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What is enterprise software, exactly?

What does “enterprise” means in relation to software architecture?

What makes a component or product "enterprise" software vs non-enterprise ready? Is it difficult to use? Is it support contacts? Is it reputation? Is it a level of testing? Is it integration support? Is it marketing? Is it the focus on the customer of the product?

What makes a piece of software "enterprise" software, rather than something that is for general consumption?

For example, Derby DB is for developers, and small apps, but it's not an "enterprise database".

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    The price tag (and the marketing department), usually. Aug 7, 2012 at 15:01
  • I know you're being scarcastic, but sales/marketing is technically correct.
    – monksy
    Aug 7, 2012 at 15:04
  • 2
    For a database, "Enterprise" would mean fail over, security, fault tolerance, performance, distribution etc. Aug 7, 2012 at 15:32
  • Only partially. @AndrewFinnell: It can be argued MySQL has that - but don't go telling Oracle that MySQL is "Enterprise", they have the other database product for that ;) Aug 7, 2012 at 15:33
  • @piskvor I'll add support into the "Enterprise" also. If MySQL provides the same kind of support and all the other features I'd consider it Enterprise. I don't really care if Oracle considers it or not. Aug 7, 2012 at 15:34

6 Answers 6


I think the following article on wikipedia describes it well: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enterprise_software

The meaning of "enterprise software" is quite fuzzy, but I can summarize that enterprise software is a collection of integrated tools targeted to solve common business tasks & to optimize the whole process rather than a tool or a set of tools for specific use, like "derby DB".

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    Additionally, a collection of integrated tools targeted to insure a long term consulting income stream.
    – jfrankcarr
    Aug 7, 2012 at 15:43

It's a buzzword. Plenty of non-enterprise software is used in plenty of places; often more successfully.

That said, there are three key components that can apply:

  1. Scalability. If your database can't (easily) grow with the business to handle the size of data, and concurrent connections then you're not enterprise.

  2. Reliability. If you can't supply the 99.9999% that really critical business systems require, then you're not enterprise.

  3. Flexibility. This doesn't apply to databases so much but more to SAP or Peoplesoft sort of apps. If a business needs to change in order to adapt to a piece of software's way of doing things (rather than vice versa), the software isn't going to sell in an enterprise environment.


Strange but, no-one mentioned security as important feature to be Enterprise Ready.

There are some very important concerns when deploying any system in an enterprise. The top priority should be Security, followed by Scalability, Reliability and Efficiency.

More detailed information and definitions can be found in Wiki, and from SE - when software is enterprise ready?

To be short: "Enterprise ready" means: If it crashes or leaks the information then enterprises/customers using it will possibly sue you.

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    I don't know about the "enterprise" software you've seen ... but an awful lot of what I have has "security" bolted-on at best :(
    – warren
    Aug 7, 2012 at 17:58

Enterprise ready means "suitable for use in an enterprise."

The needs of an enterprise are often different from those of an individual consumer. Enterprises often need things like: scalability, centralized management, security, robustness, ability to integrate with other systems, and so on.


In database terms it is because it has features that smaller organizations don't need (or want to pay for) that support scaliblity, performance, advanced analytics, etc.


Speaking as an "enterprise" software developer, two of the key things are flexibility and scale. We don't get to declare "Nobody in their right mind would ever assign over 256 separate descriptions to a product". Nope, you have to do the work of making the software accommodate unlimited numbers of pretty much everything, no matter how little sense it makes, no matter how much faster it would be if we could restrict things to a fixed number. Pretty much the only time we limit anything is so that sales can sell different versions of the software at different price points (e.g., the "small business version" might restrict you to only 10,000 products or five warehouses or four custom attributes).

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