Web Time Gets Real with Software Services

SAN MATEO (06/26/2000) - Consider how long the computing model has been a barrier to your business. From the days of centralized hosts that had an ironclad clamp on data and processing to client/server's complexity and rigidity, businesses goals have been regularly compromised by the architecture of technology -- but not for much longer.

Ushered in by the Internet and key standards such as XML, companies have an opportunity to completely rethink how they run internal operations and go to market with IT-backed initiatives. The benefit of the latest computing wave -- software as a service -- is time to market.

By adopting an IT infrastructure that effectively taps into a growing number of Web-based services, businesses will be able to collaborate with partners on the fly, procure services faster than they can be developed in-house, and ultimately meet customer needs faster and easier.

For this to happen, though, the dominant IT vendors, which essentially set the technology agenda, must start listening to customers. And there are signs it's happening.

Much as Microsoft Corp. belatedly "got" the Internet in late 1995, last week it finally articulated a strategy for how consumers and businesses will subscribe to interlocked Web services accessed from multiple devices. A chorus of vendors betting their business on the software-as-service model are hopeful that Microsoft tools mean the creation of more services.

And as if to underscore the death of the desktop PC-centric view of computing, Transmeta Corp. next week will seek to steal the limelight at PC Expo as its OEMs show off a range of consumer and corporate mobile devices.

Ultimately these changes mean that the operating system is no longer the central decision in your computing architecture. With interoperability and speed the key attributes in e-business, a platform should be judged on its ability to deliver your business's applications and integrate with third-party Web services.

Is the software-as-service model right for you?

Write to me at martin_lamonica@infoworld.com.

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