It’s the time of year when business apps observers adopt a Janus stance toward market trends. Like the ancient Roman god of beginnings and transitions, analysts look back at the recent past while also peering ahead into the future. Here’s my contribution to that ongoing debate highlighting three areas of enterprise resource planning (ERP) I thought of particular interest in 2012 and in the years ahead. Customers are set to benefit as more ERP deployment options and additional SaaS financials apps become available.
ERP vendors are going all-in with the cloud. Many ERP vendors debuted product or fleshed out their strategies for software-as-a-service (SaaS) ERP in 2012, and further developments are set for 2013. While the focus this year has been on SaaS ERP — and often how a SaaS offering can live in hybrid harmony with its older sibling, on-premises ERP — some vendors also revealed their platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) strategies. When it comes to PaaS, ERP vendors are opening up their own development platform and/or partnering with vendors like Amazon.com and Microsoft. Cloud-focused acquisitions also continued in 2012, notably SAP’s purchase of procurement rival Ariba to help fill out the suppliers pillar of its four-pillar app cloud — the other three pillars being people (HR), money (financials), and customers (CRM).
This case study is from TJ Keitt's and my social business playbook report, “The Road To Social Business Starts With A Burning Platform.” A social business uses technology to work efficiently using a common collaboration platform -- without being constrained by server availability or storage capacity. Here’s the story.
If you've already consolidated dozens of email systems from every vendor and era onto a single managed instance of Exchange 2007, made the shift to support 70 or more state agencies by operating as an ISP, and crunched 20 SharePoint instances down to a single scalable data center, what else is there to do? After all, you've already achieved a high state of IT operational efficiency and process optimization.
If you are Ed Valencia, CTO and Deputy Commissioner, and Tarek Tomes, Customer and Service Management, Assistant Commissioner, the State of Minnesota’s IT department (MN.IT), you step back and ask, “Has what we’ve done really helped the business communicate and collaborate efficiently and effectively?” They knew they could do more by moving their collaboration workloads into the cloud.
So they took a gamble that Microsoft's Office 365 Dedicated offering was ready for the State of Minnesota. Office 365 Dedicated has opened new doors for people throughout the State of Minnesota government. Agencies can collaborate with one another because the common collaboration platform integrates the disparate directories of the different government entities. For example, the Governor can send a message to every agency in the executive branch through this common platform.
Forrester cloud computing expert James Staten recently published 10 Cloud Predictions For 2013 with contributions from nine other analysts, including myself. The prediction that is near and dear to my heart is #10: "Developers will awaken to: development isn't all that different in the cloud," That's right, it ain't different. Not much anyway. Sure. It can be single-click-easy to provision infrastructure, spin up an application platform stack, and deploy your code. Cloud is great for developers. And Forrester's cloud developer survey shows that the majority of programming languages, frameworks, and development methodologies used for enterprise application development are also used in the cloud.
Forget Programming Language Charlatans
Forget the vendors and programming language charlatans that want you to think the cloud development is different. You already have the skills and design sensibility to make it work. In some cases, you may have to learn some new APIs just like you have had to for years. As James aptly points out in the post: "What's different isn't the coding but the services orientation and the need to configure the application to provide its own availability and performance. And, frankly this isn't all that new either. Developers had to worry about these aspects with websites since 2000." The best cloud vendors make your life easier, not different.