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OrangeScape CEO Discusses Citizen Developers & PaaS
Company Focuses on Bringing Enterprise IT & Business Side Together

I wrote earlier about OrangeScape, based in Chennai, India, a company that is taking an aggressive approach to Platform-as-a-Service that it calls Visual aPaaS. It has broken the XaaS continuum into several parts, segmented PaaS as well, and identified Force.com as its chief competitor in its specific space.

Company CEO Suresh Sambandam (pictured below) believes that well-executed aPaaS is the true competitive differentiator in cloud computing, as it empowers companies to develop their own unique solutions to problems, in contrast to the commodization that's found in delivering Software-as-a-Service and Infrastructure-as-a-Service.

Suresh and his team have also identified a concept that's new to me, that of the "citizen developer," a person on the business side of the enterprise who has a worldview quite different from that of the "professional developers" found in the IT department.

Suresh told me that the folks at Gartner have popularized the term; nevertheless, I wanted to find out how it affects OrangeScape's product and strategy. Here's the discussion I had with him:

So tell us more about what you mean by the term "citizen developer."

At OrangeScape, we call them "white-collar developers." Our CTO Mani Doraisamy coined this term to differentiate this new breed from the widespread stereotype of software developers. These people are typically developers who are developing their own tools to address their business focused problems on routine basis.

They are also referred to as power users; they used to be outside the knowledge of Enterprise IT. Truly speaking IT pretended to be unaware of their existence, mostly because there wasn't much they were able to do about the needs of such developers.

But, in the cloud paradigm, we are seeing a big shift in the thinking process of Enterprise IT leaders. They are starting to recognize that citizen developers are closer to the domain problem and are in the best position to create a solution without what I call transmission loss.

In the past, citizen developers figured out the tools on their own, be it Excel or Access or others. Now, with cloud being all about abstraction this is getting elegantly resolved by Visual Paradigm such as OrangeScape.

What can be done to mitigate the conflicts between the citizen developer on the business side and the "pro" on the IT side? They come from different worlds. Where's the middle ground?

Well, I feel that professional developers will be still very much required to build complex systems that require a much more structured approach.

Also, the professional developers would possibly build re-usable core and horizontal services that are consumed by the citizen developers. Citizen developers would essentially build departmental and more verticalized apps by consuming the horizontal services.

The challenge is that in the past there were different platforms and tools for these two worlds. Without a single unified platform that allows both professional developers and citizen developers to co-exist, the middle ground will not be achieved.

I believe that cloud platforms like OrangeScape and obviously Force.com too, make this possible.

A key to any successful IT implementation is to get the business and IT sides communicating effectively. How do you accomplish this for your customers within your Visual PaaS approach?

There are a number of key capabilities within OrangeScape's Visual PaaS to achieve this.

OrangeScape has an approach based on visual modeling that's comprehensible by both business and IT; we have a graphical business process designer in a Visio-like format that anyone can understand.

We also provide a "test-as-you-develop" capability that eliminates the complex testing process that business users don't have patience for.

At a more fundamental level, OrangeScape is a concurrent collaboration platform allowing IT developers and business look at the solution through the development process. So, speed of development on the OrangeScape Visual aPaaS platform allows for the agile approach of development. The big advantage is that you can do short agile sprints to demonstrate the business requirements iteratively without making it an overhead.

How does "aPaaS" differentiate itself from other aspects of Platform-as-a-Service?

In the PaaS space, aPaaS and iPaaS are two emerging streams of specialized cloud platforms. They would become the cloud cousins for App Server and Integration Server respectively. The traditional Integration functionality is moving into Integration PaaS, abbreviated as iPaaS. And the Application Server functionality is moving into Application PaaS, ie, aPaaS.

Actually, even within aPaaS, there are sub-classes such as Meta-data aPaaS, Framework aPaaS and Instance aPaaS. OrangeScape is a meta-data aPaaS, we call it Visual PaaS, focused on abstraction and productivity aspects of application development on the cloud. The other approaches still target the core techie section of the developers.

Why should an enterprise consider OrangeScape instead of Force.com? After all, Salesforce is a major force, so to speak, in the world of cloud computing.

Let me explain this through an example. In one of the recent wins we had in UK, we competed with Force.com. In our view, this customer chose OrangeScape for several reasons.

We had a superior technology which came out during the proof-of-concept and throughout the evaluation process. We are really proud of our A+ product engineering team at OrangeScape!

We also had a unifying story that allows customers to move emails messaging, collaboration and apps to a single cloud platform. In that case, the customer preference was to use Google Apps for email and collaboration, and OrangeScape running on the Google App Engine for business applications.

This gave a seamless experience for end users when it came to look-and-feel, single sign-on and more. For IT, the decision is around choosing a homogeneous cloud architecture - very similar to what they would have done in picking their options in past around .NET or Java.

We are a nimble team with our ears to customers' needs. This makes it easier for us to address the demands of the customers and tune our roadmap accordingly. This nimbleness goes a long way in favor of Enterprise IT leaders who are making platform choices in the cloud.

And we had strong support from Google's "New" Enterprise team. We've planned more of this -- strategically working together - in the days to come.

In the end, who is involved in deciding to go with OrangeScape - the citizen, the pro, or both?

IT leadership still sits in the driver's seat as for as making a platform decision. What is encouraging is that they are acknowledging the needs to take the citizen developers along the way. More important, they are realizing that Visual PaaS could provide them with the capability to address those needs.

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About Roger Strukhoff
Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

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