November 24, 2020

Enterprise hits and misses – IBM spins off a legacy business, ERP vendors get a re-platform debate, and hybrid SaaS gets its due

Lead story – Don’t be a ERP re-platform sheep – or a pure SaaS sheep either.

MyPOV: Two diginomica stories challenged buyers not to accept the status quo.

Start with Kurt’s When – and why – hybrid SaaS might be a better option. Kurt critiques SaaS multi-tentant purists. Architectural options have become more nuanced – opening up SaaS possibilities in regulated industries, for example.

I believe that’s a win for customers, but it does require grasping what’s under the hybrid SaaS hood. Kurt:

A better SaaS alternative is a hybrid model in which parts of an application, such as the Web UI, mobile interface and administrative console are delivered from shared infrastructure while the backend databases and business logic run on dedicated infrastructure. For example, Generis CARA, a content management SaaS that targets highly regulated industries like life sciences and financial services provides two classes of service that vary the mix between shared and single-tenant resources.

Kurt also critiques Brian Sommer’s prior multi-tenant advocacy, though Sommer’s views have evolved since that piece. Doesn’t matter – the debate is healthy. My beef is software partners (and some vendors) that take advantage of “hybrid cloud is cool” to lift-and-shift legacy software, depriving customers of a more sophisticated approach to changing their business model – and modernizing their software (with a new level of discipline over custom code). That’s not what Kurt is talking about – but not all buyers are reading this column (maybe by next week).

Which brings us to Brian Sommer’s Don’t be a sheep – challenge the call to re-platform ERP. Brian uncorks so much whoop-ass vinegar in this piece, he won’t have any left to baste his Thanksgiving turkey. Brian urges buyers: think twice before you re-platform your ERP software again. He calls out ERP vendors:

What’s even more amazing is the sheer gall of software vendors to charge your firm for, in effect, an all-new license/subscription fee for essentially the same solution. Yes, it has a new ‘platform’ under it but isn’t that what the decades-long maintenance payments were supposed to pay for?

Ouch! Another huge point: don’t let anyone conflate platform change with business transformation:

Vendors and vendor marketers often lack real business transformation stories. They might have some re-platform stories to share but real earth-shattering transformation pieces are as rare as hen’s teeth.

Brian and I debated this piece before publication – that would make a fun podcast. Bottom line: customers need to take a position on business transformation. Then choose the right tools, and correct ERP strategy for that plan – with no obligation to upgrade.

Diginomica picks – my top stories this week.

Vendor analysis, diginomica style. Here’s my three top choices from our vendor coverage:

A few more vendor picks, without the quotables:

Jon’s grab bag – Chris picks up the AI ethics debate in Transparent truths about AI ethics – assessing a seven point set of principles from Capgemini. How does he explain the rising trust in AI documented in the report? Humans are scarier than machines:

Policymakers may blame ‘rogue algorithms’, but the root cause is dumb or dishonest decisions at the management table.

Speaking of administrative incompetence, I knew Den would blow a major gasket over this glaring case of UK spreadsheet abuse project failure: Excel and COVID-19, a marriage made in hell:

Is this the spark that will finally get people off their addiction to the spreadsheet – or at least consign its creation to those who actually know WTAF they’re doing?

I wouldn’t count on it…

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

Lead story – IBM spins out its infrastructure management biz, and the pundits react

MyPOV: IBM stole a few moments from the post-democratic circus political media junk machine this week. As Ron Miller reported in As IBM spins out legacy infrastructure management biz, CEO goes all in on the cloud:

While IBM’s cloud revenue is growing, its market share needle is stuck and Krishna understands the need to focus. So, rather than continue to pour resources into the legacy side of IBM’s business, he has decided to spin out that part of the company, allowing more attention for the favored child, the hybrid cloud business.

Initial reaction to this spinoff was (mostly) favorable, including Wall Street. Over at the often-wary UpperEdge, Greg Hall liked what he saw also (IBM Divestiture: Who Does it Really Impact?). But IBM still has a lot to prove. Hall:

The challenge for IBM will be increasing its market share in cloud spending… But resources aside, will IBM be able to sell companies on the value of its hybrid cloud software and solutions offerings?

Not everyone is gushing at IBM’s decision to focus on cloud infrastructure growth. For a skeptical take, look no further than long-time IBM critic Charles Fitzgerald ( IBM’s “Cloud” Business (or Lack Thereof)). Fitzgerald’s title says it all – he sees “cloudwashing” in play, and breaks out his reasons.

Hard to argue with IBM’s decision to focus – feels less like breaking news than the inevitable. Whether it’s true public cloud services or a proprietary mishmash, well, customers will help to settle that one – with their wallets.

Honorable mention

Whiffs

Who says the karmic system is broken? Tourist returns stolen artefacts from Pompeii ‘after suffering curse’. Yeah, there’s been a lot of strange sports-related stories this year, but this one has to be up there: Ian Rapoport was indeed suspended for an Manscaped Lawn Mower sponsored Instagram post.

Meanwhile, this is what passes for innovation on Twitter during election season:

The techdrunk competition has a clear winner this week:

And yeah, the CPT-3 ML text generator is a bit craftier than I thought. I still don’t think it can write a convincing essay, but short-form? It can wreak some disconcerting havoc, including a bunch of Reddit upvotes on a thread about suicide:

Finally, this one stung:

Subversion is a posture; the finest rebellion is the pursuit of mastery. As for the rest? Hard to be bothered. Or, in more timeless VH fashion:

Have you seen junior’s grades?

If you find an #ensw piece that qualifies for hits and misses – in a good or bad way – let me know in the comments as Clive (almost) always does. Most Enterprise hits and misses articles are selected from my curated @jonerpnewsfeed. ‘myPOV’ is borrowed with reluctant permission from the ubiquitous Ray Wang. 

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