CW Developer Network

Mar 11 2018   2:33PM GMT

What are software accelerators?

Adrian Bridgwater Adrian Bridgwater Profile: Adrian Bridgwater

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The software industry is always focused on acceleration and speed – but typically we’re thinking about processor performance and code execution effeciency.

But now, we are turning our focus to so-called software accelerators, so what are they?

In a world of software application development innovation where everything down to a database and a word processor is also a ‘solution’, accelerators actually a kind of solution (don’t tell the marketing people) to getting a task done based upon portions of pre-defined logic and data behaviour.

When we talk about predefinition in this sense, it is work to locate, define, quantify and qualify predefined repeatable use cases for specific pieces of data inside applications before we then move forward to and then manage that information.

As has been previously noted, software applications will usually have a shape that comes about as a result of their behaviour when they execute — and that shape and data topography will often be reinforced depending on the industry vertical that the software is applied to.

Big scale IT vendors (you can pick your favourite top five) are now all busy rolling out pre-defined templates and operations blueprints labelled as accelerators for specific vertical industries and for specific Line of Business (LoB) functions.

Jon & Clive get to adorn

Principal analyst at Gigaom Jon Collins argues that there is indeed a place for things like accelerators.

“I think the word is coming from the consulting world, as a part of language to encourage enterprises to innovate and otherwise do things quicker. It also has strong alignment with the recipes [and work to lay down orchestrated logic] coming from the Continuous Deployment (CD) world. Indeed, it also resonates with the inference models coming from AI,” said Collins.

Collins argues that the challenge where will be that these meta-level constructs (models, accelerators etc) are an order of magnitude harder to keep up to date.

Let’s get ready for a new era of Accelerator Configuration Management (ACM) – not a three letter acronym (TLA) yet, but it might soon be.

In line with Collins’ stance on accelerators is Clive Longbottom in his capacity as founder at tech analyst house Quocirca.

Longbottom says we need to stand back and remember — there is open preconfigured and constrained preconfigured.

“Open preconfigured is where the software is easy to install and run, but it does not constrain what the business needs to do now and in the future.  Then there is constrained preconfigured, where the software tries to decide for you what the business will need now and in the future – something that many [enterprise software] users have complained about for years with previous versions.  Anything that hardcodes processes is bound to fail: today’s process only deals with today’s problems: tomorrow’s problems will need a completely different approach at the business – and therefore coded – process level,” explained Longbottom.

Now is the time of software application accelerators, but as our understanding of the term itself is (in some places) as flaky as our appreciation of where, when, why and how these technologies should be applied… perhaps don’t fully put the pedal to the metal quite yet in every instance.

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