Enterprise System Spectator blog: ERP and enterprise system vendor evaluation, selection, and implementation.

The Enterprise System Spectator

Monday, April 23, 2007

Salesforce.com unbundling its platform from its apps

Over the past few years, salesforce.com has been gradually morphing itself from an on-demand CRM vendor to a platform for software-as-a-service (SaaS) generally. It started by first allowing extensive customer-specific customization of its CRM applications and integration with legacy or third-party systems. Then it provided a complete development environment, including test capabilities separate from production. Then it opened up its SaaS platform to third-party developers to write complementary applications. This week it announced the next logical step: it is allowing customers to buy access to its platform without buying its CRM application.

Salesforce.com Platform Edition allows customers to take advantage of other applications in its AppExchange marketplace, or, it allows customers to start from scratch and write their own custom applications. Details on Platform Edition are on the salesforce.com website.

The evolution of salesforce.com further enhances software-as-a-service as a viable alternative to traditional on-premise software. The only drawback to this approach I see is that it ties the entire IT infrastructure of the customer to salesforce.com. If you think vendor lock-in is a problem today with traditional vendors, such as Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP, imagine what it will be like when your entire technology stack--from hardware, OS, database, and application--is tied to a single provider.

I'm a big fan of SaaS, but I still haven't figured out how to get around the vendor lock-in problem.

Related posts
IT services in a SaaS world
Salesforce.com to allow customization of its hosted service
Salesforce.com's AppExchange proving its viability for developers
Computer Economics: The Business Case for Software as a Service

by Frank Scavo, 4/23/2007 07:36:00 AM | permalink | e-mail this!

Subscribe!

Read/post comments!
(3) Links to this post

Sunday, April 15, 2007

IT services in a SaaS world

Chris Barbin makes the case for a new kind of systems integrator, uniquely focused on implementation and support of software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions. In his article on Sandhill.com, he writes about these "Services 2.0" providers that are "dramatically altering the system integrator (SI) landscape."
This new breed of specialized firms fully embrace SaaS with complementary business and technology consulting, productized intellectual property, and support services via flexible social networks will be disruptive to traditional Global Systems Integrators (GSI)- such as Accenture, IBM, Cap Gemini, and Infosys – who are just as addicted as the ISVs themselves to revenue streams based on the on-premise install base.
Now, Barbin is CEO of Appirio, which just happens to be an implementation services provider for SaaS vendor Salesforce.com, so it's not as if he is a neutral observer. Nevertheless, his argument is persuasive. Large global implementations of major on-premise systems such as SAP and Oracle, supported by large global service providers, such as IBM, Accenture, Cap Gemini, Infosys, and others, are notoriously expensive, difficult, time-consuming, and risky. If SaaS solutions, such as Salesforce.com, Omniture, and SuccessFactors offer to diminish the pain associated with on-premise solutions, then by extension, there must be a service-provider approach that diminishes the pain of the traditional implementation effort.

Drivers of Services 2.0
Although SaaS as an viable alternative to on-premise software has been around for at least seven to ten years, it is only recently that this new breed of service providers have sprung up to provide an alternative to the traditional system integration approach.
For early adopters of SaaS ISVs like salesforce.com, initial services requirements were limited to basic configuration, end user training and minor customizations. In the last few years, services requirements have become more substantial because the increased flexibility of platforms like Salesforce have allowed enterprises to move from single-department SaaS "experiments" to global rollouts of thousands of users.
In other words, as platforms such as Salesforce.com's have become more powerful, allowing customization and easy integration with third-party solutions, the opportunity for additional value-added services has grown. These include creation of "mash-ups" that combine SaaS-system functionality with Web 2.0 services, such as Google Maps and other web-services in unique combinations. The sheer scale of some Salesforce.com implementations, reaching tens of thousands of seats, has also increased the need for extensive system integration services around SaaS.

Customers benefit greatly from the combination of SaaS with Services 2.0: faster implementation, more customized solutions, and much lower costs. Barbin says,
The pendulum has swung from the early ERP days ($10-$15 for every dollar in licenses), to the SMB days of SaaS (10 cents for every dollar in subscription) - and will settle for enterprise customers at $2-4 for every dollar of subscription license revenue.
Threat to the Big System Integrators?
Barbin makes the case that the large IT service providers will not be able to make the transition to Services 2.0. "The reliance on mega-transactions, considerable corporate overhead, and inability to move quickly will hamper these firms’ ability to lead in the Services 2.0 world," he writes. "These firms are fully dependent upon the services revenue generated their customers’ lock-in on on-premise software."

