Monday, January 02, 2006

My Favorite Prediction

I've read quite a few predictions for 2006 - and my favorite - by far - was penned by David Heinemeier Hansson. His prediction on enterprise software follows:

4. 'Enterprise' follows 'legacy' to the standard dictionary of insults favored by software creators and users. Enterprise software vendors' costs will continue to rise while the quality of their software continues to drop. There will be a revolt by the people who use the software (they want simple, slim, easy-to-use tools) against the people who buy the software (they want a fat feature list that's dressed to impress). This will cause Enterprise vendors to begin hemorrhaging customers to simpler, lower-cost solutions that do 80% of what their customers really need (the remaining 20% won't justify the 10x -100x cost of the higher priced enterprise software solutions). By the end of 2006 it will be written that Enterprise means bulky, expensive, dated, and golf.

What David identifies is the growing distinction between classes of applications in the enterprise. Many, if not most, applications in the enterprise DON'T NEED TO BE ENTERPRISE GRADE. The function that they perform - isn't that important, doesn't require .99999 up-time, DOD-grade security, etc.

But let's get serious - Dell isn't going to be running its order management system from some Web 2.0 SaaS startup - nor will e-Trade be hosting customer financial data in some "non-enterprise" way. People who don't do enterprise development don't understand enterprise development; there are a million blogs out there to prove this. An enterprise can lose more money in one day because of a system outage than the combined revenue of every SaaS / Web 2.0 company combined.

Before 'enterprise Java', the term 'enterprise' referred to the scope of the deployment - not the architecture. 'Mission Critical' was the term we used to indicate a high degree of architectural integrity. David (and many others) are continuing to restate the obvious: we need multiple levels of architecture: light, medium, heavy. We need architectural profiles for each level. Our enterprise architecture teams MUST NOT force one design center for all application classes.

Is there a place for RoR, Spring, RSS, etc. in the enterprise? You bet. Will light weight solutions eat away at their heavy-weight counterparts? Yep. Is the 'enterprise' grade solution going to mean "bulky, expensive and dated" in 2006? Well, yea - it has meant that for years!

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