Enterprise application vendors like SAP, Oracle, PeopleSoft, and Siebel, are on a collision course with infrastructure vendors like IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and BEA. Application vendors are offering infrastructure software that will eventually compete directly with software traditionally purchased from infrastructure providers, namely portal, integration, Business Process Management (BPM), and in some cases, application server technology.
The Bottom Line: CIOs are likely to resist application vendors’ attempts to sell infrastructure technologies. The implementation is not quite what CIOs are looking for, despite looking sound in theory. Still, the continuing clash between infrastructure and application vendors will have a momentous effect on the future of the enterprise technology market.
What It Means: While the infrastructure moves by application vendors promise to exploit existing investments in application software, CIOs are skeptical of the vendors’ ability to deliver truly open and interoperable infrastructure software.
According to the many CIOs, application vendors are claiming that their newest infrastructure technology can help them in several ways by:
SAP is moving in the right direction by offering functionality requested from CIOs, as documented by AMR Research in 2001. The new technology includes frameworks for portals, analytics, process and data management, integration, and composite applications.
Still, it’s not exactly what CIOs want, for a couple of reasons:
In contrast, the Siebel Universal Application Network (UAN) tackles the problem uniquely, offering Business Integration Applications (BIAs) that are built to deploy across multiple integration servers. What’s most appealing is that many application vendors could share the approach, each producing its own BIAs and publishing them to work universally with one another. A network of integration servers from vendors like webMethods, TIBCO, IBM, SeeBeyond, BEA, Microsoft, and Vitria could then coordinate the BIAs.
However, the Siebel approach also has its weaknesses, mostly because it relies on an as-yet unachieved adoption of standards:
Overcoming these problems will require a consortium of vendors, both application and infrastructure, to cooperate. In the best case, this could be a win-win-win scenario for all parties: application vendors, infrastructure vendors, and CIOs. In the meantime, there are steps companies can take now as the hard sell comes their way.
AMR Research originally published this article on 11 February 2004.