Summit Strategies Says IBM Is Well Positioned To Overtake BEA As Application Server Leader

New Report Points To IBM's Advantage As Broad-Based Supplier Of Software, Hardware And Services

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SOMERS, NY - 01 Nov 2001: Summit Strategies' new report, "Will Systems Vendors Become Spoilers in the Application Server Market?," says IBM's WebSphere Internet infrastructure software is well positioned to overtake BEA as leader in the application server race.

The report says that as Java-based application servers have become the development and deployment platforms of choice for many independent software vendors and customers, shifts in the market are placing increased pressure on BEA and the other "independent" application server vendors that lack IBM's broad-based portfolio of software, hardware and services.

According to the research firm's vice president and practice director, Dwight B. Davis, "IBM is clearly the best positioned of the major systems vendors to make a run in the application server space.

The company has had three years to hone its product and its strategy, and it continues to announced WebSphere enhancements at an aggressive pace. In addition, IBM has in-house Java expertise that rivals Sun's; and it has been a key player in the development of new standards such as SOAP and UDDI. Those standards and others are already supported in the WebSphere platform. Combine those technical strengths with IBM's legacy base among enterprise customers and its Global Services capabilities, and it seems a good bet to predict that IBM may be the application-server leader a year from now."

Davis says that over the past year, IBM has clearly established WebSphere as its flagship development and deployment vehicle, "posing a clear and present danger to BEA's market share lead. Middleware is about a $10 billion business for IBM, and WebSphere has emerged as one of IBM's primary ways of providing a common face to all of its underlying products. IBM brings some enviable assets to the application-server competitive scene such as its huge Global Services operation and its position as a long-term supplier to enterprise customers around the world."

Application servers as stand-alone products are rapidly becoming commoditized, says Summit Strategies, since customers want complete solutions that integrate other software (databases, portals, systems management, wireless, personalization, etc.) and hardware with their e-infrastructure - all pointing to IBM breadth of products and services.

Summit Strategies says, the "application server as a pure business-logic platform is fading beneath layers of added-on functionality. Every major player in this market is trying to create the most comprehensive -- and most compelling -- suite of software functionality on top of, and adjacent to, the application server itself. The application-server component will still often serve as a key element in clinching a sale, but it will increasingly be obscured by the higher level of functionality it supports. This functionality will often extend all the way to full-blown 'solutions' that include applications as well as the middleware and back-end database components. To these solutions suites, the systems vendors can offer to provide a range of professional services, as well as something the independent application vendors (such as BEA) can't offer: the hardware systems that run all of this software."

Summit Strategies concludes, "The application-server competition is becoming one of aggregating the widest range of pretested and pre-integrated components into a single platform. As this trend continues, the well established systems vendors may prove to be the companies best suited to see the game to its end."

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