What Is The Definition Of An "Application"?

What is the definition of an "application"? We are "applications development and delivery professionals" - surely we have this question nailed, don't we? The question keeps coming up in different contexts, and since there are many potential opinions, a blog is the perfect place to spur debate. Here are some (simplistic) questions to generate debate:

  • Is a Web page an application?
    • If not, how many Web pages does it take until I consider it an application - 10, 100, 1,000?
  • Does size matter? (Please behave yourselves with this one.)
    • Is the size of the code base a pertinent factor?
  • What about SharePoint sites, Access databases, and spreadsheets? Are they applications?
  • Where do COTS and packaged apps fit?
  • Does the technology I use affect the definition?
    • If I use a scripting language for a quick-and-dirty task, is that an application? 
  • Does SOA erode the definition of an application?
    • Do we cease thinking about applications as entities and think about them more as containers that hold collections of SOA services?
  • How does open source affect the definition?
  • How does my role affect my perception of an application?
    • Do developers and users use similar definitions?

I have my opinions - in fact I just finished a draft piece of research on it that will be published in January, but what are your opinions?

As Application Rationalization Grows Hotter In 2011 - Vendors Will Play Catch-Up

In his report on the top technology trends to watch in 2011 to 2013, my colleague Gene Leganza called out application portfolio management (APM) as one of a number of "planning and analysis tools to manage the future." Forrester clients seem to agree with Gene; in fact they aren't even waiting until 2011 - their interest has been building steadily throughout the second half of 2010.

One case in point: thousands of unique client hits in Q3 alone on a new report entitled Assessing Your Applications - Metrics That Matter Drive Better Rationalization Decisions. I noted similar levels of interest in the companion workbook, Forrester's Application Scoring Workbook, in Q3. Together they indicate that clients have a strong interest in educating themselves on how to streamline and rationalize their application portfolios.

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