Enterprise applications are involved in integrating disparate systems across departments or across companies. Enterprise applications can be used to automate the business processes for a company or to integrate one company’s business applications with its client’s existing applications. EAI tools typically include five technologies:
- Business Process Management
- Message-Oriented Middleware
- Data Transformation
- Message Routing
- Application Adapters
IBM and Microsoft are considered heavy weights of the integration market. Some of the major reasons, of this considerable might of theirs, are their excellent marketing capabilities and well established customer base. One of their base strategies is to bundle up their integration software with the rest of the suite that they provide to the customer. IBM with its prime position in mainframes and products like MQSeries (renamed WebSphere MQ) integrator has a big lead over the others.
TIBCO, SeeBeyond and Vitria have been in this field for quite a long time. SeeBeyond, having been taken over by Sun Microsystems recently, seems to have a bright future. It is quite possible that Sun Microsystems pushes some of SeeBeyond’s prominent features into JSR-208, JAVA business integration specification. TIBCO is one the leaders of the integration market. Its EAI tools like Business Connect and BusinessWorks are quite a hit in the market. Vitria, however, seems to have left behind in this race.
BEA and Oracle are strongest challengers in the EAI scenario. Their strong competitiveness does not only come from the excellent product features but also from their first-rate products already floating in the enterprise software market along with their aggressive marketing strategies.
The advent of web services has changed the scenario of the integration market to a lot of extent with vendors like BEA and webMethods adopting this technology and getting ahead of the competition, and others, which have decided not to go the open standards way, losing in the race. Software vendors, which are pushing their non-standards based EAI tools, will soon be out of this race giving way to their competitors, which give additional product features besides providing the standards implementation.
Buyers focus on the following before implementing any vendor’s integration tool:
- Product features
- TCO of the product
- Support for emerging standards like webservices
- Support for service-oriented architecture
- Possibility of the vendor getting acquired
- Possibility of the vendor going bankrupt
- Possibility of the vendor exiting the market
Taking these parameters into consideration, I believe IBM will continue to rule the roost in the integration market. Microsoft on the other hand has a major disadvantage, as companies prefer products that can run on various platforms and support open systems. BEA seems to have a bright future in the integration market. They are selling their WLI as a part of a platform suite with portal and integration tools keeping weblogic server, market leader in the J2EE server market, as the base. webMethods has packed their product with excellent features and has brilliantly used the webservices tide to get ahead of the competition. TIBCO’s strategy of keeping their product an enigma may hurt their market share in the integration sector even though currently they are considered as one of the market leaders of this sector. TIBCO does not provide any documentation for its product online; as a matter of fact you may not even find a TIBCO book in bookstores. You do not get the documentation until you install the product. Such strategies may kill a brilliant product like TIBCO.
There are many EAI tools in the market and one can write a complete book discussing them all.
EAI will continue to grow till businesses continue to grow. However, it is quite possible that the market is left with just 3-4 dominant vendor companies.