as well as reports & dashboards.

Generally speaking, it has almost everything including having a blog and forum site. This is a mashup ecosystem that creates many new services opportunities that uses and combines data or functionality from external sources and provides rich set of features such as email, office applications, wiki, conference meeting and more. Users could share all or part of their data with other users. It can be as granular as an individual page, page object or a web page. It support multiple data formats and delivery where users could built their web sites using PHP, JSP, ASP, Perl or any other programming language. REST allows users to add one record at a time.  Meanwhile, RPC API allows user to add multiple records in multiple forms or applications at a time. Both response formats are supported in XML, CSV, JSON.

Zoho offers a wide selection of APIs to its service strategy.  It was design for remixability where some of its APIs can be used for mobile interface, Facebook, Microsoft applications, hosting back-end databases and many other SaaS (Software as a Service) services. CloudSQL architecture is used in all Zoho services.  It is an extension to the existing web API technology that allows the developers to interact with business data stored across Zoho services using SQL language. The developers could use this service to collect, store and mine their business data. It encourages them to enhance their SQL language skills for faster deployment and easier integration of applications. A good example for this would be Ghost CC and StartForce websites. Both are using Zoho API services. Zoho have partnered with Omnidrive to develop a standard protocol for web applications to allow users read and write data to storage providers, Omnidrive.

In technology gaps, Zoho is using a SSL for all their credit card transactions. It has been approved by W3C and is secure.  Their security and privacy policies are periodically reviewed and enhanced as necessary and only authorized individuals have access to the information. They will post privacy policy changes so users are always aware of what information being collected, used, and under what circumstances they could disclose it. In Terms of Service, it was clearly stated that the services are provided “AS-IS-AND-AS-AVAILABLE” basis for user’s information and personal use only and the use of the service is at user’s sole risk.

Some of the issues encountered in using Zoho are mainly to do with its lacking features and stability issues.  For instant, users experience glitches when importing data where Zoho apologize for this service for a fact it is still in beta version. Meanwhile, Zoho Chat instant messaging does not work with major instant messaging services. Zoho Show provides only basic slides with no tables, transition effects and character creation function. Perhaps another biggest risks for Zoho would be security issues. Is it secure? Web-based applications have long been considered potential security risks. For this reason, many big clients prefer to keep their applications, data, and IT operations under their own control without using an API provider. But that is something for Zoho would try to tackle in future.

The future direction of Zoho is great, as it is a vendor to watch as it grows year by year. Backed by Google, Zoho offers something for everyone. Zoho is catching up with Google in terms of functionality and features.

Zoho takes on Microsoft and Google

References:

  1. Ghost Inc. (2010). Ghost Cloud Computing. Retrieved 19 March 2010, from http://ghost.cc
  2. John W. Rittinghouse, James F. Ransome. (2010). Cloud Computing Implementation, Management, and Security, CRC Press, Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.
  3. Michael Miller (2009). Cloud Computing: Web-Based Applications That Change the Way You Work and Collaborate Online, QUE, Indiana.
  4. Richard MacManus (2007). Zoho and Omnidrive working on Web App data standards. Retrieved 19 March 2010, from http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/zoho_omnidrive_data_standards.php
  5. StartForce. (2010). Official provider of Your Desktop on the Web, Web Desktop, Desktop Virtualization and Thin Client Solution. Retrieved 19 March 2010, from http://www.startforce.com
  6. Zoho Corp (2010). About Zoho. Retrieved 19 March 2010, from http://www.zoho.com
  7. Zoho Corp (2010). Zoho – Terms of Service. Retrieved 19 March 2010, from http://www.zoho.com/terms.html
  8. Zoho Corp (2010). Zoho Creator API. Retrieved 19 March 2010, from http://writer.zoho.com/public/help/creator-api-index/fullpage