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.
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.)
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