In this respect, Services 2.0 is a disruptive innovation to the big system integration firms, just as SaaS is disruptive to the major on-premise software providers. I doubt it will be the death of IBM, Accenture, and Infosys, but watch for growth in system integrator deals to be elsewhere in the coming years.

Related posts
Major ERP vendors battle Salesforce.com for SaaS mindshare
Salesforce.com to allow customization of its hosted service
Salesforce.com's AppExchange proving its viability for developers
Computer Economics: The Business Case for Software as a Service
SAP and Salesforce.com: opposing application platforms

by Frank Scavo, 4/15/2007 12:14:00 PM | permalink | e-mail this!

Subscribe!

Read/post comments!
(0) Links to this post

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The economics of open source

Dirk Riehle has written an interesting paper for IEEE on the economic motivations of stakeholders in open source software. Riehle leads the open source research group at SAP Research, a research organization within SAP that identifies emerging IT trends and conducts R&D activities for new technologies. As such, Riehle's insights are interesting in that they may reflect the view toward open source within SAP.

There are a wide range of business models within open source. Reihle points out that there are actually two main forms of open source: community open source (products that are owned and developed by a community of developers) and commercial open source (products that are owned by a single commercial organization). The Apache web server is an example of community open source, while MySQL is an example of commercial open source.

Three stakeholders
He then goes on to analyze the economic incentives of open source from the perspective of three groups of stakeholders: system integrators, software vendors (closed source and open source), and individual developers/employees.

Of the three groups, system integrators stand the most to gain from open source. Open source takes out a large part of the system integrator's cost structure, the part that goes toward software. This frees up money for the client to spend on additional services, or allows the system integrator to lower its price-point, making its services more affordable and increasing volume. System integrators prefer community open source, because its cost is lower than commercial open source, and there is no "vendor lock-in" to the owner of the software.

There's a lot more in Reihle's paper, including an analysis of the impact of open source on the software developer profession. In short, open source "makes life more complicated for employees." On the one hand, a developer supporting an open source product can be more easily replaced by an outsider that has similar experience with the same product. On the other hand, a good open source developer can build expertise that has value to other employers, increasing his or her marketability. He writes,

A developer who chooses the right project can gain and maintain a position that will increase salary-negotiation power and job prospects. The developer will enjoy those benefits as long as the project is of significance to potential employers.

Open source reinforces the trend toward employees becoming "free agents."
Winners and losers
Reihle's article does a good job in explaining the economic incentives by open source. To me, it makes it easy to understand why IBM--which is today largely a services firm--is one of the strongest proponent of open source, especially community open source.

It also suggests why many traditional vendors of closed source products seem to have such a hard time with profitability these days, leading to the huge amount of acquisition/consolidation activity we've witnessed in the past five years. Unless you are an 800 pound gorilla (like Reihle's employer, SAP), the cost-structure of closed source development is just not a good way to make money. In many markets, it might just be better to embrace some sort of open source development and make money higher up the value stack, in maintenance, support, integration, and customization.

I think we are still early in the development of business models around open source. Ten years from now, things will be clearer.

There's a good discussion on Slashdot, on Reihle's article.

For another good piece on the economics of open source, see Bruce Perens's article, The Emerging Economic Paradigm of Open Source.

Related posts
The disruptive power of open source
Why organizations choose open source software
Key advantage of open source is NOT cost savings
Open source: turning software sales and marketing upside down
Compiere's open source ERP business model and growth plans

by Frank Scavo, 4/14/2007 10:40:00 AM | permalink | e-mail this!

Subscribe!

Read/post comments!
(0) Links to this post

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Lawson upbeat on Q1 forecast

Well, maybe Harry Debes was right. Back in January, Lawson's CEO wrote me to say that his firm's financial performance was better than observers were giving it credit for.

Now, in forecasting its first quarter earnings, Lawson said today that it expects Q1 revenue to come in at $190 to $192 million, well above its previous forecast of $181 to $190 million. After the announcement, Lawson's share price peaked at its highest point since March 2004, finishing the day about 10% higher that the previous day's close.

