Acme Industrial Distributors is a subsidiary of Gewürztraminer GmbH. Their IT organization runs a complex mix of enterprise applications including, at the operating system level, Sun Solaris, x86 Linux, Microsoft Windows Server, and an IBM mainframe running some crucial part of the business that everyone is afraid to touch. Plus there’s some old AS/400 (or VMS) rattling around, too, that they “haven’t been able to get around to replacing yet.”
The application stack includes SAP but only because Gewürztraminer required them to deploy it. They don’t really use it for much more than rolling up financials. They have a bunch of Oracle databases doing mysteriousnesses, and use Peoplesoft for HR. The sales organization uses an outdated version of Siebel that everyone hates. They use Exchange for email and increasingly Sharepoint, and of course Windows desktops. At the end of 2010 they migrated from Windows XP to Windows 7. They use a heavily modified version of Manugistics that is key to the business; this is the one application which they consider themselves to be experts in.
And then there are, inevitably, custom-developed apps, mostly written in Visual Basic. In addition, they think they’re using Websphere but they’re actually running plain old Java on Tomcat without any of the J2EE extensions. (It’s always plain old Java.)
They use VMWare extensively for development and testing, and AWS too except that you can’t mention that to the CIO because he doesn’t know about it. He also thinks that they have a sophisticated build environment, but they don’t. (They have it: they just don’t use it.)
Their whole setup is an accidental architecture.
More or less, this is the standard corporate IT environment today. What’s amazing about this unmanageable complexity is that it supports comparatively few users compared to Internet-scale services. But security requirements, privacy, etc. are all supposedly much stricter. Except that, truth be told, they probably aren’t.