IBM Rolls Out iTunes-Like Store For Enterprise Apps
April 16, 2012 Alex Woodie
Part of the IBM PureSystems launch last week was something called PureSystems Centre, an iTunes-like portal where people can browse various enterprise applications that have been vetted to run on the PureFlex and PureApplications systems. You can even click on a “Get it now” button for a quick download and install, just like getting Angry Birds on your iPhone or iPad. While the mobile app store concept doesn’t quite translate to the enterprise space, PureSystems Centre forecasts a more intuitive enterprise app shopping experience, and serves as a vehicle for giving ISVs a seat on IBM’s SmartCloud.
Angry Birds Space dominated the Twitterverse with more than a million downloads a day last month. But in the future, could it be Manhattan Associates‘ warehouse management system (WMS) or Infor‘s enterprise resource planning (ERP) system that sets the IT world on fire with a surge of online registrations, new subscriptions, and new users?
Not quite. After all, enterprise applications are a lot more boring than Angry Birds. Serious (and sometimes angry) people use ERP and WMS for work-related stuff, like keeping track of pallets of dog food as they are transported across the country, matching outgoing invoices with incoming checks, and complying with the auditor’s latest esoteric accounting rules. Getting an ERP or WMS upright also involves a bit more work than hitting the “download” and “install” buttons in the correct sequence. They are also a tad more expensive.
But the comparison isn’t that far off. “It’s not quite as simple as Angry Birds or Tiny Wings or your favorite gaming app. But it is exceptionally simple,” Ed Abrams, a vice president of sales and distribution for global business partners and the mid market, tells IT Jungle. “It is really something that is point, click, and load capable because of what we have done with this whole idea of patterns of expertise.”
IBM has analyzed how enterprise applications are installed in thousands of IBM customer sites around the world, noted how much memory, disk, network bandwidth, and processor capacity they take, and distilled that into its “patterns of expertise.”
“We have therefore been able to, in many ways, have the system anticipate that installation for customers, and therefore really take the time it takes to load an app, to build an app, and configure an app down from weeks and weeks and weeks, to basically a couple days,” Abrams says. “Your provisioning time is down 98 percent.”
Point, Click, and Load
Visitors to www-01.ibm.com/software/brandcatalog/puresystems/centre”>the PureSystems Centre website will find more than 150 applications from IBM and third-party ISVs that are “optimized” to run on the new PureSystems servers, including the PureFlex systems (which use Power7 and X86 processors and run operating systems and hypervisors) and the PureApplications systems (which only feature X86 processors and are preloaded with DB2 and WebSphere).
You will find familiar names in the PureSystems Centre catalog, including Fiserv‘s Premiere, an IBM i-based core banking platform; the HarrisData Manufacturing ERP system from HarrisData; various enterprise packages from Infor, including Infor 10 ERP iEnterprise (LX) (formerly BPCS) and Lawson M3; the WebFOCUS business intelligence software from Information Builders; various development and prepackaged applications from LANSA; the MedSeries4 healthcare management system from Siemens Medical Solutions; IBM i high availability software from Vision Solutions and Rocket Software; and the S2K ERP system from VAI.
These applications are encapsulated and quantified in patterns of expertise. There are 62 third-party patterns that are optimized to install and run the apps on the PureFlex platform, which is the only PureSystems system that can run IBM i. IBM says that customers will be able to be “quickly up and running” with the pattern of expertise “after a simple download” to a PureSystems server. The software…er, pattern of expertise…can run either at the client site, hosted by a partner, “or run in a public cloud environment on the IBM SmartCloud,” IBM says.
What’s more, IBM says the application “can move from on premise at the client site to the cloud.” This is a big deal, and one that is definitely not available on IBM i today. AIX and Linux running on Power Systems have a feature called Live Partition Mobility (LPM) that enables an application environment to be easily moved among clustered machines, without much muss, fuss, or downtime. LPM is not currently available for IBM i, but it is expected to be announced, at long last, by IBM as part of the upcoming IBM i 7.1 refresh, as The Four Hundred reported back in February.
Time to Get Angry!
While cheeky comparisons between Angry Birds and ERP systems are fun to make because of the vast differences, there is a common theme at work here. Namely, the enterprise software model–including the shopping experience, the trials, the licensing, the implementation, the use, and the ongoing management–has to change to survive in a cloudy world.
The success of enterprise software as a service (SaaS) and cloud ERP and CRM vendors like NetSuite, Salesforce.com, and Workday–let’s call them the Angry Enterprise Apps–is putting pressure on the traditional, on-premise enterprise software model, and the traditional, on-premise enterprise software vendors are starting to take notice.
The traditional enterprise software model–let’s call it the Fat Dinosaur model–has to get a lot more like iTunes and Angry Birds to survive. The ERP selection, licensing, and deployment process is way more complex (and expensive) than it should be, and as the Angry Enterprise Apps improve in functionality, they will poach the precious eggs away from the Fat Dinosaurs. IBM’s PureSystems Centre is one stab at the type of iTunes model that will allow the Fat Dinosaurs to transition into Angry Enterprise App vendors, and succeed in the SaaS and cloud future.