For some time, one of the channel's biggest bugbears has been trying to deliver multi-vendor solutions to customers that can interoperate without breaking down at the drop of a hat.
Unfortunately for many resellers, that dream is far from reaching fruition thanks to many narrow-minded vendors. However, one organisation is attempting to break these shackles by developing a framework upon which customers, VARs and integrators can buy and sell substitutable, vendor-independent application modules.
The framework, which is being developed by Propagate (a joint research project of two multimedia centres - Sydney-based Access CMC and Brisbane-based Impart), is designed to allow customers to substitute different application models from a variety of vendors without forcing them to incur the high cost of restructuring their networks.
"Many customers are going to be hitting a brick wall soon if they can't manage their technology infrastructure so as to drive business benefits and keep costs down," claimed Peter Higgs, Propagate's project director.
Higgs referred to Propagate's "hub and spoke" approach to analysing the methods certain organisations use to maintain the rights to their intellectual property.
"In our research we are finding that different industries are coding their disparate systems in order to communicate only with other organisations within those communities.
"If they choose to conduct business outside of that 'hub and spoke' environment then there are the costs of having to sign up with multiple service providers, each with costly proprietary transaction management and tracking systems."
For example, Higgs claimed that if an organisation was to conduct an Internet transaction within its community it may cost in the vicinity of 10 cents. However, to trade with an external customer the cost could skyrocket to hundreds of dollars per transaction.
"The vendors want to lock customers into their own systems and applications, but customers are demanding access to the best range of products that can be delivered via the Internet."
Higgs said that customer compliance with this framework could prove a godsend for VARs and integrators.
"If these high-end resellers can mix and match application components they can tailor a technology solution that exactly meets business requirements.
"Customers don't have to buy a complete Microsoft solution, for example, if they can substitute better applications cheaply over the Internet," he added.
Higgs said Propagate is about to enter the second stage of development of its framework, which will see the organisation finalise code specifications upon which software developers can begin to base their future applications.