Eis abaixo um post (em duas partes: a parte I é complementada com a parte II mais abaixo) do blog www.crmbuyer.com sobre uma tendência que está vindo para se tornar padrão em TICs: PaaS – Platform as a Service (Plataforma como um Serviço).
Companies are finding that one of the best ways to foster interest in their applications is to distribute SDKs and let developers have at them. A growing trend toward delivering Platform as a Service capabilities means that mashups have sprung up in the thousands, making the notion of old-fashioned software customization seem almost quaint.
Earlier this month Zuora, a startup that’s less than a year old, launched Z-Commerce, a platform that gives developers access to its applications as well as Z-Force’s API (application programming interface) documentation, sample code and toolkits. There is also a sandbox environment, currently available in private beta.
A few years ago, this might have seemed like an overly ambitious undertaking for small company. Today — thanks to developments in the Software as a Service space — it has become almost expected.
Those developments were fueled by Salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM) , which in 2007 introduced its Force.com platform to third-party developers so they could build apps that integrated with its existing services. This move was a runaway success for Salesforce.com. Since then, not surprisingly, it has been duplicated in various ways by other vendors.
Salesforce.com hardly deserves all the credit, though. Social media, the advancement of Web 2.0 in the enterprise space, and Web services in general have all contributed to the development of next-gen customer relationship management applications that are far more open and able to incorporate dynamic, third-party information.
Also, to be fair, there were other vendors experimenting with this approach around the same time — although not at the same scale. Salesforce.com, though, was inarguably the best at promoting it, mirroring its success a decade ago selling the SaaS delivery model.
Vindicia, for example, opened its CashBox billing platform to developers three years ago, enabling them to build their own applications in one of six programming languages, noted Vindicia CEO Gene Hoffman. CashBox provides a standards-based API for automatic subscription-based and one-time billing services.
Hoffman is not surprised that this model is gaining traction: “CRM and other software companies are increasingly encouraging developers to build applications on their platforms and to distribute those applications online as a turnkey solution,” he told CRM Buyer. “In addition to the distribution and ecosystem benefits for developers, this Platform as a Service model offers vendors an opportunity to expand their reach with developers.”
There are, however, limitations to this approach. “Salesforce.com certainly is on the mark, making its application open and ready to integrate. Doing that advances the value proposition of any Platform as a Service,” Francis Carden, founder of OpenSpan, told CRM Buyer.
“But CRM applications in any form might only represent between 10 percent to 30 percent of an enterprise’s core legacy application set. The rest might be financials, shipping, inventory control and the like — split among mainframe, Web, Windows native, Java , even virtualized applications. Even if a CRM Platform as a Service comes ready to work with some of these, there are often many legacy applications with no obvious APIs or other integration points, and little IT appetite or budget to approach them, he explained.”
Service-oriented architecture, or SOA, was one integration promise, but changes to existing SOA take time and can be expensive. “Thus, true enterprise-wide desktop integration remains a challenge,” said Carden.
Still, the contrast between what was possible a few years ago and what even small companies can do today is remarkable.
BatchBlue Software, for example, opened its BatchBook application development platform to partners and users in early January 2009, CEO Pamela O’Hara told CRM Buyer.
The public API allows both customers and partners much more flexibility when working with the BatchBook application, including a more streamlined tool for sharing data with other applications, she said. “For example, one customer used the BatchBook API to migrate their CRM data from another application into BatchBook. A BatchBlue partner is using the API to develop a tool that all customers can use to sync profile information with a popular social media network.”
Many CRM vendors, in fact, are taking advantage of applications that providers of corporate data are offering, such as Jigsaw.
Last year Jigsaw launched its Open Data Initiative, an open source program that allows vendors to import or preload its data into their own applications. Since then, vendors such as NetSuite, Oracle, Sage, SugarCRM, Entellium, Landslide and Maximizer have inked partnerships with the company to incorporate its data into their own applications.
These, of course, are mashups: Web applications that combine data from one or more sources — usually outside the original application or database — into a single integrated tool.
While their use has become ubiquitous, many companies are not aware they are using them, Yankee Group analyst Sheryl Kingstone told CRM Buyer. “When we query users we ask about mashups and they either don’t understand what the term is or they say they are not interested — but when we dig a little further, they are obviously using them.”
Their value, though, is clear. “There is a lot of data stored in a variety of places — whether in third-party social networks or CRM databases,” Denis Pombriant, principal of Beagle Research , told CRM Buyer. “It is very helpful to be able to seamlessly access the information as if it were all part of one database.”
For instance, many mashups focus on “perennial pain points.” he continued.
The integration of dynamic contact information into a CRM application, for example, address a sore need for this functionality on the part of sales and marketing staff, said Pombriant. “Rather than company databases becoming obsolete, social networking mashups have the potential to keep them up to date. Having these capabilities gives us the opportunity to let our imaginations go wild.”
Indeed, the mashup capabilities with third-party data represent only the tip of an iceberg.
Stay tuned for Part 2.
