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The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

Multi-platform strategy, and the case to master it

Aditya Srivastava & Rajat Bhargav
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Aditya Srivastava & Rajat Bhargav
A Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) Application Platform, or simply platform, is an infrastructural software for building composite applications. A platform integrates an application server which manages user requests, data access, and business logic with portal servers and integration or business process management servers. Some advanced platforms even include the user portal. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) vendors have been rolling out their platforms in recent years.

In today’s global business environment, the real-time enterprise must bring all of its data and processes together if it is to meet the dynamic needs for visibility, planning, collaboration, and execution in the extended supply chain. Even with the introduction of modern ERP systems, companies have grappled with finding easy ways to implement new business processes and integrate their data and legacy systems into the chosen vendor’s platform.

Obstacles to platform unification
The biggest hindrance is also the very problem that the platforms are meant to address. The IT landscape in any organization has multiple systems utilizing multiple technologies provided by multiple vendors. This diversity has its roots in the path to automation as well as the unique needs of an organization. This results in multiple systems and at the very least, multiple instances. Since all organizations take different paths to grow and have different business models, this diversity is unlikely to go away, and for a good reason. Corporations have to continually reinvent their processes to keep pace with the changing consumer demands.

Depending on how a company differentiates itself, it might have unique and best-of-breed systems to support certain functions. Effective process management requires close collaboration between all the functional divisions in an organization. Implementing business processes is only getting more complicated as ‘collaboration’ is extended beyond the four walls of the enterprise’s own operation. A company is not only interested in integrating its own data and legacy systems into its ERP system, but also in integrating those of its trading partners. In such an environment, platform diversity is a given exogenous factor that the company has to accept and surmount. The trend to collaborate with key customers, suppliers, and supply chain partners is only going to increase, given the geographic spread of modern corporations and the agility required to survive in the marketplace.

The last decade has seen an explosive rise in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) which is likely to continue as international trade offers vast consolidation opportunities at a global scale. Even if initially a carefully considered choice of platform is made, changes might be required as a result of M&A. Platform uniformity is not, and should not ordinarily be, a consideration during M&A. Even if a utopian homogenous environment existed, it would start looking like any other heterogenous IT environment after a few transactions.

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