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Thursday, January 06, 2005

Applistructure: The Next Big or Bust Thing for Enterprise Applications

Applistructure,the merger of enterprise application and infrastructure technology, is going to be one of those terms that will drive copy editors and spell checkers batty for the next few years. Driven by customer need to simplify the Gordian Knot of support technologies they have installed and the need of large vendors to increase wallet share, applistructure is positioned to emerge as one of the most controversial topics the next two years.Erik Keller, the well known AMR fellow, says it will take much longer than 24 months,for the market to clearly identify leaders. Excerpts with edits and my comments added :

Need for applistructure :The concept of an integrated stack of enterprise applications and infrastructure is coming from buyers and sellers. The overall complexity of maintaining myriad IT systems has created an entitlement base of technology within most corporations that consumes between 60% and 80% of the total budget. Integrated enterprise applications were to rein these expenses in, but they haven’t. To illustrate the cost and complexity, PeopleSoft and IBM were to spend $1B the next five years to integrate IBM WebSphere and PeopleSoft applications (Oracle’s acquisition of PeopleSoft notwithstanding). Thus, IT buyers are looking to cut down on the number of technology platforms and partners in the hopes that standardization can help slash their entitlements costs. At the same time they want technology deployments (either purchased or built in-house) that are more flexible, meaning technologies that can be selected, implemented, and used before the business strategy they were selected for is no longer relevant. Today, Web services and Service-Oriented Architectures (SOAs) are taking the place of objects as the next great technology.
Cost savings and business flexibility are touted as the two major advantages of applistructure.

The top four players are:
-IBM, with WebSphere and other infrastructure and its current focus on business process outsourcing and creation of custom applications via low-cost, high-quality labor sources
-Microsoft, with Longhorn and Project Green initiatives
-Oracle, with its application portfolio (including PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards) and its infrastructure and database systems
-SAP via its application suite (R/3, mySAP, etc.) and infrastructure initiatives including NetWeaver and its Enterprise Service Architecture (ESA)

An interesting dark horse is open source. No one is delivering such a play today, but it is not beyond imagination to see an HP, Dell, Wipro, or Tata creating a new master platform of applistructure based on available infrastructure components combined with certification and services definitions for best-of-breed enterprise application providers. Emerging markets in China and India make this an even more intriguing choice.

To deliver applistructure, an integrated and complete set of applications and infrastructure are provided. The components may come from different companies but are managed and guaranteed by a single one. The top four companies here, however, are split as to current approach: IBM and Microsoft are choosing application partners (for now) while Oracle and SAP are doing so by themselves (for now). Both sets can (and most likely will) alter their current paths to become a bit more like their counterparts.
A successful applistructure will comprise five elements:
-Continuously decrease the operational cost of information technology
-Permit a fast and flexible reconfiguration of business processes
-Deliver secure and reliable service levels
-Permit upgrades and product enhancements on the fly
-Allow different technology providers as well as custom/legacy code to plug and play seamlessly
These five requirements are far from reality today and this last requirement will be the hardest for companies with a large application portfolio, such as Oracle and SAP. The business models of IBM and Microsoft lend themselves to better work with application providers. This is an emerging market and a space to watch - for two reasons: Virtually every big organisation in the world would need this; and there are onlylimited no. of players operating in this space now, with potential for maturing the market considered high.

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Sadagopan's Weblog on Emerging Technologies, Trends,Thoughts, Ideas & Cyberworld
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