As an alarming legal predicament builds momentum in the software world, the dangers of a not-quite-dystopian Taco Bell centric future saturated with legal barriers continues to threaten the enterprise landscape, and undermine innovation and interoperability. Litigious quagmires involving software patents and copyrights has become the technology equivalent of the cold war, a mostly silent battle where software titans calculate strategies in mutually assured destruction. Two of those titans, Oracle and Google have been entrenched in a protracted legal squabble involving Application Programming Interfaces (API). One of the primary points of contention is whether API’s are copyrightable, and as a consequence, whether they can be reverse engineered without permission. All of this is happening just as we’re seeing pockets of innovation emerge in largely conventional software markets such as PLM, ERP, ECM, and CRM for which API’s play a central role. Will every innovative enterprise software startup be litigated and fined into oblivion as a result? You’ve been fined $10 million dollars for violating the API Morality Statute. Continue reading
Google, Alphabet, or whatever Chef Boyardee-style nonsense they decide to call themselves in the future have thrown in the towel on an important technology warfront: the battle for social network dominance. As Google+ thrashes about in its deathbed, shedding off functionality such as Google Photos as standalone products, the plan (if there really is one) is that G+ will remain as some kind of social stream and that its core technology will live on as components for other products. Soon enough we’ll have the opportunity to answer an existential question: If a social network gets deleted off the server and there’s no one around to log in, does it make a sound? In the interim, I’ve committed a heinous, unspeakable act for which I previously would infer as requiring frigid temperatures in hell. Well here comes the cold front; I joined Facebook. But my suffering is not in vain -for there’s a larger lesson to be had for those attempting to build enterprise social networks.
Adoption of Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions, present a challenging and often overlooked decision point for the modernization of enterprise applications, a last chance conundrum after which there is no turning back. The point of contention: software updates and upgrades. As discussed previously in They’ve Gone to Upgrade, the common SaaS philosophy of incremental and continuous updates, so popular in the consumer landscape, is presumptively thrust upon an unsuspecting enterprise. The traditional model of infrequent, monolithic updates is fittingly viewed as the work of dinosaurs, to be supplanted by the clear superiority of evolved just-in-time software delivery. The question of software upgradeability is too often a choice between absolutes. Choose the blue pill and the story ends, you wake up next to your old on-premise server instance and believe whatever you want to believe. Or you take the red pill, you stay in SaaS wonderland, and fall right into a rabbit hole of continuous updates. It’s probably time to stop all this enthusiastic pill-popping. Continue reading
One of the central axioms of Product Lifecycle Management is information re-use. Re-use prevents re-invented wheels by capitalizing on product knowledge that predates your particular problem. Provided you find what you’re looking for, of course. That’s where the trouble starts. Most of us know that PLM search is often about as fun as a late afternoon dip in a Sarlac pit. It’s never long before someone begins to lament about the Googlization (that is so not a word) of PLM search, a passing thought usually birthed in the throes of an intense thirty-minute session unearthing the latest funny cat videos from the depths of the interwebs. Why can’t uncovering part information be as easy as finding your favorite quotes from Firefly? There have been many attempts to emulate just that, but they may be missing the point. These aren’t the search engines you’re looking for.
How we work is fundamentally changing, not just in engineering, but across all disciplines involving information management and collaboration. There’s an escalating revolution in enterprise software, where the grand unification dreams of the past are now being set aside. Spoiler alert: there really can’t be one system to rule them all. It’s not that we haven’t tried to forge the one system in the fires of Mount Doom. But in many cases we tried and failed. Instead of a single-vendor monolithic solution, there’s renewed emphasis on specialization within a larger heterogeneous mix of options. Tools in collaboration, communication, and analysis that aren’t bound to their masters like their monolithic precursors, but instead flourish in an alliance of interconnecting and distributed technology. And here we all stand, at the turn of the tide.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way: Google is an innovator. Their domination in advertising keeps the revenue conveniently flowing, and their self-incubating culture affords them the freedom to truly experiment on a variety of technologies or acquire those who do. Some of these technology experiments take off, others not so much. Whether the experiments independently generate revenue is almost secondary – as long as there’s room for it in whatever the current Google vision happens to be. However, such unencumbered innovation has a price: what happens when that vision changes? Google doesn’t like playing second fiddle in any given space for long. Instead of evolving a product like any other company to create an effective self-sustaining business model, Google tends to favor the more dramatic approach once the experiment has run its course: blow ’em out the nearest airlock. Think some aspect of Google’s repertoire is necessarily safe? You might think again, in space no one can hear your disapproval.
Tensions in the larger enterprise war between Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) appear to be on the rise, and the latest battleground is apparently waving the Master Data Management (MDM) banner. The genesis of this conflict stems from the intersection of two different visions, PLM and ERP born from opposite ends of the enterprise. To understand how we got here, check out The Multi-Headed Dragon. Remember how I told you not to taunt happy-fun multi-headed dragon? Well, Multi-Headed Dragon is cranky. Increasingly, it looks like new battle lines are being drawn on the stage of a very old war. An important question to ask: will territory finally be ceded one way or another, or is this just another episode of Bill of Material (BOM) Groundhog Day? Integrations shall be shaken! BOMs shall be splintered! Migrate now to ruin, and the world’s ending! Continue reading
Enterprise software, and the assumptions and paradigms that go with it, are under assault. Consumerized products that find their way into the enterprise are redefining what it means to be an enterprise software application. I was reminded of this very fact just this week, during what has become a rather predictable biennial experience for me: the phone upgrade. The changing of the guard, as it were, sounds rather innocuous, right? Buy shiny new phone, throw old phone into ocean*. Despite my obvious evangelism and appreciation of new technology, the excitement of the moment is always tempered by a little bit of dread. It’s not a fear of change per se, but just trepidation about the consequences of change. With each new phone comes some sort of data migration, analysis of data plans, incompatibilities, interface differences, reconfiguration, re-personalization, various hassling by the carrier, and questions about accessories. Do I need a new case? It’s time to revaluate note and to-do list apps (again). What unspeakable horrors will the new device do to my contacts sync’d in the car? Inevitably, some legacies have to be let go as a consequence of the transition, and new paradigms are adopted. The whole adventure doesn’t cause any acute kidney pain, but it is time consuming. The phone is a mission critical piece of my technological puzzle and the parallels are very apparent. If I were an enterprise, the phone along with my primary PC is my digital backbone. Recalling when I first went from a brick phone to a flip, or a flip to Blackberry, or Blackberry to Android, the reaction was always the same. This is just simply better. With every moment, it’s unequivocally obvious that technology has progressed, significantly. I immediate forget about any concerns – because I sure as hell am not going back. Can we say the same about enterprise software?