Altabel Group's Blog

Archive for September 2010

Time passes by but one of the oldest dilemma in IT keeps getting more complicated as new options emerge. Should you license a commercial enterprise application that looks like to meet 75 % of your needs? Or would it be better to build your own application that suits you as much as possible?

Through years of trials, errors and analysis a consensus conclusion has been crystallized out: “Buy when you need to automate commodity business processes; build when you’re dealing with the core processes that differentiate your company.” But have reality ever been so orderly? Afraid no. In fact companies face a lot messier and more interesting choices.

Build-versus-buy decision factors are as follows: cost, time to market, politics, architecture, skill sets, and strategic value. Commercial software may boast shorter time to market and lower maintenance costs than big in-house development projects. Complicated homegrown systems may handle difficult and specific tasks. The third character on the stage is SaaS, their offerings may also fit the strategic plans of an enterprise. So, what’s better?

“As vendors saturate the market from general-purpose CRM to the narrowest vertical solution, the economic pressure to buy and consolidate (or subscribe and let a SaaS provider deploy and maintain) continues to mount.” When time-to-market and money are top priorities IT execs evaluate commercial software first. No doubt the more standardized you are and the more you buy off-the-shelf, the more cost effective it will be for both implementation and ongoing maintenance.” Here it’s extremely critical to thoroughly understand total costs during the software lifecycle, typically 7-8 years, due to the fact that 70 % of software costs occur after implementation. Very often an in-depth lifecycle analysis that realistically estimates ongoing maintenance by in-house developers tips the balance in favor of buying.

On the other hand, executives from MCI, for instance, say: “Where we tend to invest is where we can get incremental revenue … or competitive advantage.” Many modern enterprises have recast their in-house development efforts within an SOA, enabling them to reuse rather than build from scratch. “Part of the decision is to look at your legacy applications and analyze what legacy you have that still has business value.”
Also the build decision has to be taken when the solution should be of such strategic and specific area to the business that commercial apps never enter into the discussion. In this case it’s better to follow agile development methodologies that allow you keeping cost down.

Now it is definitely to the point to talk about open source that enables a hybrid approach combining purchased and custom-built components. It’s sort of “getting the best of both worlds [of buying and building]”, as they say at Visa.

Still as far as open source is concerned there is the thing you should keep in mind. Although open source implementations invite all sorts of customization, ERP wars of the ‘90s have taught a clear lesson: When it comes to commercial software, avoid hacking the system when possible. The advice from MCI execs says to rather adapt your business processes in the not-unique areas (e.g. sales, financials, etc) to off-the-shelf software.

As an alternative to customization you may also turn to aftermarket products, like plug-ins, for instance. Try to avoid touching the main package and it will keep your maintenance costs down.

If to speak about SaaS, such kind of vendors typically lets customers pick and pay for functionality in modular fashion, versus licensing packaged software functionality. Additionally, SaaS incurs no hardware or software capital investment and so drives maintenance costs lower.

Lately market situation has also pushed some commercial software vendors, such as Oracle, SAP, and Siebel, to stick to the approach makes the buy decision more viable. This is possible due to using SOA, because in SOA business processes are broken down into coarse-grained application components, which begin to be standardized, commoditized and offered individually.

Personally I believe in IT world the majority of companies, especially large ones, use a wild mix of all these approaches and the line between build and buy is blurring more and more with the course of time. And what is your experience? What factors and conditions determine your choice in favor of this or that approach? I am very interested in hearing your point of view on the topic.
Thank you in advance,

Helen Boyarchuk
Altabel Group

In today’s mobile world, Netbooks and iPads are trying to find their place. Will one push out the other?

In fact these are two completely different devices with different operation. Netbooks are good for those who need just email web surfing. The iPad has higher potential due to its more powerful innards.

It’s obvious that tablets are trending to be the main device that common users will use to browse the web and perform many simple functions. A Netbook will still have its use, as the ergonomics of a plain keyboard will be more useful for those who not only browse the web, but do word processing and email. We should also keep an eye on handwriting recognition technology, as that will determine just how much a tablet like the iPad will be able to replace low end PCs in the future.

Depending on the organizational needs, one could make a case for just one or both. Most Netbooks for example, will come with a version of Windows allowing you to run almost any Windows application directly on the device. In terms of iPads, you are limited by what is available in the AppStore. Each has its place in the world; however, you need to fully understand the organizational needs before picking one or both for the environment.

