By Hirotaka Yamamoto (@ymmt2005) and Nimrod Grinvald (@ngrinvald)
Step back in time with us to 1997.
Two years from now, Marc Benioff will found Salesforce in a San Francisco apartment and declare “The End of Software.” Soon, his product will usher in an era where customers rent software over the Internet.
But for now, in humble 1997, modems make squealing phone calls on telephone hardlines to log onto the World Wide Web. Media downloads are legal worldwide but slow: a typical 3-minute song takes 20 minutes to copy. To use software, customers first hold CD-ROMs in their hands and then jam them into their machines to install.
It's then and there that our company, Cybozu, sees a need for software as a tool for collective collaboration.
THE RISE (AND FALL) OF GROUPWARE
We build our products with ordinary businesspeople in mind. Work colleagues need to coordinate using various tools including shared calendars, to-do lists, bulletin boards, forms, e-mails, and more. We called our products groupware - a command center for teams.
And groupware is a hit. Within three years, Cybozu becomes the fastest company at the time to list publicly on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
Internet technologies mature. Before long, we offer our software as a service (SaaS) over faster Internet connections. Companies use our groupware—especially our Kintone platform—in combination with other best-in-breed cloud tools such as GitHub, Slack, Miro, and Zoom. But collaborating across many tools brings friction. We see the same common problems recur:
Because of varied SaaS adoption across an organization, licensing gates block access to important information. Teams without Miro licenses cannot even notice materials their sister teams create in Miro. And sharing data across tools can be a real pain.
High total cost of ownership (TCO)
The IT division must (de)provision users and groups across all services. SSO solutions centralizing the management of this provisioning are a must. The alternative involves manual effort or end user password management…yikes.
How do we make it easy for teammates to get together in one place, share important data, and communicate? And how do we make that environment easy to administer?
That’s what we’re building today: the next-generation command center for teams. We want to:
- Allow people to use their choice of cloud services.
- Facilitate communication among users and teams.
- Enable people to share information across different tools.
From a technical point of view, this next-generation groupware should be constructed around these core features:
- SAML 2.0 and OIDC based single-sign-on.
- A directory service to provide information about users and teams.
- OAuth 2 based authorization service to implement information sharing across services.
You may recognize these features as ones commonly seen in Identity & Access Management (IAM) products. We believe IAM functionality will live at the heart of next-generation groupware.
JOIN OUR TEAM!
Cybozu, the company developing and providing Kintone, has been creating Web collaboration tools since its inception in 1997. As the Chief Architect of Cybozu, I am currently starting a new project to redefine our product line for the 2020s. We are starting with IAM.
IAM products should always be available because otherwise people lose access to the entire system. Achieving such high availability could be a tough challenge, and we are excited to design a completely new architecture to overcome this obstacle.
Currently, our work is in its infancy. Our team is small, and we are looking for the right talent.
Do you want to help make teamwork and collaboration better? Are you interested in creating a new IAM product? Do you want to guide the future of next-generation software?
Read our open positions. We are looking forward to working with you.