Feeds

Facebook obsessives overlook enterprise riches

Big biz software is where all the cool kids are at

High performance access to file storage

Open ... and Shut It's not that enterprise software is boring. But let's face it: if you had the choice to tell your mom that your company makes it easy for 800 million people to talk to each other, or that your business makes it easier for companies like Chevron to do business more productively, the former is going to sound a heck of a lot cooler.

Which is one reason that it's not surprising that the media spends so much time talking about consumer-facing companies like Facebook, Apple, and Twitter, even though the boring enterprise is actually what gets work done.

And it's also the reason why so many of our younger developers forego a life of tedium at enterprise IT companies to make the next great Angry Birds clone (Furious Ferrets?).

But not all. Aaron Levie, 20-something-year-old chief executive of enterprise content collaboration company Box.net, is among those who believe that enterprise technology is cool in its own right, and can be made to be consumer-cool in terms of ease of use and user interface, as well.

His enterprise customers seem to think he's onto something, with more than 100,000 companies using the Box.net service, totaling more than eight million users. No, that's not 800 million, but it's enough to triple Box.net's sales from last year, and put Box.net on track for either a mega buyout or IPO.

Nor is Box.net alone.

It turns out that the content management market has been booming, at least for the open source-inclined among the vendors. Acquia, the primary sponsor of the popular Drupal web content management system, grew its bookings by 230 per cent in 2011, and has enjoyed 11 straight quarters of revenue growth. My former employer, Alfresco, has been profitable since 2009 (on less than $20 million in funding), is growing at a greater than 40 per cent clip on a sizable revenue base, and, to my knowledge, has grown every single quarter since its founding in early 2005.

Moving outside content management and collaboration, a variety of other enterprise vendors report strong growth, including Workday, Salesforce.com and SugarCRM (disclosure: I'm an advisor to SugarCRM), among others.

Like Red Hat. The Raleigh, North Carolina, open-source leader grows every single quarter by a consistent 20 to 25 per cent. Without fail. In good times and bad. And yet it sells the most amazingly dull enterprise IT of all: infrastructure software covering operating systems and middleware. While others are rushing off to cloud or consumer gold rushes, Red Hat is selling them all spades and pickaxes.

What could be more boring? Or lucrative?

Impressively, each of these companies mentioned above has managed to grow in a sour to cautious enterprise IT market, which Forrester expects to grow at 5.4 per cent in 2012.

All of which is not to suggest that these enterprise companies are doing something that is somehow more important than what Twitter, Facebook, and other "consumer" companies do. At a personal level, Facebook, for example, enriches my life by making social connections easier. And Twitter is invaluable as a way to share work-related blog posts and news articles with others.

But I am suggesting that some perspective may be in order. Browse through any list of the coolest iPhone apps, for example, and you're unlikely to find one as impressive as this one described to me by a friend at SAP:

How's this for an eye-opener: a mobile app that accesses the in-memory computing engine. Let’s say one for a sales VP who’d like to dig through quarterly/regional/product group/customer group sales data. Results (and simulations) are done on an Android tablet using HTML5/jQuery controls, including R statistical analysis, and Hadoop data feeds, etc.

This isn't a five-minute mobile app. What SAP does blends hardcore Big Data processing, married to sophisticated front-end mobile delivery. You won't buy it for $0.99 in any app store, but it just might come "free" with a $100,000 enterprise license.

It's enterprise software. It doesn't make the headlines, but it's how work gets done. And yes, some unfortunate people still have to work. ®

Matt Asay is senior vice president of business development at Nodeable, offering systems management for managing and analyzing cloud-based data. He was formerly SVP of biz dev at HTML5 start-up Strobe and chief operating officer of Ubuntu commercial operation Canonical. With more than a decade spent in open source, Asay served as Alfresco's general manager for the Americas and vice president of business development, and he helped put Novell on its open source track. Asay is an emeritus board member of the Open Source Initiative (OSI). His column, Open...and Shut, appears three times a week on The Register.

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
Sorry London, Europe's top tech city is Munich
New 'Atlas of ICT Activity' finds innovation isn't happening at Silicon Roundabout
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.