Application software comes in many different types aimed at specific requirements, platforms, user bases, etc. Enterprise Application Software (EAS) is one popular software type.
As the name suggests, the goal of enterprise application software is to fulfill the needs of an enterprise. This software will be large in scale, covering most aspects of the organization. It can be either:
- A single software spread across the organizational structure
- Multiple enterprise software applications specialized for different requirements
In this article, we will look at enterprise application software and how it differentiates from other types of software.
What is an enterprise?
Before looking at enterprise application software, let’s define what an enterprise is. The literal meaning of enterprise can be related to a business organization, most commonly a large-scale business venture.
The phrase enterprise can be used to describe any business venture from a self-employed entrepreneur to SME. However, an enterprise typically refers to a large-scale organization with many business functions in both the public and private sectors. Some well-known enterprise organizations include:
- Multinational organizations or businesses
- Federal, state, or local government entities
- Medium- to large-scale national companies
- School groups and districts
- Non-profit or charitable organizations spread across multiple areas or regions
What unifies the examples mentioned above is that employees in an enterprise setting will require access to a vast amount of information or functions to carry out their job roles. These job roles can range from sales, customer support, IT to finance and even analytics. At an information level, this data can range from sales data, customer data, security and policy information, product specifications, communication logs, productivity measurements to key performance indicators (KPIs) and service level agreements (SLAs).
(Compare KPIs & SLAs.)
To put it all together: an enterprise is a large organization with a relatively large employee base with varying roles conducting different functions.
What is Enterprise Application Software?
Since we now know what an enterprise is, let’s dive into enterprise application software. The first thing to wrap your head around this type of application is its functional scale. As these applications aim to meet the needs of an enterprise, their functionality must cover a relatively large requirement base. In general, enterprise application software is at the heart of an enterprise, providing a mission-critical solution to the entire—or the majority of the—organization.
In simple terms, a specific piece of software that covers most if not all of the tasks inherent to an enterprise setting can be defined as an Enterprise Application Software.
Characteristics of enterprise application software
Enterprise application software can be broken down into two categories:
- Software that visualizes, manipulates, and stores a large amount of complex data. One thing to note here is that while data warehouses or data analytics software are enterprise solutions, they do not come under the EAS umbrella and are considered separate software.
- Software that helps in business processes, ranging from business support to automation.
EAS software belonging to both these categories can have different characteristics depending on the underlying requirements. However, we can observe the following characteristics in general.
- The widespread nature. This software needs to power an entire organization that may be spread across different geographical locations. So, it should be able to provide functionality and performance across all those locations of the organization. With more and more organizations powered by remote workforces, most EAS software has functionality baked into to support individual employees working remotely.
- Scalability & robustness. This is a basic requirement of any software application. However, its importance is further emphasized in an enterprise environment as this software facilitates the mission-critical function of the organization. The software should be able to scale according to the growing business needs without compromising stability or functionality.
- Centralized management & administration. This is a no-brainer: the EAS must be able to provide the critical functionality of the enterprise and help the enterprise achieve its objectives and goals.
- Business-oriented and supports the core goal of the enterprise. This is a no-brainer: the EAS must be able to provide functionality that is critical to the enterprise and help the enterprise achieve its objectives and goals.
- Flexibility & extensibility. With the constantly evolving global landscape, enterprise requirements can also change abruptly. In such instances, an EAS should be flexible enough to quickly adapt to a changing workflow with minimal modification and without hindering the overall business process. Additionally, as an enterprise typically utilizes multiple software services and platforms, an EAS must have the ability to interact with these services using an API, plugins, extensions, etc.
Types of Enterprise Application Software
No single software application can facilitate all the needs of an organization. In most cases, there are specialized EAS applications suited for different requirements of the organization. Some of this application software can be listed as the following.
- Human Resource Management Systems
- Payroll Management Systems
- Customer Support and Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
- Email Systems
- Marketing and Sales Management Systems
- Incident Management Systems
- Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
- Project and Portfolio management
- Supply-chain-management Software (SCMS)
- Office Suites
All the above software is targeted at facilitating different requirements of an enterprise. Most of the time, a typical enterprise will rely on multiple systems to cover all its requirements. This is where the extendibility which was discussed above comes into play. The reason is that an EAS with a larger array of connectivity options, including other platforms, offers enterprises more freedom to choose and match different EAS to supplement their needs without being vendor-locked.
How enterprise application software differs from other software
In the previous sections, we had a look at what an EAS is and the different types of EAS available. So, what exactly makes this EAS different from other types of software? There are two types of software:
- System software. The software that is responsible for the core functionality of the system and provides the interface between the underlying hardware resources and application software. Operating Systems such as Windows, Linux, macOS, Android, and iOS come under the system software category.
- Application software. Application software sits on top of the system software and provides different functionality to users. This software can range from a simple email client or a web browser to more complex applications such as games, CAD and video editing software, AI and ML software, and software to build software. EAS comes under the application software umbrella.
While typical software such as web browsers, document editors are designed to be used by single individuals, they are also used by enterprises. However, this software is not considered a part of the EAS umbrella. Other than scale, what differentiates EAS is being designed to be used by many individuals across the organization while providing specific functionality targeted at specific business needs.
EAS & cloud services
The popularity of cloud services and increased reliance on cloud-based managed platforms have changed how most organizations approach Enterprise Application Software. Previously, the common practice was to purchase or internally build an EAS, host the application in an on-premise environment, and manage all aspects of the software, from hardware to updates manually.
With software as a service (SaaS), the cloud can now provide most organizations with a simpler solution to fulfill their EAS needs. SaaS solutions are available for organizations regardless of the type of software needed. Services like Zendesk for CRM, Microsoft Dynamics 365, SAP ERP, and Salesforce provide comprehensive EAS solutions that can be easily customized to support any workflow of an enterprise.
As these services are delivered as managed solutions, enterprises can free themselves from managing this software and hardware resource while only being responsible for the configurations. On top of that, solutions like Microsoft Dynamics support on-premises deployments that enable enterprises to facilitate hybrid environments where sensitive data resides within the enterprise-managed system. This feature allows enterprises to leverage the advantages of both cloud-based and on-premises deployments.
Implementing a cloud-first EAS solution will be ideal for many organizations moving forward with many other services like data warehouses, endpoint security, email, and IT also available as cloud services. The primary obstacle for a cloud-first approach for EAS was the security and compliance requirements. However, services like dedicated servers and tenancy, isolated environments, geographically separated data services, SD-WAN, stricter compliance, and security enforcements have paved the way for EAS to benefit from all the advantages of Cloud without compromising privacy or security.
Selecting the right EAS solution
Enterprise Application Software has become a core component of a successful enterprise. However, selecting the right EAS solution can be a daunting process with a myriad of EAS solutions available for different enterprise requirements.
SaaS offers enterprises more freedom when it comes to selecting the ideal EAS solution that meets their specific requirements without incurring significant upfront investments.
BMC supports enterprise applications
BMC is software company that has been supporting enterprise organizations for over 40 years. With solutions for service and operations management, workload automation, and the mainframe, practically any part of your organization can benefit from BMC solutions. Explore BMC Helix, Control-M, and our BMC Automated Mainframe Intelligence (AMI) portfolios.