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SOA Davids vs. Goliaths: Slingshots at the ready

Are the smaller SOA vendors fretting over their lack of stature in the marketplace? Not according to the answers they give when asked how they compete with software's industrial giants.

Last week we asked Annrai O'Toole, CEO of Cape Clear Software Inc., a loaded question: We saw a lot of large companies gobble up smaller vendors in 2006, is it getting harder for companies like Cape Clear to compete with the leviathans in the marketplace?

There are certainly a number of larger vendors engaging in the SOA Infrastructure market, most of whom are platform vendors with an overarching goal of promoting the use of their platform.
Roberto Medrano
Executive Vice PresidentSOA Software Inc.

"Leviathans are slow and not able to react well, either to market changes or the demanding needs of the majority of customers," O'Toole answered. "It is a tough competitive world, but the smaller companies are using their size as an offensive weapon. We are really close to the cutting edge of the SOA world. It is our exclusive focus. We have seen the mistakes customers make and are better able to help them reap the real business benefits of SOA."

This week, we've asked other smaller vendors in the SOA space the same question. Here are the answers we received:

'SOA 1.0 has failed'
Dado Vrsalovic, President, Cordys North America Inc.

Cordys believes that the promise of SOA 1.0 has failed - SOA is still not widely adopted in Global 2000 companies, standards are not universally agreed upon and the promise of interoperability remains largely unfulfilled. The resulting market shift actually gives Cordys a distinct advantage over both the 'leviathans' and other players in the industry - built from the ground up as a single fully-integrated business process oriented platform, Cordys can deliver greater scalability and reliability with less implementation than competitor platforms, which means Cordys can practically demonstrate ROI in a much shorter timeframe.

Is it really harder to compete?
Ed Horst, Vice President, Marketing, AmberPoint Inc.

It is hard for us to feel like it's getting harder to compete, having just closed a quarter where we had our highest revenues ever, a record number of new customers, announced strategic new partnerships with SAP and Tibco, and had a win ratio of over 90%. Leviathans, while big, are not typically known for being nimble, responsive to a wide range of customer requests or good at digesting their recent meals.

Sometimes the Leviathans help
Dimitri Sirota, VP of Marketing and Alliances, Layer 7 Technologies Inc.

Yes and No. Certainly some stack vendors like IBM have been aggressive and arguably successful about marketing their broad SOA capabilities. Having said that, IBM's efforts have made other infrastructure vendors more aware of SOA opportunities creating new partnering opportunities for vendors like Layer 7.

The answer is no
Alan Himler, CEO, LogicLibrary Inc.

Actually no, we have found that enterprises are usually looking to either "buy into a platform" or choose a best of breed solution to solve their SOA governance needs. Most organizations have opted for the "best of breed" approach, which is good for LogicLibrary. SOA has greatly helped leveling the competitive landscape given that one of its core strengths is interoperability. Based on customer demand, LogicLibrary has been aggressive in providing value added integrations. These existing integrations range from interfaces with platform vendors such as IBM's Rational and WebSphere tools and Microsoft's application development suite to "best of breed" players such as SOA Software and Metallect, to name a few.

The small and agile shall lead them
Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President, SOA Software Inc.

New and emerging markets are always led by small, agile companies with very strong technology solutions that are better than anything offered by large companies with a broad and unfocused product portfolio. There are certainly a number of larger vendors engaging in the SOA Infrastructure market, most of whom are platform vendors with an overarching goal of promoting the use of their platform. SOA Software focuses on delivering platform-independent SOA Infrastructure solutions with registry, repository, policy management, service management and security integrated into a closed-loop solution. The large vendors offer piecemeal solutions, often using components licensed from third parties, focused on their own platform rather than on providing a heterogeneous solution to a heterogeneous problem. SOA Software is focused and agile with our own market-leading technology. We have the name, the brand and the right products as evidenced by more than 150 companies from the Fortune 500 deploying our products.

Large vendors do not pose a serious threat
Atul Saini, President and CEO, Fiorano Software, Inc.

This is an interesting question and something that we've been asked many times in the past.

The short answer is that the larger vendors do not pose a serious threat to Fiorano. A bit of history and background is in order.

In June 2002, Fiorano got a $3.5M deal from POSCO, the world's 3rd largest steel manufacturer, displacing IBM from the account after 12 years. In December 2005, Fiorano got a multi-million dollar deal from the world's second-largest bank, headquartered in London (with significant operations in Hong Kong), being chosen in a direct competition against IBM, BEA, Oracle, TIBCO, Microsoft and many smaller vendors. In August 2005, Fiorano was selected by the world's most valuable company ("the House that Jack Built" ....), again over IBM, BEA and some smaller vendors. In addition, Fiorano is used by VODAFONE in France and Italy, British Telecom in the U.K. and a large number of customers in Asia/Pacific. We have a growing operation in Japan as well, and have customers in Finland, South Africa, Mozambique, Spain, Germany and many other countries in Europe, together with Taiwan and Hong Kong in the east.

So far from being a problem to compete with, the larger companies are having a tough time because:

  • they cannot respond fast enough to customer needs: their support is not the best
  • they need larger deal sizes to survive; for instance, TIBCO has an average deal size of $400K+ and IBM is larger than that for the most part. Fiorano does very well with smaller deals in the $150-250K range
  • they have less innovative technology than that of Fiorano

For more information
SOA worst practices

Why SOA needs IT management

Fiorano has worked out the real secret of large companies: they are easy to compete against since the only real weapon they have is company size. In all other departments (product innovation, quality of support, quality of response times, smartness of engineering talent, etc.), they are behind the curve. So Fiorano has no problem competing against larger companies.

The real secret of competition is copying the business strategy of the competitor. Fiorano has built up - and continues to build up - a good set of global distributors. With each new distributor added to the list, our company becomes that much stronger.

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