When famed investor and entrepreneur Marc Andreessen declared that "software is eating the world" a few years ago, he was reflecting on the number of different examples of software disrupting the way industries work - from AirBnB to Netflix, from Uber to a host of e-learning platforms, we're seeing organizations look at what they do through the lens of software.
But one thing that those within the software industry tend to gloss over is the fact that it's actually pretty hard to build software. if you're a traditional organization in a non-technology industry, building software is still too difficult for you to really comprehend becoming a software company. So you revert to type and carry on approaching the way you do things in a traditional way. In doing so you miss an opportunity to really move the needle on what you do.
So it is always interesting to read about new attempts to democratize software development. Today's example is an integration between Acquia and hybris (and, yes, for some reason that lower case first letter of its name is intentional). Some explanation about what these two vendors do is probably in order. Hybris is an SAP company that provides customer engagement and commerce solutions. Customers like 3M, Asics and Bridgestone use hybris to "maintain and grow a profitable customer base." Hybris sits along SAP's other solutions to give a holistic view across customers.
For its part, Acquia is a "digital experience company." What that means in plain English is that it offers commercial support for Drupal, the open source content management platform. Acquia tends to deliver its commercial services (the Drupal platform itself plus developer tools and support) to larger enterprises. So a tie-up with SAP, itself a vendor to big companies, makes sense.
The essence of this partnership is that hybris, in collaboration with Acquia, will launch new cloud-based microservices that will allow businesses to deliver digital experiences reportedly "as easily as a smartphone user might download apps to a personal device." According to the release, together, Acquia and hybris make it possible for brands to deliver contextually relevant digital experiences via the cloud.
As can be expected from a partnership announcement from two large software vendors, this deal is heavy on superlatives and light on details. According to the two companies, this new approach is going to occupy "the gap in the overlap between Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS)." It seems that the deal will see customers able to create micro applications based upon not only data from hybris and Acquia, but also third-party and competitor applications.
I always worry when a press release says something like "...offers the market a state-of-the-art microservice architecture upon which to develop an ecosystem of SaaS applications and services." It is a statement that uses a large number of words to say very little. Essentially what is going on here is that Acquia is creating a customer-usable storefront that will allow organizations to market and sell small applications based upon hybris and other solutions' data.
As such, it feels a little bit like the contextual apps approach that Capriza is taking - allowing large enterprise solutions to become more responsive to the mobile needs of customers.
While this concept makes sense, I have little faith that this is, at this stage, any more than a marketing initiative. The technology press is awash with stories of failed large-vendor partnerships and the wording of this release, the companies involved, and the market dynamics all lead me to the conclusion that this is no different.
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