And maybe, Netbooks will be swamped by iPad and the Android Tablets will become an irrelevant marginalized segment by 2013? Even today, the iPad is a better device for almost every task one might use a Netbook (web/email/music/video/games) for. It is definitely better as an eBook reader or web-surfing device.

Best Regards,
Kristina Kozlova
http://www.altabel.com

When we talk about touch screen-only Tablets, the first device coming about is the iPad. It is an awesome device in many ways. When iPad was launched earlier this year, it was pushed as a device to innovate the way we use our computers.

The popularity and success of iPad naturally spawned many different manufacturers to bring similar devices to market.

Samsung has recently officially presented the Galaxy Tab, its eagerly awaited 7-inch Android tablet. But how does it match up to the Apple iPad, which has set the standard for slate computing? Maybe there are several areas where the Galaxy Tab is superior.

While the iPad is still the most desirable tablet computer available, the Galaxy Tab will provide some stiff competition. Samsung’s device can’t match the iPad for screen loveliness or battery life. But it steps up the technology battle by including a built-in camera and expandable memory.

With Android rapidly improving and Samsung currently producing some of the best mobile hardware on the planet, the prospects for the Galaxy Tab look bright.

What are your thoughts on this topic?

BR,
Kristina
http://www.altabel.com

The correct answer to that question depends entirely on a set of services you need your phone to provide.

If you are looking for a phone with abilities to access corporate applications, exchange email, SAP etc., synchronize data and information, web browsing and MS office integration, then you should look at the Windows mobile phones. There are a lot of available applications for that OS. In my opinion, the best WM phones are produced by HTC; they have a wide range of models from the really stylish ones to the really tough ones.

If in addition to that, you would like to assure advanced communication and collaboration between your users, then the best thing to do is look for a Blackberry. For these purposes it could be the best option with lots of applications and extended communication possibilities.

Finally, if you just want to provide an intelligent enough mobile phone, with internet access, mail access and files synchronization, then you can look at Android phones, Iphone or Nokia Phones.
This question is still open. It is hard to single out one device which could be the best one for all users and IT as a whole. It all depends on your need and not all IT need their cell phone for the same apps ;)

Best Regards,
Kristina Kozlova
http://www.altabel.com

Lately standards-based multimedia features offered by HTML5 have taken the spotlight from proprietary technologies, such as Silverlight and Adobe’s Flash. Still Silverlight has a purpose in the wake of HTML5′s emergence. Moreover, so far Silverlight capabilities has exceeded those of HTML5, according to Microsoft.
To put it simply, on the Web the purpose of Silverlight has never been to replace HTML; it’s to do the things that HTML (and other technologies) couldn’t in a way that was easy for developers to tap into. According to Becker Silverlight offers advantages in such areas as high-definition video, content protection, 3-D video, and smooth streaming.

At Microsoft they believe HTML5 will become ubiquitous just like HTML 4.01 is today. Microsoft has committed to backing HTML5 in its upcoming Internet Explorer 9 browser and has partially leveraged it in Internet Explorer 8 as well.

But still the company is working on donating test suites to help improve consistency between implementations of HTML5 and CSS3. Here the thing is that these technologies have had issues with variations between browsers.

“HTML5 and CSS 3 are going to make this worse for a while as the specs are new and increase the surface area of features that may be implemented differently. In contrast, since we develop all implementations of Silverlight, we can ensure that it renders the same everywhere,” – they say at Microsoft.

As for the moment Microsoft has shipped four major versions of Silverlight in about half the time that HTML5 has been under design. Silverlight has become more than a browser technology, with Microsoft investing in desktop, mobile and living room capabilities for the technology.

For HTML5 to be really targetable, the spec has to stabilize, browsers have to all implement the specs in the same way and over a billion people have to install a new browser or buy a new device or machine. That’s going to take a while. And by the time HTML5 is broadly targetable, Silverlight will have evolved significantly. Meanwhile, Silverlight is here now and works in all popular browsers and operating systems.

So, what do you think of these technologies? Which is more perspective in nearest future and which are you going to stick to then?

Eager to hear your professional point of view. Thank you in advance.

BR,
Helen Boyarchuk
http://www.altabel.com


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