The PaaS Era, Part 2: Who’s In It All the Way?
By Erika Morphy
Part of the ECT News Network
02/27/09 4:00 AM PT
The PaaS trend is still in its infancy, but it has gained so much popularity already that vendors are scrambling to let developers experiment with their applications. Not all PaaS vendors are alike, though. Some offer limited mashup-creating capabilities, while others — NetSuite, Oracle, SugarCRM and SalesLogix, for example — really let devs get their hands dirty.
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Part 1 of this two-part series describes the emerging trend toward Platform as a Service (PaaS) offerings and touches on how some vendors are experimenting with this model in the customer relationship management software space.
Open development platforms and their offspring — mashups — are behind the significant changes in CRM functionality that have been introduced over the last year or so. These are early days for Platform as a Service, though, and each vendor is approaching the technology on its own preferred path.
Following is an overview of who’s doing what in this space, focusing on the major vendors whose roots are in CRM. Clearly, there are other major providers: HP (NYSE: HPQ) , for example, has been offering Software as a Service for more than eight years now and recently launched a Platform as a Service offering.
Also, the number of vendors that have opened their architecture enough to allow developers and users to create mashups is too large by far to mention all of them. “There are a lot of permutations out there,” Yankee Group analyst Sheryl Kingstone told CRM Buyer.
Those that offer limited access are on the lower end of the Platform as a Service industry spectrum, according to Kingstone.
“The higher value-add offers have actually opened up their platforms,” she noted. Although there are few companies that meet the fully open criteria, Kingstone believes their numbers will grow.
NetSuite is one example. It introduced its own version of a development platform in 2008. In contrast to Salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM) , however, it based its Business Operating System, or NS-BOS, on open standards.
The application includes SuiteFlex — NetSuite’s platform for customization, verticalization, integration and business process automation — and SuiteBundler, capabilities that allow independent software vendors to deliver vertical solutions to SaaS customers in a packaged, repeatable manner.
Omnify Software, Configure One, SuiteCommerce, and SPS Commerce are among the NetSuite ISVs and VARs (value-added resellers) that have used NS-BOS.
Oracle On Demand
Then there are the companies that have opened their applications up to allow users to create their own mashups. Some are more flexible than others, bordering on mini platforms in their own right.
Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL) On Demand is one example. Oracle is still maintaining and expanding the on-demand CRM application it inherited with the acquisition of Siebel. However, it has also introduced mini applications — or “gadgets,” as Oracle calls them — that are essentially highly advanced mashups.
It first introduced mini-applications that provide enterprise data and service leveraging Web 2.0 content last November, along with the application’s Version 8.1.1 rollout.
Generally speaking, their purpose is to improve the user’s productivity, mainly through leveraging Web 2.0 content such as corporate information, public data or personal information from social networking sites. Indeed, one of their key selling points is the ability to quickly access information without having to launch a browser or log onto a corporate network.
Other gadgets are available in Contacts, Accounts, Deal Management, Search, Sales Quota and Sales Prospector. Oracle also introduced Oracle Mobile Sales Assistant, a mobile app add-on with features designed to make life easier for on-the-road sales reps — getting driving directions to an appointment via PIM (personal information management), for example.
In fact, “with release 16 of Oracle CRM On Demand, we’re seeing a push to offer some of the similar things that Salesforce.com did with Force.com,” said James Brehm, senior consultant with the information and communication technology practice at Frost & Sullivan .
“It’s not quite the same thing as offering a platform as a service, but does give end users more control and customization capabilities,” he told CRM Buyer. “Who knows what could happen with the next offering?”
Sugar Data Center Edition
SugarCRM ratcheted up its open source bona fides last year with its own development play, Sugar Data Center Edition. It bundles existing software, systems management , monitoring, subscription and license management tools, as well as activity reports, so partners and customers can control the deployments.
It allows developers and partners “to create, manage and monitor cross-instance reporting of entirely different versions of SugarCRM,” Martin Schneider, the company’s director of product marketing, told CRM Buyer at the time.
The company recently enhanced this functionality with new tools and features introduced at its global developer conference earlier this year. It launched a new Web services framework and mobile customizations and rolled out connectors linking third-party data to Zoominfo and CrunchBase. Users can tap them as lead generation engines or for use in sales or marketing activities. It already offered connectors for Hoover’s (Nasdaq: HOOV) JigSaw and LinkedIn .
This latest wave of innovation has given SugarCRM a significant boost, Denis Pombriant, principal of Beagle Research , told CRM Buyer.
For its version 7.2, which debuted in spring 2007, SalesLogix rebuilt its architecture using standards-based, scalable Web technologies that set the stage for the company to expand in a number of directions. The offering includes its own version of mashup capabilities.
SalesLogix uses Representational State Transfer (REST) Web services to request data via embedded URL-style addresses to enable Web applications including Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Maps, Jigsaw, LinkedIn and Zillow.
For example, using REST, a CRM application can access inventory data in an enterprise resource planning application from a Web browser. This data can be made available to third-party applications and services as well.