Hybrid Lowdown

The concept of "hybrid vigor" deserves more respect than it’s been getting of late from enterprise application vendors. The "h" word ought to be reserved for combinations that reinforce strengths, rather than those that compound weaknesses — but some tech providers blithely assert that choice is an unmixed blessing, making a claim that often falls apart under careful scrutiny.

There are substantial costs to any effort to deliver application function in both on-premise and service-mode configurations. In the real world, all costs are ultimately borne by the customer, and the costs of so-called hybrid application product lines are no exception.

The baggage of a legacy code base that’s optimized for on-premise delivery is no advantage — quite the reverse — to any effort to match the efficiency and the pace of innovation seen in Software as a Service. Hybrid offerings lead to product line fragmentation, enterprise portfolio incoherence, and old-fashioned market segmentation that serves vendors’ interests rather than customers’.

I’ve written a white paper entitled “Hybrids and Hidden Costs” that details these dynamics; I’ve also restated the case in a 3-minute video. I welcome your comments on either of those offerings.

March 26, 2008