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“Appification” of Enterprise Architecture

As an avid iPad user, and one of the marketing guys driving SAP Business ByDesign, I’m quite familiar with the concept of adding “apps” to my “platform” – point pieces of functionality that easily install with  a simple purchase and installation.

Jon Reed’s recent review of SAP TechEd Las Vegas left me pondering something he felt was key to HANA’s success:, “HANA is also going to need an apps ecosystem to succeed”. Jon expressed a feeling about HANA as a platform that I think is a new level of requirement for enterprise architecture in general – that users will now be expecting new functionality in “apps” to be instantly delivered.

First, let me say, I’m in the marketing department at SAP, and not in the architecture team that’s part of HANA.  So, this is my own observation, NOT a statement of delivery from SAP.

This idea about “apps” is a fundamentally new level of engineering for delivery of enterprise applications than in the past. It requires that a platform be in place, and it requires a simple buy and install paradigm.  It also implies ease of user adoption, but I’m not sure that we have a standard for enterprise “app” usability yet.   Users will be expecting Facebook/Farmville ease of adoption, which suggests that such apps need to facilitate collaboration and be fun to use.

Outside of Jon Reed, I haven’t heard of anyone calling for this as a new standard for enterprise architecture, but I think that it is. Anything less than an iPad experience for adding new functionality is no longer acceptable to users.  The problem is that existing enterprise architecture for many companies is nowhere near as responsive.  And many enterprise applications provided by ISVs require a large consulting engagement to install and customize. This, of course, does not include the many custom applications that companies have to manage. 

Cloud platforms such as the ByDesign platform upon which SAP Business ByDesign and the Line of Business applications like SAP Sales OnDemand are based have the capacityto quickly add additional point functionality.  Centered on something like the SAP Store, companies can create an IT managed means for purchasing and installing new apps onto their platform, or if such app is already purchased, to add users.

Such a capability is also very useful for companies that want to develop custom applications. Having an always up to date ERP application such as SAP Business ByDesign to develop against makes agile development a lot more viable.

I have another blog brewing on a changing IT methodology related to this new paradigm, but wanted to get this current thought out first.

Apps for the enterprise are coming. But you need to engineer a means for this delivery to exist.  A cool blog would be for someone specify  the necessary ingredients that need to be in place for an enterprise IT practice to be able to support applification. And, I think it needs to be described in detail the kind of engineering an application needs to have in place to be delivered quickly as an “app”.

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  • Hi Greg,
    Nice blog to keep the discussion going!

    May look like a plug to some, yet as Jon also mentioned in his ‘monster’ blog that some of his thoughts (he expressed so eloquently and to the point as always) incorporate findings from a late-night talk we had in Vegas I hope its ok…

    So, I know you were 5 min late into my session, yet exactly that idea is the beginning of my SAP TechEd session CD111 🙂

    I’b be happy to add to the “consumer-grade apps on the enterprise-scale od platform using whatever capability/programming language to get all developers onboard and attracted by the idea to repeat the mobile consumer story in the enterprise space based on SAP” discussion from the java platform’s POV 🙂

    Keep it up Greg!
    BR, Matthias