my recent reads..

War Dogs

Picked up Michael Farmer's War Dogs from the library the other day. Proved to be a great airport/trip read.

Its the third in a series of "alternate future-histories" set around the middle-east conflicts from Desert Shield onwards.

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Blog Action Day: Enterprise 3.0 - the only one that really matters

Today is Blog Action Day - a day for bloggers around the world to put the environment on the agenda. Look out for tens of thousands of posts on tree planting, cycling to work and sorting your rubbish. And probably some lively coverage of climate change. My little blog here is (supposedly) technical, so I'd better keep my comments on the environment in context.

Prevailing wisdom

I guess it is the prevailing wisdom that IT hasn't got a lot to do with the environment, short of cutting down on office lighting, dealing with toxic waste, and of course any personal contribution IT workers make as everyday citizens of the world.

But things are changing. I've noticed greening of the data center becoming much more prominent in the IT press of late - for example, a recent c|net news article on Squeezing green from the data center. Tackling the data center is probably the most obvious initiative because it is where there is a concentration of power usage (and wastage). Getting green can easily show quick bottom-line benefits.

Greening Enterprise Applications

However, I think there is perhaps a far more significant consideration for IT .. the role Enterprise application vendors should have in providing software that helps companies around the world manage their operations, not only to maximise profitability, but meet their environmental obligations (and hopefully show a bottom-line benefit as a result).

I posted on this topic the other week (Why SOX Won't Keep Your Feet Dry), so I won't rehash all the arguments here.

The bottom line is that I believe over the next few years, we'll find businesses looking to their Enterprise Application vendors to provide the leadership, best practices and solutions to help them manage profitable, green operations. Vendors that can deliver will win, those that can't will get side-lined.

Ironically, it's countries like China, which don't have the best environmental track record, that also have the most to gain, and given their projected growth rates are likely to be at the forefront of this trend. And a good thing that will be too!
NB: I'm at a workshop with a very large company in China this week, so I may have a chance the test this theory with their leaders. Maybe I'll get to post some reinforcement of this view ... or maybe a retraction and a rethink;-)

Rethinking Enterprise 3.0

Justin Kestelyn posted a good wrap of the Web/Enterprise-2.0 dust-up that's been feeding some good discussion in the Oracle blogs of late. But it's easy to lose the historical perspective. When all is said and done, is *2.0 such a big deal?

  • Technically - web apps caught up with what client apps could do a decade earlier. Finally!

  • Socially - the people seized the power of the new technology and began to drive their own agenda. Just as they always do. Remember the 18th century pamphleteers - the bloggers of their day?

I'm going to cast a different point of view here: the *2.0 debate will historically prove to be pretty irrelevant.

What really does matter however is Enterprise 3 - as in, the next stage of IT evolution that recognises software as a vital part of civilization's cability to address the environmental challenges of the 3rd millenia. For the sake of the planet and human society.
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Oracle/SAP Battlelines for the Future Enterprise - take #2

OK, I jumped the gun by about 12 hours when I posted my little pitch on why the battle for enterprise developer mindshare will prove more significant than the recent focus on BI acquisitions by Oracle and SAP.

Now we have the news that Oracle is offering to buy BEA Systems. Long a favourite speculation, its amazing to see it really happen. If this goes through it will basically make IBM and Oracle the two leading Enterprise Java Platform providers.

Certainly Oracle couldn't risk BEA ending up in SAP's hands, and Oracle has long been strategically committed to Java. But holding such a strong hand could be a problem if it leads to a kind of Java-only tunnel vision.
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Oracle/SAP Battlelines for the Future Enterprise

The big news in the enterprise over the past week has of course been SAP's aquisition of Business Objects. While this definitely marks another major milestone in the consolidation of the BI industry, there's some questioning on just how important this will prove to be in the long term.

My personal feeling is that in a few years we may look back and realise that all the BI news obscured the real story of the day ... James Governor's post on Mashing up SAP may appear to be an innocent conference write-up, but could be seen as one of the early shots fired in the ultimate battle between SAP and Oracle for the enterprise developer (dressed up as "Enterprise Mashups" or "Enterprise 2.0" if you wish).

I'm expecting this to be a key battleground over the next couple of years. By 2009, we'll begin to see full convergence of the *2.0/RIA trend along with the componentisation/service-enablement of the ERP suites (call it SOA or SCA). This will herald a new era of enterprise development, where customers will expect to buy and configure standard software components from Oracle/SAP, but then deploy for use within highly tailored and personalised "user-interaction environments" (web pages or portals in today's terminology, but on steroids).

If this is the future, then the application back-end risks commoditisation and the vendor that owns the hearts and minds of the enterprise development community will take the crown. And SIs who make their bacon implementing enterprise applications have had their warning: one day soon you will wake up and the world will have changed. Not ready? Sorry, you're out of business.

In this context, Web 2.0 has just been a warm-up lap for taking on the enterprise.

We can see the battle lines being drawn. I think the Adobe-SAP partnership, which has been getting a lot of positive press of late, may go down in history as way more significant than BO. Events like RedMonk's enterprise mashup track at the upcoming SAP TechEd in Munich continue to highlight their embrace of the rich internet application development community.

I like their theme ... "driving accidental awesomeness" ... the future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed (William Gibson).

Of course, Oracle has not been silent. One could even argue that just like the Hyperion acquisition prompted SAP to move on BO, it was Oracle's vision for Fusion Applications got the ball rolling in the first place. As I've blogged before though, Oracle appears to be a little slow to embrace the implications for enterprise developers ... that is, until Oracle AppsLab hit the scene.

Oracle has done a great deal to attract diverse developer audiences (from PHP to .NET to an interesting category of "non-PHP scripting languages"), but this is generally not applications-related. Of course it's own application development strategy currently remains firmly committed to Java and ADF in particular. What will be most interesting is how we see Oracle incorporate the needs of (non-ADF) "mashup" developers as Fusion Applications become concrete.

So in one sense it appears Oracle and SAP are pursuing diametrically opposed strategies - SAP hunting for communities to "adopt" and build (like Adobe), whereas the Oracle approach is perhaps a bit more like "build it well, and they will come". It will be interesting to watch this one play out ...
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