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Monday, October 31, 2005

Enterprise Software & Core Product Architectures

I wrote a brief article for sandhill.com on the next generation architecture in the enterprise software industry. In this dynamic business world, enterprises look towards constantly improving, realigning & automating their operations to remain nimble and be ever-ready to meet market challenges. Customer demands, market dynamics, and technology advancements are pushing solution frameworks to be aligned towards an experience of end-to-end process fulfillment. Enterprise customers have begun to appreciate the significance of product architectures in determining the effectiveness and suitability of solutions in scaling up to meet such requirements. All other things being equal, the success of software vendors would be to a large extent dependant on these strengths. Such architectures need to assimilate emerging technologies and support evolving business requirements. The very high life cycle cost of enterprise applications imposes limits on the ability of configured software to meet varying business demands. The fast emerging next generation architecture can substantially help in overcoming such limitations..
Across the spectrum of industries, sectors, regions, enterprises – there are underlying unique nature of processes,( granted that there may be a significant degree of common denominator) calling for specific solution approaches and frameworks. The current approach of architecting solutions towards accommodating conflicting, overlapping & unique requirements invariably leads to complex solutions propping up bloatware in the process. Provisions made for minor constituents /stakeholders force the majority to tolerate unwanted set of functionalities. Focused, lean products addressing specific constituencies would allow customers to adapt software that meets their own, individual needs. The next generation of application architecture must gratuitously support business processes cutting across application boundaries. An ideal composite solution shall integrate business processes, applications and data, and extend incremental functionalities to "plug the gaps" to produce a cohesive, composite application that ensures semantic, transactional & contextual integrity across the business process. Wide and varied technologies, formats & protocols need to be managed for cross-applications and would obviously force specific solutions to be rolled out. The architecture will need to provide support for integration at various levels - business process level, application integration level, and application extension level to enable enterprises to maximize the benefits by facilitating the tying together of varied applications in a way that the resultant composite application is better than the sum of its parts. In the world of composites, application boundaries disappear and applications gradually imbibe such architectural capabilities . Futuristic enterprise products will provide in depth support to industry functionalities and offer tight integration capabilities with vertical solution that are of best-of-breed ‘bolt-on’ product types. The next generation of enterprise architecture must bestow the business with large scale consolidations happening within the industry. The basis of competition shifts from plain market muscle, promotions and fast moving abilities to providing future proof architectures and good support to business processes through repository centric integrated offering benefiting the business across the extended value chain. Read the full article here.

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