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Who "CAN" provide enterprise apps?

The SaaS blogosphere has been abuzz these last couple of days discussing Sergey Solyaniks assessment that Googles culture is not fit for enterprise apps. Well say up front that Appirio runs our internal communication and collaboration using Google Apps, and have helped customers big and small do the same. We have been highly impressed with the quality, reliability, and rate of innovation in these tools, admire and respect the culture that created them, and have no hesitation calling them enterprise ready.

But we think that with all this talk about Googles corporate culture, people are missing the real pointthe culture of todays traditional on-premise technology vendors is no longer enterprise ready.

Let me explain-- we believe that there is a cultural mismatch between the needs of todays businesses and the cultures of traditional on-premise technology providers:

Todays business needs agility, the culture of enterprise technology is anything but. As the global pace of change accelerates, business leaders need their IT staff and SI/ISV partners to be saying a lot more yes and a lot less no. It is no longer acceptable for an IT partner to make vague promises about a release 3 years out. When a CIO asked Hasso Plattner at the Churchill Clubs SaaS debate when he should move to SAPs SaaS solutions, he was told to check back in 5 years, at least. Is that what it means to have an enterprise ready culture?

Todays business needs openness, the culture of enterprise technology is anything but. Traditional enterprise vendors have in their very DNA the idea that openness is dangerous to their business models. Businesses in all industries have accepted the notion of core vs. contextyou focus on what you are good at and rely on seamless connections with a network of partners to provide the rest of your solution. Ironically, traditional enterprise software is one of the last industries to embrace this change. One of Hasso Plattners key lessons from SAPs ill-fated experiment with SaaS is that what is inside the system has to have a coverage level which is close to 100 percent, he says. Openness will be there in name onlythe intention is that everything you need is inside the system. Such a system has never existed, and never will. Is this what it means to have an enterprise ready culture?

So what does it mean to have an enterprise-ready culture? Of course, every traditional enterprise vendor wants to be agile and open, and many have made admirable strides in that direction, including SAP through its Developer Community and eSOA initiatives. And there is much more required to deliver enterprise solutions than agility and openness. There are the table stakes of reliability, security, and having a solution that meets a real business need. But todays business requires IT partners with a culture that can do both-- be deeply rooted in agility and openness while delivering reliability, security, and business value. We think that Google and, the leaders in on-demand, have achieved this goal: Salesforce offers both AND Google offers highly innovative applications that scale like no traditional enterprise application will ever be able to.

But whether or not you agree with us that Googles corporate culture is enterprise ready," the real point is that its traditional on-premise competitors are most certainly not.

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