I just received preliminary results back from my 2009 strategy professional survey, which is an annual survey of senior level technology marketers, strategists (people with “strategy” in their title) and C-level executives. This year, I decided to focus a good portion of the survey on the effects of the recession…My sense is that after the tech industry underwent a period of shock at the beginning of the year, conditions have stabilized, and tech companies have incorporated the marco-economic conditions into their strategy.We have 112 responses so far, but this may increase if we keep it in the field.
Following my papers on the future of software and the most recent one on the acquisition of SUN by Oracle, I continue to see signs that point in the direction of reducing the costs of application deployment. The first company that I talked to recently is Phurnace Software. Phurnace is specialized in the deployment of Java EE applications. The solution includes a discovery of the target environment, including the typical configuration settings. Then it does a validity check of all the settings, provide a "what if" sandbox to see the impact of setting changes, deploys automatically the application and finally provide a complete report on what was done. This is already very close to the complete "life cycle automation" concept that I think is the future of software applications. Then I talked to rPath: This is a very similar solution, but the end result is a run-time version of the application that can be deployed as an image on different platforms, from bare metal to virtual environments. rPath has already a number of followers in the ISV world, and is now looking at the enterprise one. Finally I also had a briefing with XebiaLabs in Holland, which appears as a direct competitor to Phurnace.
I have just completed a benchmarking excercise where we invited various IT vendors to tell us about their Channel Incentive Operations as a basis for a research report we will publish in the summer. Many of the vendors we contacted were suprised that we do this type of research at all, but Forrester clients are getting used to this as we expand our library of reports for vendor strategists. Those vendors who did talk to us get, in return for their providing us highly-sensitive operating cost and headcount data, illuminating benchmark feedback so that they have an idea of how they operate compared to their peers. The feedback phase starts next week and we have 10 vendors in the benchmark so a good comparison can be made. The funniest interview was with a very high ranking executive of one vendor (so clearly, they thought it was important to talk to Forrester) who then had to tell me every five minutes, "I am sorry, we cannot give you that information" -- a total waste of his and my time.
In our prospecting for interviews, several vendors told us that they did not wish to participate in this excercise, which is reasonable, but nobody told us never to come back with another idea.
During my research into the emerging market for IT financial management software (which I will be publishing on shortly, together with my colleague, Peter O’Neill), I came a cross another interesting software niche market: Cash and liquidity management software. Unlike IT financial management, this is obviously not restricted to IT but targets overall business performance across all industries. To give you an idea, vendors in this space include Infor, Microsoft, Oracle, Sage, SAP and SoftM. In today’s economic situation, these systems seem to create quite some traction.
Now here are the questions to you, Tech Industry strategy professionals:
Do you think this a market worth looking at from an analyst viewpoint?
Is it going to develop into a standalone software market, or is it going to be absorbed into general ERP systems?
Integration as a Service, another milestone in the industry’s move towards platform as a service (PaaS) paradigms.
Forrester talked to Trisha Gross, CEO of Hubspan, a provider of SaaS-style business integration solutions who today announced a partnership with IBM’s software group.
Hubspan is an innovative integration service provider founded in 2000. They have successfully developed an integration-as-a-service solution which runs basically as an Internet Service Bus, providing similar features to traditional ESBs, but this time transparently inside and beyond the boundaries of a customer’s corporate IT environment. Hubspan’s new effort under the name Webspan is a joint solution with IBM.
This week, IBM introduced its first two IT management appliances targeted at small and medium businesses. These first two solutions are part of a family that will eventually cover all the IT management needs of an enterprise, and cover availability and performance (IBM Tivoli Foundations Application Manager) and service desk IT services (IBM Tivoli Foundations Service Manager). The benefits expected are a rapid deployment at a lower cost due to the inclusion of automated configuration and deployment solutions. by itself, this is not really new and neither is it a complete revolution. Years ago, Oculan (now part of Raritan) and off shout of the Open NMS effort, presented a network management appliance for SMBs, with a similar strategy: sell exclusively through partners who can add their own flavor of services to the solution.