Software // Enterprise Applications
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4/27/2005
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SmartAdvice: Adobe And Macromedia Should Ride Software-As-A-Service Trend

The companies can offer a consistent user experience for authoring, displaying, and integrating with back-end applications, The Advisory Council says. Also, a formal review and reporting process will help companies evaluate IT investments.

Editor's Note: Welcome to SmartAdvice, a weekly column by The Advisory Council (TAC), an advisory service firm. The feature answers two questions of core interest to you, ranging from leadership advice to enterprise strategies to how to deal with vendors. Submit questions directly to smartadvice@tacadvisory.com

Question A: What are the implications of Adobe buying Macromedia?

Our advice: Both Adobe's Portable Document Format Reader and Macromedia's Flash Player are ubiquitous on PCs. Adobe has a profitable business model where document creators pay for the privilege of having their document being read broadly. Similarly, Macromedia has a profitable business model where creators of animation pay for the privilege of having the animation displayed on a large number of PCs. Both have a great distribution channel for pushing out their latest features and versions to a large number of PCs.

Both companies have been trying to extend their profitable desktop franchises. Adobe has been more successful through its intelligent document / E-paper approach that streamlines paper workflow in, for example, mortgage applications with electronic versions.

Flash is a pseudo-virtual machine that interprets Flash action scripts. Perhaps, had Flash been closer to a full-fledged virtual machine, Macromedia would have been more effective at integrating with backend Java 2 Enterprise Edition application servers. Converting Flash to a full-fledged virtual machine today would require giving up some fraction of its user base because mechanisms such as garbage collection and just-in-time compilation, while improving development of managed code, introduce asynchronous behavior that's inconsistent with the near real-time needs of animation scripts.


Related Links
Adobe To Buy Macromedia For $3.4 Billion

Eclipse Rich Client Platform
There's an emerging trend toward providing software as a service, enabled by open-source software and x86-compatible processors. Companies such as Google, eBay, and Amazon.com create value by using low-cost standard components and creating user experiences for which it's difficult to create substitutes. One could visualize similar services for, as examples, document processing and tax processing (both individual and corporate). In these instances, multiple copies of software -- one on each desktop -- would be replaced by back-end server processing that hosts one logical copy of the software. This application-service-provider model lets a vendor add new features every few weeks, using popular agile-programming methodologies, compared with several-year upgrade cycles as practiced by traditional software vendors.

Tools and deployment models have emerged in the open-source ecosystem that combine desirable features of rich clients with browser-like ease of deployment. For example, the Eclipse Rich Client Platform lets developers build Java applications that can compete with native applications on any platform. Eclipse is a vendor-neutral, open-development platform built around a plug-in-based framework that makes it easier to create, integrate, and use software tools.

The merged Adobe and Macromedia have an opportunity to ride this trend by providing a consistent user experience for authoring and displaying rich content, integrating with back-end applications, and delivering improved workflow in the enterprise.

--Anurag Gupta

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