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Software Manufacturing: Custom Application Stacks for Virtualized Infrastructure and Cloud Computing

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CohesiveFT just released a white paper detailing a new trend in the industry, software manufacturing which is fueled by mature Open Source Software and Cloud Computing.

The ever more fine-grained distributed computing architecture is customer-led, not vendor-driven. Customers are aggressively moving from single-sourced, tightly coupled, vertically-integrated middleware solutions to multi-sourced, loosely-coupled, horizontally-aware middleware solutions.

By contrast, CohesiveFT sees:

Middleware today is single-sourced, high touch, one-size-fits-all, and obscured through opaque pricing.

and believes that this market is ready for disruption with an online distribution model. This was echoed recently by Frederick Chong (Microsoft), who sees the democratization of software distribution as a major driving force  behind this possible disruption (based on Chris Anderson’s landmark book “The Long Tail”).

CohesiveFT notes that:

IT analyst studies have consistently shown that enterprise IT has less than 20% of its manpower and dollar budgets available to new business initiatives. Ultimately, in one form or another, the reasons for this are traced back to too much complexity.

Its rationale is that this complexity can be tamed:

With the “blooming” of thousands of open source components, combined with a proliferation of virtualized computer devices potentially deployed in grid topologies, there is a risk of increased complexity for customers to manage. A “software manufacturer” can absorb most of this complexity through an automation platform that makes configuring and provisioning middleware solution no more difficult than choosing memory, disk, and peripheral configurations.

 CohesiveFT argues the sheer number and types of OSS components make it is easy to build modern middleware stacks with completely different components even though these components have no noticeable functional differences. In particular, these components are so loosely coupled that:

The manufacturing model is no longer just for hardware or physically assembled products; the transformation of the existing middleware products to multi-sourced, loosely-coupled, horizontally-aware components with supply chain management orchestrated by software “manufacturers” enables the birth of a new approach: software manufacturing...the software market will move to sourcing individual components of the application stack from specialized vendors which are then assembled into mass customized application stacks through a built-to-order model.

But this is not all, CohesiveFT also sees a new trend emerging that augments Software Manufacturing:

CFT is encouraging community contribution from enterprise and independent developers alike. The role of community contribution or “crowdsourcing” is a key part of the opportunity created by the Elastic Server platform.

Is Software Manufacturing going to create a second wave of success for Open Source Software? Is it indeed disruptive? or is it targeted to non consumers in the long tail? What's your opinion?

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