Friday, July 10, 2009

Do ISVs Need An Application Platform that Supports the Ambient Enterprise?

As the owner or CEO of any independent software vendor can tell you, the status quo is not an option. Very early in my career in the software industry I heard people talking about how "you either grow or die."

This is brought on by rapid changes in the competitive landscape – everything from new entrants, to new features, to new adjacent categories – all of which provide alternatives to customers. Add to this the fact that business models employed by software companies are also changing and you find a business environment where people talk about terms like "survival" and "killing the competition."

The paradigm shifts have less to do with the underlying business processes addressed by the software solutions offered and more to do with the way the functionality is delivered to the business organization. The Web, Web 2.0, Web 3.0 shift is taking business use of the Internet from broadcasting to ad hoc interaction to what I call the ambient enterprise. The difference between the ambient enterprise and a business that simply tolerates Web 2.0 is in the degree to which the company embraces online interactivity through both a culture shift and a corresponding technical shift that incorporates the evolving semantic web and integration technologies.

The culture shift is all about embracing the ad hoc interaction of social networking, business networking, and all the myriad activities that are a part of the changing business culture: from web meetings and conferences to socially-driven searchable content and messaging to the myriad of social networking and media options.

Supporting this culture shift from an R&D perspective means mastering new technologies. An Independent Software Vendor needs to be able to make their software offerings relevant in light of this culture shift and the needs of their customers IT departments to embrace the ambient enterprise philosophy and integrate it with existing applications and business processes.

The application platforms that are emerging from this need will have built-in capabilities for multi-tenancy and provisioning, wide Internet accessibility, rich media types and cross-platform server support. These application platforms will be deployment agnostic in that the core business logic will be able to be served across a wide variety of ever changing deployment modes. This requires a metadata driven approach to development that abstracts the underlying technology from the business logic itself. And while this adequately describes the forward tensioning of the market, it doesn't acknowledge the current situation of the typical independent software vendor – they have client server and web-based applications and they need to continue to support existing users and deployment modes. The idea of introducing new languages for the emerging RIA client programming and simultaneously maintain server-side business logic with different languages – all the while having to manually program much of the communication between client and server is quite problematic. By reducing the number of required skillsets, value can be experienced in terms of time-to-market and cost savings. But an ISV doesn't have the option of throwing away existing application logic, application compositing must be supported by whatever application platform is selected so that ISVs have a way to forward migrate their core business logic. In these scenarios, service oriented architecture (SOA) and event-driven architecture will make sense. At the same time, the applications created must be fully scalable from a single desktop user to thousands of client-server or RIA users all the while providing management, monitoring and security.

Similarly, the demand for remote and mobile user support while maintaining a high degree of business interactivity and support for the ambient enterprise is putting strains on the old ways of developing and deploying business software. Obviously, I see the uniPaaS application platform from Magic Software as the first major application platform to step up to these requirements. I believe independent software vendors and corporate developers can address the needs of the ambient enterprise for agile development, RIA development, versatile deployment and secure, scalable applications through this application platform.

For additional information, please download our FREE! White Paper! entitled "The 5 New Essentials of Building Business Applications."

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