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It’s Not Just HP And Autonomy, The Enterprise Software Space Is A Giant Stinking Mess

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The entire enterprise software space is a giant stinking mess, and it’s going to get even messier if the vendors don’t start embracing the new spirit of collaboration and social technologies that represent the modern data workflow.

Earlier today, HP CEO Meg Whitman declared that the Autonomy acquisition for $10 billion would be written off and that there were any number of improprieties and even fraud. HP posturing? Maybe. But HP’s woes say far more about the enterprise market and its dependence on legacy software and a sales-oriented culture.

Michael Ducy of EnStratus brought this to light last week in a discussion he led at the Defrag conference. He cited the following:

  • SKU Shuffle: The practice of creating an SKU for an old product and selling it as something new.
  • Software That You Can’t Install: Selling enterprise software that the user can’t install themselves due to its complexity, creating a dependence on the vendor.
  • Epidemic of Solutions: To get the software to work you often need a consultant who will build it for you. It’s why at big vendor conferences, the major sponsors are usually the consultants. They are there to work with the vendors to sign big deals for software and solutions engagements. IT departments depend on these providers.

Yes the enterprise is selling a tangled mess of spaghetti architecture, and the only ones who can make sense of it are the vendors themselves and the channels they work with. But Ducy said customers are starting to smarten up. They are not inviting vendors such a IBM and EMC to the table. They are looking at the new wave of software and services companies — the new startups that are disrupting the enterprise. EnStratus, Cloudscaling and companies like GitHub and Atlassian – as well as hundreds of others — are all making inroads. Customers are seeking out this new generation of startups. They’ve had trouble with the legacy providers that require specialized skills to set up and use, such as software suites. They want tools that anyone can use.

The startups predicate what they do on the basis of collaboration. It’s a shift that affects the entire development cycle and will continue to have impacts for many years to come.

RedMonk’s Donnie Berkholz touched on this today in a blog post about the new world of data (emphasis his):

Today, the next step is finally real enough to see where the future lies — and it’s not just data that will look like GitHub, it’s the entire workflow behind data science. Witness the open-sourcing of EMC Chorus as OpenChorus at Strata NY, and the accompanying partnerships, including one with Kaggle’s platform for data-science crowdsourcing. We’re seeing the beginnings of bringing the collaboration models that have been vastly successful in open-source communities to data science.

Berkholz’s post reflects how not all is rotten in the enterprise world. EMC is taking steps to adapt to the new collaborative market. It’s also evident at SAP, VMware and even in some quarters at HP.

But the cult of sales still looms over these big companies. Breaking down that culture means creating a new dynamic that embraces modern social and collaborative practices.