July 15, 1996
Enterprise applications are at the crossroads of objects and the Internet
Katrina Garnett is president of a software company so new that it has no
profits, no revenues, no products. For now, potential customers are signing up
as investors, so Garnett can avoid venture capital. What's really amazing,
however, is that CrossRoads Software Inc. has not gone public yet, and, if you
can imagine, Garnett travels without a URL.
CrossRoads ( 372-1410) is designing tools for integrating enterprise
applications -- apps developed internally and apps developed by the many hot
new enterprise app vendors.
Although Garnett has no tools to sell right now, she's out selling the
usefulness of object and Internet technologies among enterprise apps. She
recently shared her slides with me over lunch in Boston.
Garnett spent her past six years at Sybase Inc. She left as general manager
of a 285-developer, $150-million distributed objects and connectivity
division. Her teams developed replications servers and object databases, as
well as messaging and wireless, interoperability, and Internet middleware.
Before Sybase, Garnett worked for four years in the Unix, workflow, and
groupware divisions of Oracle Corp.
Garnett and her husband, Terry, are renowned for the secrets they kept from
one another while they were vice presidents of Sybase and Oracle, not
respectfully but respectively.
Well, according to Garnett, make-vs.-buy decisions in enterprise application
development are trending toward buy.
Internet companies are hot, but so, too, with slightly less publicity, are
enterprise application companies.
With Garnett's help, I've collected some of their URLs. Just slap http://www.
before and .com after each of the following corporate domain names.
Anyway, under "enterprise resource planning" you'll find Baan, Oracle,
PeopleSoft, and SAP. Under "supply chain optimization" are i2, Manugistics,
and Pepper. Under "customer service" are Clarify, Remedy, and Scopus. Under
"sales force automation" are Aurum, Siebel, and Vantive. And under "finance"
are Dodge, HySoft, and SQLFinancials.
Now, in buying enterprise apps comes the familiar question: Is it better to
buy an integrated set from one vendor or to buy best-of-breed apps from each
of several vendors?
Larger vendors argue (surprise!) that integration is best, so buy exclusively
from them. Smaller vendors argue for their best-of-breed apps. Buying
best-of-breed heightens your need for cross-vendor integration tools.
Of course, even if you buy your apps from one vendor, they need customization
and integration with internally developed apps, sometimes requiring hundreds
of consulting programmers who never seem to finish and go away.
Many app integrations are accomplished at the underlying database level. But
these are brittle. They break with changes in the apps, and they bypass the
very business rules that your new apps were developed to enforce.
So, among enterprise app vendors, the latest trend is toward exposing their
APIs. APIs make it easier to customize purchased apps and to integrate them
with internal apps. APIs also make it easier for small vendors to integrate
their best-of-breed apps into installations of large vendors.
And now, Garnett brightens, enterprise APIs are making it suddenly possible
for CrossRoads to develop tools for the systematic integration of applications
-- integration based on object technology, preserving business rules,
eliminating custom software, and preparing for the gradual projection of
enterprise apps out onto the Internet.
For each application, CrossRoads will provide an object wrapper -- software
that brings the app's useful business objects out onto the enterprise network.
Customer objects, employee objects, and product objects, for example, are
then tied together over the network through integration servers. The tying is
done with graphical object connecting software. Such software can later be
used to tie the objects of one enterprise to those of another.
Many enterprise applications are being moved from vendor-specific client
software running on Wintel clunkers over to Web browsers running on Wintel
clunkers. So moved, many enterprise apps will eventually be upgraded to the
coming "Wintelless" Internet computers.
And because Internet technology is being used to connect API object wrappers
and integration servers, these connections are capable of reaching out beyond
their intranets, connecting enterprises to one another and to their consumers
out on the Internet.
Yes, Garnett's emerging enterprise application vendors are likely drivers of
what we all, with our fingers crossed, have vaguely been calling Internet