The Long tail of Apps wags, powered by PaaS

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Over the last few years, I have been witness to many a decision that the CIOs & business apps owners take on putting their money.

We already know about the Capex (Capital Expenditure) v/s Opex (Operational Expenditure) from a financial management front.  Businesses have always been looking for ways to balance out their cash flows by assessing their Capex and Opex needs; by the time it comes down to IT, the Capex-Opex balance is also looked upon from a cost center perspective, making it even more difficult.

However, it also involves the balancing acts between two key aspects of apps management around business need. Various organizations would have different choice of words to describe them –

  • Grow the Business (GTB) / Strategic Applications / Innovation oriented IT investments etc. – which has to do with focusing on new lines of businesses, disruptive additions to the functional aspects of these apps, typically boils down to looking beyond the horizon of immediate needs of current business.
  • Run The Business (RTB) / Tactical or Operational Applications Maintenance / Keep the Lights On (KTLO) / Business as Usual (BAU) etc. – which has to do with ensuring that the routine business operations are not disrupted, applications continue to be available and performing, the status quo doesn’t change by much from an IT and business routine standpoint.

What’s noticeable is the amount of money and effort that goes into the RTB or KTLO side of Application Management. Recession and hardships in business typically moves the focus to these. This is where all those legacy, technologically outdated applications continue to thrive. No one wants to touch them. And the reasoning goes beyond just disruptive nature of the initiatives that attempt to attack them.

The main problem is that if they are not at the core of the IT operations focus, IT doesn’t seem to have the energy and leeway to care about them, beyond keeping them up, available and running. Sometimes, when the underlying technology is big enough, and gets outdated and has a wide base, there are forced into initiatives to migrate them but that ends up becoming a long hard journey, typically led by the middleware and application development platforms – again translating into high capex.

Among those applications, there’s a breed of applications that can be best described as Long tail Apps. (Chris Anderson famously invented the term Long tail in the context of the new business models around “more of less” as against “less of more” few years back. Read about it here if you want. But, I’d advise not going there since that context can potentially move you away from what I’m driving at.)

I’ve embedded here the slides that I uploaded yesterday on the Long tail Apps – should take five mins, this one I urge you to have a look!

The story is simple yet a little not-so-straightforward –

Platform as a Service (can also read underlying Cloud) enables the application management of all those Long tail Applications that have until now remained a painful ghost set for all practical purposes. And if you notice the visual, business domain focused, rapid development characteristics of the underlying technologies of these Long tail Apps, there’s no doubt that new age PaaS technologies are a boon.

Long Tail of Apps will finally wag, PaaS will enable it, and power it!


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  1. #1 by c4cube on May 1, 2011 - 7:43 am

    Throughout this awesome pattern of things you actually get a B- with regard to effort. Exactly where you actually lost me personally ended up being in the specifics. As they say, details make or break the argument.. And that could not be much more correct at this point. Having said that, permit me say to you just what did give good results. Your article (parts of it) is definitely pretty persuasive which is probably why I am making an effort in order to comment. I do not really make it a regular habit of doing that. 2nd, whilst I can easily notice the leaps in logic you make, I am definitely not certain of exactly how you seem to unite your ideas that make the actual final result. For the moment I will subscribe to your position but wish in the foreseeable future you link your dots better.

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