Moore on the IT stack

Geoffrey Moore, managing director and founder of TCG Advisors and author of Crossing the Chasm, delivered the closing keynote at IDC Directions yesterday. In his "Industry Blueprint for the Next Decade," Moore gave his prototypical talk on the battle in the marketplace centering on the IT stack.

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Geoffrey Moore, managing director and founder of TCG Advisors and author of Crossing the Chasm, delivered the closing keynote at IDC Directions yesterday. In his "Industry Blueprint for the Next Decade," Moore gave his prototypical talk on the battle in the marketplace centering on the IT stack. The stack, he says, has seen heavy consolidation of power in every layer in recent years, in most cases, around a "gorilla" vendor.

If you're not familiar with his gorilla games idea, Moore defines a gorilla as a company with "dominate market share leader who has proprietary technology with high switching costs," and they are Microsoft, SAP, Oracle, IBM, EMC and Cisco. These are the big winners who often tout their wares as platforms and are trying to marginalize the "chimps," the smaller but meaningful players. >

The current Internet-enabled client-server stack has "openings and instabilities" that are changing the game and ushering in the next generation stack, argues Moore. SOA, he singles out, is the chief disruptor, as are two other destabilizing forces, globalization and outsourcing. Together, these are pushing on the interoperability of the stack, shaking it up and forcing vendors to shift strategies to play the stack again and closing in on some layer or group of layers.

Moore then walked through what he called the "big eight," or key players showing which parts of the stack they "own", or have gorilla status, and which they may be targeting. IBM, for example, currently owns consulting and mainframes, but is eyeing just about all other layers. SAP owns transaction applications but seems to be moving into analytical applications and application server infrastructure. Microsoft is the operating system and collaborative applications gorilla, but is targeting database, and systems management infrastructure, among others. He gave these three plus Oracle, EMC and Cisco high marks for their strategies unlike SUN and HP, two vendors he singled out as having troubles.

He concluded that while gorilla positions are not going to change, we are going to see them attempt to influence the outcome of the architecture evolution. But with SOAs, new platforms will be born giving less or more importance to each of the layers, and the market will decide the winners and losers.