It's interesting to hear arguments about the future of high-tech played out in the realm of metaphor. After all, it is the "utility" metaphor that has proved a strong foundation for the folks behind the "on-demand" movement. Heck, they even got Nick "IT Doesn't Matter" Carr to embrace this metaphor. "As with the factory-owned generators that dominated electricity production a century ago, today's private IT plants will be supplanted by large-scale, centralized utilities," he writes in his newest essay in MIT Sloan Management Review. "The transition to the new supply model promises to bring challenges and opportunities to the users of IT while upending the status quo of the computer industry."
Yes, yes, we've heard that one. But Peter Graf, SVP of product and industry solutions at SAP,has an alternative metaphor. He thinks the "on-demand" model "makes no sense over time." His metaphor is a hotel room. You move to a new city and you may have to live in a hotel for a few days while the paint dries or something. He acknowledges that the on-demand model may make sense for specific processes in the early stages of deployment. But you don't go on living in a hotel. You'd end up broke. Eventually, you move into the new home you bought. You want the flexibility and differentiation that on-demand does not allow. Got it? So don't expect to see ads for SAP On-Demand anytime soon.