Report from Cloud World Forum: Cordys’s Fortuitous Architectural Choice

I spoke at Cloud World Forum in London last week, and I had time to peruse the numerous vendor booths at the event. One in particular caught my eye: Netherlands-based Cordys.

I have followed Cordys since its very early days, as they were a player in the SOA marketplace in the 2000s. Now their marketing centers on Cordys Cloud, a combination ESB and BPM PaaS tool in the Cloud.

Such messaging immediately makes me skeptical, as traditional ESBs as well as BPM tools are inherently Cloud-unfriendly. They are typically built out of heavyweight middleware, pieced together from multiple product acquisitions. They are generally single tenant and inelastic, unable to scale horizontally.

I was already aware that Cordys didn’t copy the Frankenstein approach that IBM and particularly Oracle followed to build their SOA platforms — you know, buy a bunch of parts and hope for lightning. On the contrary, the Cordys story differentiated them from other SOA platforms because of the vision, and in particular, the money of its founder, Jan Baan.

You may remember Baan from his eponymous 1990s ERP product. As the story goes, he cashed out before the dotcom crash and used his sizable fortune to fund the creation of the Cordys platform from the ground up. As a result, it has always competed favorably with the Frankensteins of the world, although Cordys has always been strongest in Europe.

But Cloud? Just because the product was intentionally architected rather than pieced together doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re any more Cloud-friendly than their competitors, right?

As I learned at Cloud World Forum, there’s more to this story. Jan Baan cut his teeth in the ERP world, after all, and one of the fundamental problems with ERP packages is that large enterprises end up with so many of them. It seems that every line of business in every geography needs their own, resulting in a mishmash of miscellaneous packages. Baan wanted to avoid this situation with Cordys, so he made sure it was architected to support multitenancy. And he made this decision before the Cloud hit the scene. Before anybody knew how important multitenancy would be to offering the Cordys platform in the Cloud.

Remarkable insightfulness or dumb luck? You be the judge. But my money is on the former. Rarely if ever does a product vendor make a fortuitous architectural decision by accident.

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