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Sunday, August 21, 2005

Composites: Potential To Transform Enterprise Application Landscape

Last week, Sandhill published a piece that I wrote about the emerging world of composite applications. I had been too busy the whole of last week -could not find the time and inclination to write a brief for this blog and point to sandhill. Here's the excerpt:

Today in reality, most IT applications inhibit & not truly enable business process change. To meet the business needs, IT must either build or deliver a new generation of applications that embody business processes, reuse existing applications, and are built to accommodate change with minimal effort. The enterprise application features are mostly maturing, and increasingly large enterprise users are finding less missing functionality in their applications, creating a downward pressure to spend on upgrades around these products. Software margins are suffering due to smaller average prices, flat or reduced license sales, heightened pressures on needed investment in technology changes and an increasing apathy of end use investment in packaged software. Budgetary constraints and years of expansion and overpurchasing have left many enterprises with a hodgepodge of ERP solutions. Business finds that as the installed software base grows, traditional approaches to serving new business needs are proving inadequate. The need is clearly finding mechanisms to support synthesis of new processes while supporting existing processes powered by packaged software and other applications. Today the epicenter of applications that can bring distinct value to business is now firmly centered on domain-specific application platforms or frameworks.Composites embodying processes require less code and less time to build fit in nicely as the solution here. Composite applications consuming services, represented as existing corporate applications, packaged enterprise applications, third-party functions, or new features and functions shall become the new framework for application deployments within enterprises. A framework of service-wrapper tools, orchestration tools, process automation &execution engines, and a page generating engine could be composed to produce a generic composite application framework that could be used by business to generate a composite app.
Enterprise applications shall begin to coalesce around open web services where users can pick and choose just the features they need, and support add ins of distinct blocks provided by other companies. This would enable business to create and modify applications more economically and swiftly. Leading edge products this can come from a mega enterprise or a small IT shop) shall begin to roll out simpler, more flexible and easy to modify blocks of solutions, to meet customers demand of more flexible and agile systems. Composites shall enable the co-option of culture, content, technology & process binding together content centric business process definitions & supporting, architectures – all these set the stage for software effectiveness to be correlated to business results in as direct a manner as possible. The architecture effort needs to ensure support for scalability, consistency, reuse and breadth. The distinction amongst enterprises shall come through distinct style and pattern of deployments, elements of it will be off the shelf and require integration, such as infrastructure, services platforms, packaged applications, and standards based process templates interfacing possibly with legacy apps exposed as services. Obviously moving to such an arrangement is a huge decision for enterprises- a strategic one of high order magnitude. The transition to composite applications would obviously be a long & arduous journey for enterprises, but this should lead to a new degree of alignment setting in rewarding business with immense benefits. Typically a three year transition with IT leading the charge would be the recommended game plan for global enterprises to embrace the new framework holistically. Product engineering too shall also see a positive influence - facilitating development of software in modular pieces, enabling rapid delivery of new functionalities. Several independent developers could start writing specialized programs that plug into the composite apps framework. The composite application ecosystem can comprehensively transform the enterprise ecosystem. Read the full article here

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