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Commentary: WebMethods makes its mark in middleware

WebMethods is benefiting now from its decision last year to acquire one of the long-standing leaders in application integration solutions, Active Software.

    By Yefim Natis, Gartner Analyst

    WebMethods is benefiting now from its decision last year to acquire one of the long-standing leaders in application integration solutions, Active Software.

    WebMethods has brought together the vision to embrace opportunities in the business-to-business market with the ability to execute in the middleware and integration market. This combination has given it strong momentum.

    The momentum reflects strong fundamentals rather than a temporary spurt because middleware is a difficult market to penetrate. It requires technically advanced engineering resources, sophisticated technological vision, financial resources to sustain slow initial growth, the agility to strike business partnerships and the savvy to pick the right standards.

    See news story:
    WebMethods endures despite competition, stock turmoil
    In a fast-growing economy, middleware vendors are never the top stars. They typically have as their customers conservative and less flashy enterprise projects. However, in a slowing economy, the nature of the middleware market turns to the advantage of its vendors. Middleware is fundamental to business systems, and it reflects enterprises? long-term technology goals. Therefore, it is the last technology investment that enterprises--needing to slow the growth of their IT spending and boost the bottom line--will delay.

    Although many technology sectors are suffering in today's economic climate, middleware vendors such as WebMethods, BEA Systems, IBM's software division, Iona Technologies, SeeBeyond and Tibco Software have reported very strong growth in the few last quarters.

    The imminent release of Microsoft's BizTalk poses the biggest short-term challenge to WebMethods and its competitors. BizTalk could undercut the ability of those vendors to sell to enterprises implementing small- and medium-sized projects, which primarily emphasize productivity, low cost and a short learning curve (advanced enterprise features come second).

    (For related commentary on middleware, see TechRepublic.com--free registration required.)

    Entire contents, Copyright ? 2001 Gartner Group, Inc. All rights reserved. The information contained herein represents Gartner's initial commentary and analysis and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Positions taken are subject to change as more information becomes available and further analysis is undertaken. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof.