The ephemeral composable stack - Infor: The composition complexity conundrum
There’s that strange moment when you walk into an enterprise technology ‘show floor’ after the breakfast, keynotes, handshakes (hand sanitiser application) and the point where you grab a free t-shirt, some complementary lip salve and a small plastic branded widget that you have no idea what you are supposed to do with.
As this is an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) technology show, you naturally expect to see lots of smart people in suits stood around offering to demonstrate how their platform works when deployed in supermarket chains and in offshore oil & gas rig installations.
But then, quite quietly, a group of denim and hoodie-wearing youths file past, drop themselves onto beanbags and nestle themselves over their laptops – you have just entered the Developer Zone.
Actually, obviously, there’s always plenty of programming, software engineering, systems architecture and all-round developer-development inside every ERP company, it just gets a bit overshadowed by the gloss created around the industry-level messages and so on.
Rick Rider, code insider
One man who knows plenty about programming at the coalface of ERP is Rick Rider in his role as VP for applied innovation at ‘industry-specific’ ERP company Infor.
The Computer Weekly Developer Network asked Rider what his take was on the ephemeral composable state of the modern IT stack and he replied as follows… Rider writes from this point forwards…
There is a movement in the industry to expand & broaden service offerings that come in the form of AI, analytics and extensibility acquisitions.
A model for modular creativity
This highlights how organisations see the value in being able compose and orchestrate complete solutions that match customer expectations. The ability for an organisation to allow this sort of modular creativity in-house provides an immense differentiation above other providers.
However, seeing as how everyone is starting to pick up on this trend, the race is on to see how pre-wired and connected these services are from the start of a project.
While developer/programmer teams might wish to build and connect everything themselves, the economics of the modem platform age does not support (or indeed validate) that technology proposition in the long term.
Tasks like egress [data leaving one cloud and perhaps moving to storage or another cloud service], data transformations, compute resources and more across a multitude of providers can rack up a lot of cost in terms of transfer, overhead and administrations.
Therefore then… enterprise software vendors that can offer a foundation for the composable ecosystem can offer tremendous value with incredibly low TCO.
Composition’s complexity conundrum
Composition is more about the ability to stitch complex things together to reduce the overhead of complex tasks. It provides the basis to turn theories into reality quickly, or better yet… instigate a culture of creativity that’s beneficial instead of disruptive. Approaching every piece of technology as a pure-play, separate piece of the puzzle tends to add to the perceived risk that comes along with innovation. Therefore, it creates even more disconnect and resistance between technology and the business.
It means perhaps standardise on the foundation of integration, workflow, AI, data management, etc. so that then you can pick best of breed applications as you wish (and as needed) and so progress towards innovation at lightning speed, without necessarily being dependent on the application vendor.
Finally, an approach that will allow companies to use technology to help them differentiate, instead of merely facilitating the existing business process. However, now done in a way that the business leaders can trust that results will come. Not to mention attract the absolute best talent and create a culture that will make others envious.
That’s where we (as a company and a team) like to focus i.e. providing continuous value-add through technology and giving true meaning to applied innovation.