When you look at the recent press statements from SAP’s CEO Henning Kagermann, he states that the big multi-million dollar deals are over. Software companies do not sell thousands of licenses per deal but only a couple of hundred.
For me, those two independent facts indicate the same trend: The era of monolithic and large applications is over. Like dinosaurs, they vanish from earth. Customers request small business applications, easily integrateable, easily customizable and, if so required, disposable. And they want the tools to build that kind of application.
Business applications are becoming more and more disposable, like disposable cameras. You shoot 30 pictures with them, develop the pictures and throw the camera in the garbage bin afterwards. You use the business application for a certain time and then its purpose is accomplished.
Similarly, many businesses experienced a change in how work is done. Projects are not done by one department with a fixed structure, but by project teams that are formed with members from different departments, often located in different regions of the world. After the end of the project, the team is dissolved and the team members head to new projects.
For application development this poses a challenge. Not the super-generic and all-in-one application suitable for every purpose is required, but the just-right-for-this-project application. A project duration can be very short, like, let’s say, 2 or 3 months. If you need a special application for this project and go the classical way of: meet with the IT-department, discuss, and specify it, then quickly half a year is over and you haven’t even started the implementation of the application. But your project is already over!
What is needed is the following:
- A toolset that allows you to build business applications in a quick way.
- Enable the project team members to develop their applications on their own.
- Allow you to upgrade, customize or simply dispose of the business application.
- Help to archive and reuse the data from such an application without the need to maintain the application.
With SAP NetWeaver and Composite Application Framework, SAP is enabling developers and non-developers also to do this. SAP NetWeaver offers the technologies and integration, CAF offers a rapid business application development toolset. Short-running applications can also be quickly developed, whereas of course long-running and scalable applications are in the main-focus (as expected).
The only challenge lays somewhere else: get this paradigm-change into the minds of the people…