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David Kelly

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PowerBuilder: Article

Achieving Adaptability Through Application Servers

Achieving Adaptability Through Application Servers

However boring it might be, I believe that infrastructure is the key to e-business success. More specifically, it's having (or building) an adaptable application and IT infrastructure that can adjust to new business needs and competitive challenges over time, thus providing a competitive advantage for the foreseeable future. Keeping up with the competition is no longer good enough. Business success is now predicated on effectiveness, or how quickly and successfully companies can customize their applications and IT infrastructure to provide more effective and higher-value interactions with customers and prospects.

The metric for success has switched from simply becoming an efficient company to becoming the most efficient and the most effective. Traditional IT investments and planning have focused mainly on efficiency - being able to automate back-end processes, personal productivity and line-of-business tasks. But in today's Internet world, with competitors only one click away, companies are being forced to compete on effectiveness, adaptability, personalization and customization.

Return on Opportunity (ROO), Hurwitz Group's measure for e-business effectiveness, categorizes and quantifies the business impact of technology, process and organizational investments. Hurwitz Group research has shown that the most successful companies generate the highest ROOs, typically through adaptable applications and IT infrastructures. The companies that can quickly empower their employees, customers and suppliers through enterprise portals, dynamic applications or adaptable business processes will be the winners.

Application servers, the buzzword of 1999, are one of the most popular approaches to building such a business architecture. Serving as a standards-oriented, middle-tier repository for business logic and a connection to enterprise resources, application servers provide the link between the years of investment in inwardly focused enterprise applications and business processes and the brand new markets, consumers and supply nets that are driving our 21st-century economy.

Sybase's Enterprise Application Server (EAServer 3.5) is an excellent example of an application server that provides the bridge between existing legacy systems or applications and the new markets and application requirements. By utilizing multiple component formats, including EJB 1.0, COM/ActiveX, CORBA and PowerBuilder nonvisual objects, it provides an organization with the ability to leverage existing applications and technology while using Java (and other languages) to create new applications. While multiple-component-model support is important, an organization's ability to easily define, deploy and manage components is critical if it wants a truly adaptable application. Again, EAServer's visual management tools for administering and monitoring applications and components enable developers to easily configure and deploy multiple types of components. E-business success not only means being able to develop and deliver new applications in a timely manner, it also means being able to deploy them reliably and robustly to meet the ever-increasing demands of an increasingly browser-powered economy. EAServer addresses these requirements through important architectural pieces such as the component transaction server (formally known as Jaguar), and the newer Java Transaction Services (JTS) and Java Transaction API (JTA).

Companies must begin to plan their businesses, IT architectures and applications around their ability to adapt business processes or applications to new market opportunities. Application servers such as Sybase's EAServer have emerged as an important enabler for building the adaptable applications that are required to capitalize on these new opportunities and drive new revenues (and hopefully profits!) into an organization. E-business success will be dictated by an organization's ability (as determined by its technical and organizational architecture flexibility) to take advantage of new opportunities and proactively exploit changes in marketplaces.

Reprinted by permission of Hurwitz Group, Inc.

More Stories By David Kelly

David Kelly is the founder and President of Upside Research, Inc. Over the years, David has been a vice president of strategic marketing for a dot.com-era VPN services company (OpenReach), a senior VP of analyst services for an industry analyst firm (Hurwitz Group), a developer (Intellution), a consultant (Custom Business Systems), a writer (from the New York Times and Boston Globe to Computerworld), and a sought-after speaker and industry spokesperson. In addition to translating the implications of technologies, new digital devices and enterprise software into practical recommendations for consumers, companies and technology vendors, David is an accomplished travel writer and author of children's books.

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