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Does the cloud change age-old build-or-buy dilemma?

How the cloud is helping company's build software

Historically, when an organization needed software, it had two basic paths: buy something already built and use it as-is or build from scratch.

Both paths have been fraught with peril, as witnessed by the 2009 CHAOS report that showed only 32 percent of projects being successfully completed and nearly one in four projects cancelled before completion.

The problem with deploying pre-built software is that it is rigid and inflexible. Software builders didn't anticipate the processes your organization developed to meet customer needs and be successful. What's more, they had no plans to implement those changes because many of their other customers wouldn't need them. So you're forced to change the way your business operates just to use the software.

The other option - to build software from scratch - is much easier said than done. Since many software businesses struggle with designing and building software, a company whose core competency isn't software is destined to struggle with the process. What's more, software companies can spread their costs out over many customers; when building software from scratch, your organization has to cover the entire cost.

The cloud ushers in some new concepts that already are showing the ability to solve this build-or-buy dilemma.

First, companies can elect to build their application from scratch - not in a development language, but on a new generation of platforms delivered as a service (PaaS). These platforms can reduce development times by 50 to 80 percent compared with traditional development tools. By using PaaS, the company doesn't need to worry about buying and maintaining servers or other infrastructure, thereby saving more time and money.

Many of these platforms allow you to start with pre-configured common functionality so you don't have to recreate the wheel, but they also allow you to rapidly integrate with other Web services - third-party party applications that bring great functionality to the table.

In short, the build-versus-buy dilemma in the cloud is changing to a build-and-buy win-win scenario.

This post was originally on the Central Penn Business Journal.

More Stories By Treff LaPlante

Treff LaPlante has been involved with technology for nearly 20 years. At WorkXpress, he passionately drives the vision of making customized enterprise software easy, fast, and affordable.

Prior to joining WorkXpress, Treff was director of operations for eBay's HomesDirect. While there, he created strategic relationships with Fortune 500 companies and national broker networks and began his foray into the development of flexible workflow software technologies. He served on the management team that sold HomesDirect to eBay.

During his time at Vivendi-Universal Interactive, Treff was director of strategy. In addition to M&A activities, Treff broadly applied quantitative management principles to sales, marketing, and product line functions. Treff served as the point person for the management team that sold Cendant Software to Vivendi-Universal. Earlier positions included product management and national sales trainer for Energy Design Systems, an engineering software company. Treff began his professional career as a metals trader for Randall Trading Corp, a commodities firm that specialized in bartering and transporting various metals and coal from the then-dissolving Soviet Union.

Treff received his MBA from Pepperdine University and a BS in chemical engineering from The Pennsylvania State University. http://www.workxpress.com

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