Lawson is still digesting its 2005 acquisition of Intentia, and related costs are still impacting financial performance. From an accounting perspective, organizational perspective, and technical perspective, I have a feeling that the merger job was bigger than Lawson expected. Hopefully, Lawson can put that work behind it and move on to build even more momentum. Although I wasn't able to attend Lawson's user conference down the road in San Diego this year, I did hear about some good things, including a tighter reliance on IBM for Lawson's technical architecture, which frees up Lawson's resources to focus on business applications.

It will be interesting to see the details behind Lawson's performance when the final numbers come in. I'll be looking to see whether the results are due to a pick up in new deals or a change in the rate of deferred license revenue, which Debes explained in his correspondence to me in January. If Lawson's new deal flow is picking up, it would be a good sign not only for Lawson but for the enterprise system market in general. Lawson's results would be consistent with Oracle's most recent quarter, which were outstanding, and contrary to SAP's, which were weak.

We'll have to wait until April 9 to find out, however. Lawson announced yesterday that it is delaying its quarterly report because of a need to review restructuring charges from the Intentia acquisition.

Related posts
Lawson's performance better than it appears: CEO
Did Oracle just drain its pipeline?
SAP license sales grow, but short of target
Lawson acquiring Intentia

by Frank Scavo, 4/03/2007 02:48:00 PM | permalink | e-mail this!

Subscribe!

Read/post comments!
(0) Links to this post

Powered by Blogger

(c) 2002-2014, Frank Scavo.

Independent analysis of issues and trends in enterprise applications software and the strengths, weaknesses, advantages, and disadvantages of the vendors that provide them.

About the Enterprise System Spectator.

Frank Scavo Send tips, rumors, gossip, and feedback to Frank Scavo at .

I'm interested in hearing about best practices, lessons learned, horror stories, and case studies of success or failure.

Selecting a new enterprise system can be a difficult decision. My consulting firm, Strativa, offers assistance that is independent and unbiased. For information on how we can help your organization make and carry out these decisions, write to me.

For reprint or distribution rights for content published on the Spectator, please contact me.


Go to latest postings

Custom Search

Join over 1,700 subscribers on the Spectator email list!
Max. 1-2 times/month.
Easy one-click to unsubscribe anytime.

Follow me on Twitter
My RSS feed

AddThis Feed Button


Computer Economics
ERP Support Staffing Ratios
Outsourcing Statistics
IT Spending and Staffing Benchmarks
IT Staffing Ratios
IT Management Best Practices
Worldwide Technology Trends
IT Salary Report

Get these headlines on your site, free!


Awards

2013 Best ERP Writer - Winner

Alltop. We're kind of a big deal.
 
Constant Contact 2010 All Star Technobabble Top 100 Analyst Blogs


Blog Roll and Favorite Sites
Strativa: ERP software vendor evaluation, selection, and implementation consultants, California
StreetWolf: Digital creative studio specializing in web, mobile and social applications
Vinnie Mirchandani: The Deal Architect
Si Chen's Open Source Strategies
diginomica
CISO Handbook


Spectator Archives
May 2002
June 2002
July 2002
August 2002
September 2002
October 2002
November 2002
December 2002
January 2003
February 2003
March 2003
April 2003
May 2003
June 2003
July 2003
August 2003
September 2003
October 2003
November 2003
December 2003
January 2004
February 2004
March 2004
April 2004
May 2004
June 2004
July 2004
August 2004
September 2004
October 2004
November 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
December 2007
January 2008
February 2008
March 2008
April 2008
May 2008
June 2008
July 2008
August 2008
September 2008
October 2008
November 2008
December 2008
January 2009
February 2009
March 2009
April 2009
May 2009
June 2009
July 2009
August 2009
September 2009
October 2009
November 2009
December 2009
January 2010
February 2010
March 2010
April 2010
June 2010
July 2010
August 2010
September 2010
October 2010
November 2010
December 2010
January 2011
February 2011
March 2011
April 2011
May 2011
July 2011
August 2011
September 2011
October 2011
November 2011
December 2011
January 2012
February 2012
March 2012
April 2012
May 2012
June 2012
July 2012
September 2012
October 2012
December 2012
January 2013
February 2013
March 2013
May 2013
June 2013
July 2013
September 2013
October 2013
December 2013
January 2014
February 2014
March 2014
April 2014
May 2014
June 2014
July 2014
Latest postings