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Yes. The superplatform vendors are taking over. At heart, a superplatform is the following:
* A single-vendor product portfolio that includes best-of-breed offerings in most critical enterprise software categories, including (especially) application servers, portals, middleware, database management systems, integrated development environments, enterprise information integration tools, and packaged business applications.
* A broad, diverse vendor ecosystem that extends, supplements, and supports all of these core software offerings.
* An established, entrenched customer base that has committed to the vendor’s (and its partners’) offerings across many or most enterprise software categories.
By those criteria, the emerging superplatform vendors, as this article states, are SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, and IBM. They differ in many ways, of course, but they are all motherships that will continue to strengthen their collective market clout, and also engage each other in ever more fierce battles in various product, regional, and enterprise markets.
SAP will attempt to leverage its predominance in packaged business apps by selling its NetWeaver platform offerings more deeply into its huge customer base.
Oracle/PeopleSoft/JD Edwards (now a single company) will continue to chip into SAP’s applications market lead while leveraging Oracle’s clout in databases, middleware, and tools.
Microsoft will attempt (with sporadic success) to push its way out of the SMB application niche up to the high-end enterprises in which SAP and Oracle are predominant (while, of course, continuing to push Windows further, wider, and deeper into all niches).
IBM, though lacking ERP and other apps necessary to go head-to-head against SAP and Oracle in that niche, will make strategic acquisitions in this area. It will also continue to leverage its considerable strengths in most platform software categories while using its predominant asset—its huge, worldwide consulting and systems integration business—to push its and its partners’ offerings into all manner of integration and application development projects.
Where does this leave various platform vendors (BEA, Fujitsu, HP, JBoss, Novell, Red Hat, Sun, Sybase, etc.) and middleware vendors (Sonic, TIBCO, etc.)? Clutching for survival in the second-tier of vendors who haven’t achieved “best-of-breed” status in any particular niche.
More to the point, the enterprise software industry is shaking out into two broad segments:
· Superplatform vendors (the acquirers and survivors): SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, and IBM
· Other vendors (who’ll either be acquired by superplatform vendors, will partner more deeply and symbiotically with the superplatform vendors, or will vanish from the face of the industry): more or less everybody else
This shakeout will be complete by the year 2010.