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SOA showdown: David meets Goliath

It's David against Goliath. Annraí O'Toole, Chief Executive Officer of Cape Clear Software, is taking on IBM in a battle for the future of SOA. What makes this interesting is that most companies of Cape Clear's size and stature (which is to say, small) are going out of their way to align themselves with Big Blue.

It's David against Goliath. Annraí O'Toole, Chief Executive Officer of Cape Clear Software, is taking on IBM in a battle for the future of SOA. What makes this interesting is that most companies of Cape Clear's size and stature (which is to say, small) are going out of their way to align themselves with Big Blue. Not Annraí. He's using his company blog and all the other marketing tools at his disposal to bring the titan down -- or at least, bring down the buyer's costs.  

"We set out to radically simplify this whole middleware muddle," he explains, pointing to Cape Clear's Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) product and agile approach to implementation. "We believe you can build complex systems in less time and at less cost. You don’t need an army of people to make that happen."

O'Toole argues that IBM has ceased being innovative on the software front. He thinks its product organizations are "carrying 20-30 years of software baggage and they are offering their customers nothing new."

Result? Customers spending "an absolute fortune on software and an even bigger amount on services from IBM to actually get anything to work," he adds. "And so, we’re coming along and saying it’s about time to re-inject a bit of innovation and actually give customers some real choice based on some real software that solves their problems quicker, better, faster. We’re out there and we are deliberately taking an anti-IBM approach. It isn’t about people. It isn’t about an army of consultants. It isn’t about that other IBM. It’s about great product … totally based on open standards, embodying a whole new architecture and a whole new way of thinking about tying systems together and exposing them as services."

It isn't easy being David, of course. No one, as they say, ever got fired for betting Goliath will crush the little punk. What's more, not all IT decision-makers and decision-influencers crave simplicity. Complexity, as many have decided, is their real meal ticket.

But something is changing in the marketplace, says O'Toole. "Now IT is being driven increasingly by business. The business people are banging on the table saying they want things done faster and cheaper." Cape Clear, in fact, now has an impressive set of clients.

All that said, David actually has a healthy respect for his giant opponent and can appreciate the irony of IBM's mere existence being his best marketing weapon. As O'Toole puts it, "Their vindication of the [SOA] category is fantastic."