Battleground Mid-Market / Middleware 2008 – Oracle vs. SAP…

The big boys have been in acquisition mode for a number of years and from what I can see it is not letting up.

Acquisitions have centered on critical business applications such as ERP systems, SCM, CRM and now Middleware. What the heck is Middleware anyway?

At its most basic level it’s the glue that brings the database and the application layers together. It’s about delivering and deploying information in the context necessary to make good decisions. It is business intelligence or BI (Last week SAP acquired Business Objects) that serves up information on dashboards. It’s content or document management where you can store and find information in any format imaginable. And finally it’s process management – just today, according to Computerworld , SAP announced that it will be acquiring Business Process Management firm, Yasu.

And of course, this conversation would not be complete without dropping in the current darling of the Middleware space – SOA or Service Oriented Architecture.

This architecture allows “Software capabilities [to] be connected to one another easily, enabling the efficient movement of information between applications,” according to the document, Introducing Infor Open SOA.

It is no small wonder that Larry Ellison has his sights set on BEA, because in my opinion, a properly implemented SOA could be the killer middleware component. You really should ckeck out Oracle’s list of Middleware components.

Specifically, if a software company could take SOA technology and integrate it into its family of applications, a customer could literally implement an ERP system ONCE and just add capabilities as the company grows without ever having to implement an ERP system again. I know it’s a crazy assertion, but that’s where I see it going…

So the acquisitions continue to happen, database, enterprise system and middleware applications are owned by fewer companies and these now bigger companies are offering products that appeal to a larger audience.

It’s not like ERP companies that once exclusively sold product to the Fortune 500 / 1000 companies have a choice…

The largest companies have been saturated with enterprise solutions for a while. So the Small and Mid-Market sectors will continue to be where the software providers gain market share.

I am not yet convinced that SAP, Oracle and other Tier 1 providers are where Small and Mid-Market business should spend ERP dollars. Organizational / user needs, implementation and consulting models are entirely different for a smaller enterprise than for a larger company.

This consolidation has been going on for a while. Let the market decide.

While our choices might become fewer as to the company we select, my hope is that overall software capability will continue to provide us with greater business agility.


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