How IBM is #1 in web portal software?

IT analyst firm Gartner, Inc., has ranked IBM as the worldwide market share leader in the Portal Products and User Interaction Tools enterprise software segment. Here is my take –

There is no question on the capabilities and functionalities of IBM WebSphere Portal V 6.1, which is well designed to collaborate the information from users, communities, corporate enterprises, and the Web. I will not discuss the cool and robust features of IBM but will list down the external factors that might have influenced the ranking-

1. Technology: Still the market share of .net is much less than java. IBM being a java based portal and is adopted by organizations who either already have java based software infrastructure or their decisive people are pro-java. I agree with Janus

“Microsoft is known to give away SharePoint like candy, so SharePoint might indeed have less revenue. A substantial portion of SharePoint licenses remain unused.”

Yes, the Adoption of SharePoint (MOSS) is much higher than any portal in the market (07-08), and who does the marketing better than MS, but the point has still not reached where SharePoint can be ranked as #1.

2. Choice: Do customers have choice?..ummm –lets find out-
a) Opensource/Liferay: Even though Liferay is named as the Visionary portal product in Gartner’s magic quadrant, the financial industry has no confidence in this open source portal. On the other hand, IBM software is being used by the top 10 global banks.

b) Sun JES Portal: before the acquisition: The setting sun finally decided to stop the further release if its enterprise portal product (last version 7.2) and decided to contribute towards Websynergy and Webspace (Liferay-Sun combo Prj).

c) Oracle/Weblogic/Webcenter: Oracle invested huge $$$ in their Webcenter portal project but failed to market their so-called strategic portal product. Market still questions Oracle’s portal leadership. With five portal products under its belt, seems like that sale and marketing team is confused on which portal to highlight. I believe that aqualogic and weblogic are doing pretty well but not widely adopted as IBM WebSphere.

3) Leadership/Support/Cost: IBM tops the chart in terms of cost for its product, services and support. Even then, organizations opt for security, availability, collaboration and other web2.0 stuffs over the cost. It might be because IBM promises better ROI. I believe that 2011 will be a crucial year for IBM portal after the economic recession ends as most of the organizations have kept their decisions on hold for buying an expensive portal products.

There can be other reasons as well such as innovations, industry types, underlying architecture etc that might have valued customers more in buying this product.

More information about the report, features, and a case study is here-

Another buyout. Who’s next?

Another big acquisition from shopaholic giant. Finally Oracle bought Sun Microsystems.

Anyways..I’ll leave other analysts to comment on hardware/storage/cloud computing and other areas. I am more interested to speculate the future of software products from Sun, example Sun Portal, Access Manager, Directory Server, and other open source projects. Here is my take in that –

Oracle already have five portals under its belt, out of with they have clearly indicated of taking Webcenter, Aqualogic and Weblogic forward.

With this buy out, Oracle might dispose Sun Portal, as this product from Sun is not doing great from last few years, even after Sun made heavy investments and revamped its portal suite during ’06-07. Sun failed to generate more ROI and is now supporting only its top 100 customers.

I also fear that it might be a dead end for all open source initiatives from Sun, as Oracle has never shown any interest in the Open Source arena. This might badly affect project Websynergy and Webspace (Liferay-Sun combo Prj), NetBeans IDE, PostgresSQL etc.

I think, Liferay is becoming more vulnerable for acquisition by Oracle as Sun had an interest initially and still have few ongoing projects with Liferay.

On the greener side, Oracle will get benefited with Sun’s IDM suite as Access Manager & Directory Server are widely used and now Oracle will have a reply to IBM’s Tivoli suite.

Let’s wait and watch what next will come under Oracle’s Business Process Management tag.

