Network Computing is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Note to Vendors: Keep It Simple

Biggest Movements

Some of the biggest movements in IT -- Web services, utility computing, open source -- are at once a welcome byproduct of, and a vulgar assault on, the customer need for simplicity and value.

The "build versus buy" application decision is being augmented by a more flexible, less costly service-oriented approach whereby IT pros integrate and manage various software components. Outsourcing and other service contracts are tied to the IT resources customers actually consume, not to what they think they'll consume at the time they sign on the dotted line. Commodity Linux systems are replacing proprietary Unix at some shops, as enterprises break free of lock-in pricing and broaden their ISV support. It's ironic that Google, known as a tech innovator, strings together thousands of white-box servers in its data center rather than rely on high-end systems, a mundane approach that nonetheless does the job at a fraction of the cost.

But vendors will be vendors, so they're simplifying or repositioning their products only as much as they think they must without really reducing their reliance on sales of big, pricey systems. SAP, with its mySAP and NetWeaver platforms, is breaking its enterprise applications into more easily manageable chunks. Siebel Systems, still known for the multimillion-dollar CRM suites it sells to the largest enterprises, also offers a hosted product that starts at $70 a month. Sun Microsystems is extending Solaris to commodity Intel servers and is pledging to expose the operating system to open-source development. BMC Software, Computer Associates and IBM Tivoli say their management software will help enterprises align their IT resources to critical business processes rather than just alert technicians when the network acts up. Of course, most IT professionals remain skeptical of all these pronouncements, but at least vendors are making an effort.

It's interesting that Oracle, a vendor known in the past for pushing over-the-top software solutions, is now run by a former critic of IT overspending. As a managing director with Morgan Stanley before joining Oracle as president several years ago, Charles Phillips estimated that U.S. companies threw away $130 billion on unneeded software and other IT during the two-year bulge of the tech bubble. "People kind of viewed it as black magic, so why understand it?" Phillips told USA Today in 2002.

  • 1