Big Blue to claim superiority...Services giant IBM is gaining ground in the application server market and could be set to overtake incumbent middleware vendor BEA. A recent report from Salomon Smith Barney on the major application server market players reports that IBM doubled its market share in the past year to place it on an equal footing with middleware veteran BEA. And according to Salomon Smith Barney's findings the trend looks set to continue. A quarter of the 57 companies surveyed said they planned to standardise applications on IBM's websphere platform, while just five per cent opted for BEA's weblogic platform. Microsoft, typically considered a player for the SME market, also figured in the enterprise sector, with 68 per cent of respondents claiming they would consider deploying applications on the .Net platform, over IBM's Java-enabled platform. But Tony Occleshaw, regional marketing manager for IBM software, said he did not see the company as a competitor. "Microsoft missed the internet," he said. "The .Net platform is only for Windows and the internet is a heterogeneous platform. Windows is not running ebusiness - Unix and Linux is." Oracle, which recently took a bashing from Gartner research over its application server offering, did not figure in the survey as a market competitor. However, in a retort to the Gartner report, posted on Oracle's website, the company said its Java compatible platform would rival IBM and BEA.