Making Web 2.0 enterprise ready

A tag cloud with terms related to Web 2.

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As web 2.0 and social media applications become more mainstream, enterprises will also begin to realize the value of these applications and begin to demand these types of applications within their walled gardens.

Companies like Yammer have already begun taking a Twitter-like model to the enterprise and there are bound to be other companies that will model themselves after familiar social media apps/concepts and sell direct-to-enterprise or in a SaaS model.

However, in order to do so, these companies will need to consider the laundry list of requirements that will be imposed on them by enterprise IT departments, IT security teams, and business owners.

A recent post to the nextNY mailing list got me thinking about this topic, which I have reposted here (along with my response).

Here is the original question:

I am trying to access if a software product is enterprise ready or
not? Is there a checklist of things/capabilities out there to
determine if a software is mature enough to be enterprise ready?
Basically looking for a software quality validation template and/or a
software process validation checklist.

This is for a client-server sort of software product (not a web
application or website).

Are there any 3rd parties that certify a software product for
enterprise readiness/maturity?

And here is my response:

I don’t know of any official standards as most organizations tend to use their own set of criteria when evaluating an enterprise software product for purchase.  Usually, a customer will propose a set of functional requirements (e.g. an RFP) when they’re looking to buy software, or verbally work with a salesperson from the software company/channel partner to scope out their needs.

Some things (this is very high level but you can drill down from here) that tend to come up frequently during an enterprise sales cycle:

– security and compliance (including but not limited to authentication, auditing capabilities, SOX, HIPAA, etc)
– fault tolerance (is the product robust and stable and can it recover from errors, etc)
– business continuity (is the product capable of being backed up, restored, etc)
– performance (requiring specific application response times)
– support model (24x7x365, onsite vs offsite, etc)
– supportability of entire solution stack, not just your product (e.g. your software is supported by other vendors’ products and vice versa) and or meaningful partnerships with the other vendors in the ecosystem
– integration w/application or network management frameworks used by app ops or network ops teams
– viability of company as a going concern

The degree of importance of each of these factors will vary from customer to customer and across product types.

For instance, if a customer is buying database software that is the backend for a business critical app then they’ll probably want 24×7 support (and maybe even onsite support) while if its software to support testing of applications maybe they’ll only need 8×5 support.

The bottom line is that any web 2.0 companies who want to play in the enterprise space will need to have answers for the various questions and buckets I’ve outlined above.  And having good answers to these questions likely means having a very different business model and organizational structure from what they have today.

I wonder if we’ll see a future where some web 2.0 and social media companies actually convert into a strict SaaS or enterprise software model because they find it to be a bigger opportunity than what’s available on the consumer Internet?

Stranger things have happened…

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