Technology Trends and Other Cool Things

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Redefining the Enterprise IT Environment

Emerging Cloud computing environment, Rich platform / Software offerings...

A while ago, I made a few observations about how end-to-end service offerings (i.e. the "ecosystem strategy") by companies like Apple and Amazon have helped them capture the consumer market. In just a short span of 9 years, this convergence strategy has created significant disruptions in traditional business models such as the mobile handset and smart-phone, music, publishing. Companies that were heavily invested in these narrow, vertically integrated business segments have either closed shop - or have had to significantly re-think their investments and strategies.

Similar disruptive trends in the Enterprise solutions arena will ensure major changes in solution offerings, competitive landscape and therefore, how Enteprise IT is managed. Here's why:

Emerging Cloud computing environment:
Today's typical IT department manages a lot of software and hardware assets to keep a company running. One common thread in most IT departments is that all this is hosted in-house in one or more data centers (either owned or leased). This strategy, while secure and fast is, by no means, cost-effective. It requires costly hardware & storage, network bandwidth and regular technology refreshes to keep things running and supportable.

And until recently there was no real alternative to this strategy.
Availability of cheaper on-demand (and elastic) computing power over a fast Internet connection allows IT departments to provide their businesses with a better option. And with Cloud Computing platforms becoming more ubiquitous, secure and reliable, more CIOs are opting to make investments in this flexible and OpEx-centric environment, rather than sink more CAPEX into building out and expanding their own data centers.

Rich platform / Software offerings:
When Oracle's CEO, Larry Ellison made the Cloud platform announcement, it joined a growing number of companies - from SalesForce.com and Google to Microsoft - to make a secure platform and a suite of mature applications available to enterprises on the Cloud. If they execute it well, I believe Oracle's announcement makes it uniquely positioned to capture the Enterprise market... but that's a different article. But the vast array of available applications on these software platforms (for instance, Force.com and Google Apps) are already redefining how small and medium-sized companies are looking at software purchases.

Integration of Social and Mobile applications into Enterprise Solutions:
This is still an emerging field and one that hasn't been noticed all that much by Enterprise IT, but it has great potential to bring about a huge change in the way business is conducted... think about it for a little bit: all IT solutions are (at their core) data-stores that can be manipulated by a front-end solution. The sensitivity of this information means that security is paramount - and access or dissemination of this information is only done through an approved vessel...  typically, a dedicated (and secure) thick-client or a secure Web-interface.

Accepting the Social paradigm (such as SalesForce.com's Chatter or a Facebook-like convergence platform) requires a careful scrutiny of what information is distributed and how. And enabling these solutions on mobile devices poses a completely different set of challenges. I will talk about these specifics in a different post, but suffice to say that if you were to send details of a $1 million order for approval to an executive's mobile phone (which could get lost or fall into the wrong hands), you need to design contingencies into your application's business and presentation layers.

This type of logic is being incorporated into ERP solutions that are being written from scratch, but existing enterprise solutions need major updates to keep up with these trends.

Taken together, these trends are already changing the way IT is managed. And as the technologies and solutions mature, and costs of adoption come down, this overall trend will continue to redefine enterprise IT investments.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Arun Rao

Arun Rao is a seasoned technology executive based in the SF Bay Area.

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