SaaS Applistructures Deliver On The Promise Of Tying Web 2.0 to Enterprise 2.0

by Ray Wang.

Walking out of the Salesforce.com event on Tuesday the 10th had me thinking about the promise of Web 2.0 for the enterprise via middleware, SaaS platforms, and this notion of applistructure. The thing that really struck home was not the utility computing model that Marc Benioff rants and raves about, nor the great drag-and-drop content management capability of Koral that was being demo'd. What struck home more than anything was how applistructure was taking shape via SaaS and how quickly SaaS could deliver Web2.0 capabilities to the enterprise.

Okay, let me take a step back, what's applistructure? Well, applistructure refers to the boundary blurring between business applications and infrastructure software. Originally coined by Ken Vollmer of Forrester (Giga) in 2003, the term is shaping up, especially with the rise of middleware platforms (e.g., IBM WebSphere "Blue Stack", Oracle Fusion Middleware "Red Stack", Microsoft VS.Net "Rainbow Stack", and SAP NetWeaver "Blue and White Stack") that are doing everything from being the appserver, delivering BPEL, modeling business processes, addressing content management, providing business intelligence, coordinating master data, solving identity management, etc.  SaaS itself is an applistructure and as these applistructures take hold in the enterprise world via middleware, the SaaS vendors including SFDC, NetSuite, and Workday, have the best opportunity to deliver on most of the collaborative aspects of Web 2.0.

Unfortunately for most enterprises, not much of the Web 2.0 impact we feel here in the Valley has made it into the mainstream middleware platforms. In fact, recent announcements of Lotus Quickr, SAP's end-user widgets, Microsoft Office 2007, and Oracle Web Center show slow to moderate progress in this arena. Hot for Web 2.0 for years have been tagging, mash-ups, social network, participation architectures, and the spirit of the individual and wisdom of the tribe. Though we're starting to see wikis, blogging, and RSS become the new collaboration standards for enterprises its really been the SaaS movement that's driving Web 2.0 adoption into the enterprise.

Similar to the shift in attitude on utility computing and the simplification of licensing and pricing to cost/user/month, I think we can count on SaaS to be the game-changer again. I eagerly await to see what other Web 2.0 innovations like the Koral acquisition by SFDC will make its way to the likes of SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, and IBM in this emerging solutions centric software world order.

Tech quote: "Life is like an outer join, you never know what row to expect..."
Real life thought: “If software vendors built airplanes, would you dare to fly?”

R “Ray” Wang | Principal Analyst | Forrester Research, Inc.

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Warmest regards,

-R

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