Sun-Liferay and Project WebSynergy

After Sun-Liferay partnership early this year, Sun Microsystems has releases a stable version of a new Portal (from common code base) codename Project WebSynergy. A stable build 2 of WebSynergy is also available for download. Here are some of the new features in this release –

1. Portlet container 2.0: Complaint to JSR286 specs. Built on top of Open Portal Portlet container. Supports expiration and validation of cache, eventing and more advanced IPC.
2. JCR Compliance: Liferay Portal uses Mirage API that enables to use JCR compliant content repository, the same is incorporated in the WebSynergy release.
3. WSRP 2.0 Consumer Support : A WSRP consumer support and a new administration application is added that enables managing multiple WSRP consumers
4. Roller Blog Portlet: The Roller Blog portlet provides integration with Roller Weblogger version 4.0. Using this portlet, portal users can create and manage blogs on a Roller 4.0 server.
5. Presence: Presence Infrastructure also known as RUON has been integrated into Liferay Portal. Not really sophisticated as of now but there are plans to include more presence portlets to provide more presence-aware portal to the end user.

Its not far when a commercial release will be in the market. Surely this will be a big move from Sun’s perspective after a long time as there will be no more Sun JES Releases. This does not mean that Sun will stop shipping Access Manager and Directory Server duo. Both Access Manager and Directory Server are well known in the market and Sun will sell these products separately while relying on the Liferay community to concentrate on the portal side.

I think there is a possibility to see a connector/integration of Liferay Portal with Sun IDM stack in the near future.

RedHat to acquire JBoss

The JBoss war has finally take a not so expected turn when Red Hat announced to acquire JBoss. Red Hat and JBoss have been recognized as open source leaders in their respective domains. The large and vibrant communities around Linux and JBoss prove that the open source development model creates innovative, quality software, while providing a flexible and low cost model for customers. This acquisition is expected to accelerate enterprise adoption of open source infrastructure, and broaden the entire market opportunity for existing and new Red Hat and JBoss partners who are building
value-added enterprise solutions.

RedHat have already tried its hands on middle ware front (Jonas as application server),and much of the R&D was on portal and CMS with no success. With this acquisition RedHat will get a powerful web stack and the customer will get a product with more performance ,security and the branded and well respected support with a low –price.

As far as my speculation, I don’t think that RedHat will offer any support for Windows Version, rather it may stop JBoss’s windows version, because that will effect its own Linux distribution.

Anyways “All well that ends Well” — OpenSource to OpenSource” 🙂

Commercializing Open Source

The cloud thickens on the strategy of the open source vendors….“The enterprise fraternity” are keen on acquiring smaller rival companies with open sourced software and after acquisition, only unveil a part of the software that remained open sourced before, Then doesn’t the whole idea of open source get flouted? Another heating debate could be on the possible reasons for acquiring such firms that are open sourced. Typically, an open sourced company is learnt to be earning from the product’s maintenance, installation and support unlike, their product counterparts that derive from the licensed product copies as well. So, there seems to be a basic clash on the ideals of the two entities. Is this strategy a result of the fear in the biggies that the smaller ones could eventually overtake them as they gather more supporters for open sourced version.

A historical data on some such developments on this front that testify this:-

Oracle acquired Innobase an open source software company and a developer of transactional database technology, the software was distributed under the GNU GPL open-source license and was bundled with MySQL. Currently, it is reportedly in talks to acquire three open-source companies to expand its customer base .In return, it announced a free, low-end version of its database software thus, letting the world know about their commitment to opensource. Oracle also plans to buy Jboss Inc ,another opensource company and a leader in the application server market .

IBM last year bought Gluecode Software,which offers an application server based on apache Geronimo project. The give and take business is not new as IBM bundles with WebSphere, and it contributed an embedded database called Derby to Apache.
Bea Systems open sourced a version of its relational database mapping tool “Kodo” under an Apache license, while continues to offer BEA Kodo under a closed source license.
Sun Microsystems looked at open source community to revive itself , open sourced Solaris and JES.

At some point this may be a good deal for the customer as now they have a quality, open, and a low-priced(a bit more) product which is now backed ie supported by a branded company. So I think the product which was originally “true open source software” turns to have only source open.

My concern is that people who contribute to the open source software (apart from the employees of the open source company) is a vast community of developers, architects, designers who believe in sharing knowledge much to the relief of the smaller firms or developers that cannot afford licensed copies. However, with such moves industry wide, would this give enough leverage & credit to the people who contribute to this wealth of information or who use this information. Wouldn’t then the trend to contribute and share knowledge, then discouraged if this trend of acquiring smaller open sourced cos by the big giants continue?

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