Brocade leverages Capriza to mobilize its Oracle beast

Organizations have long heard of the value that mobilizing their applications brings. But what are you to do if your main applications of choice don't lend themselves to a mobile experience?

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Capriza helps convert desktop apps for use on smartphones and tablets.

Credit: IDG News Service/Mikael Ricknas

Brocade is a global technology vendor involved in the networking space. As such, you'd expect that it would display the most cutting-edge of application approaches. But the truth is that Brocade is a mature organization and has the same issues around technical debt that other legacy organizations have. Brocade uses Oracle ERP for its purchase order and requisition requirements. 

Now, Oracle might be a robust, scalable and "enterprise-ready" solution, but it's not what you'd call lightweight, cutting-edge or at the forefront of new approaches. In particular, Brocade's solution of choice wasn't really designed for a paradigm where people expect to be able to do things on the move and from mobile devices.

An idealist would suggest that the solution is simple: Brocade should just throw out Oracle and start using a solution that lends itself better to Brocade's requirements. The pragmatic view is, however, the reality. Ripping and replacing such a core piece of technology simply isn't going to happen. Brocade needed to find a more palatable way of driving the outcomes it needed.

Which is where Capriza comes in. Capriza has a pretty simple approach: wrapping existing monolithic applications with a layer that allows organizations to build mobile-enabled solutions on top of those key systems. 

Rather than ripping and replacing, Capriza takes the view that organizations should keep the existing solutions, but simplify and mobilize the workflows that sit on top of those applications. Capriza has solutions that perform this function for products from SAP, Oracle and Salesforce, as well as being able to custom-build integrations for other applications.

Brocade decided to use Capriza's task-specific mobile applications (so-called Zapps) to streamline, simplify and mobilize specific workflows — in particular, the approvals process relating to requisitions. Oracle had some mobile functionality, but Brocade found the mobile workflows to be time-consuming and inconvenient. The interesting thing here, for anyone who has even dabbled with enterprise IT and legacy systems, is that these Zapps were created in less than two weeks using Capriza's platform. That is a timescale that is pretty much unheard of — enterprise IT projects like this are notorious for taking years, costing millions and not really working if and when they are actually finished.

When time is of the essence, having quick and easy solutions is key. According to the company, Brocade has been able to decrease purchase requisition cycle times by 60% and purchase order approval times by 90%.

“We spend half a billion dollars a year, all of which needs to go through a robust approval process, yet we don’t want our executives spending all day approving purchase orders,” said Gale England, vice president of operations at Brocade. “We needed a smarter, more efficient system to get the right information in front of the right people, no matter where they were. Capriza enabled us to effectively streamline, simplify and mobilize this process via its secure platform, which has led to a dramatic increase in executive productivity.”

It's a compelling story, and one which looks set for expansion — after successfully resolving their purchase approvals issues, Brocade is now looking to deploy the Capriza platform in other areas of its business. This mimics similar success that Capriza has seen with other customers such as Flextronics, Symantec, Marvell and NTT.

Often mobilization is seen as an all-or-nothing opportunity requiring massive "rip and replace" projects. This Brocade case study, while a relatively small part of Brocade's total enterprise footprint, is a good proof point for another way of doing things.

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