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Upstart vendors ready to pick up the slack

Upstart vendors ready to pick up the slack

As software behemoths such as Microsoft, IBM and Sun battle for supremacy in the Web services arena, a number of upstart vendors are also fighting for a piece of the action. A new report suggests that a few of those less recognized companies that supplement the offerings of larger vendors may be positioned for success.

Hot picks from an expert
Of the companies discussed in the Summit Strategies report, analyst Dwight Davis mentioned a few companies that have great long-term outlooks:

  • HandySoft Corp., which specializes in business process management: "They've been around a while, they're moving forward, and I don't see anything that suggests they won't be able to maintain their momentum."

  • Sonic Software Corp., which focuses on integration and messaging: "Progress, the parent company to Sonic, is broadly vested in Web services. It's got some staying power."

  • Blue Titan Software Inc., which specializes in networking and managing Web services: "They seem to be holding steady, and have some good early customers. Blue Titan is on BEA's partner list, so they're going to get some exposure there, and they're working with IBM, which could build into a similar kind of partnership."
  • A report from Boston-based analyst firm Summit Strategies, "Small Vendors Fill Gaps in Web services Fabric," states that smaller firms that effectively fill in the market gaps left by the bigger players may increase the value proposition of Web services and accelerate adoption.

    "There's a lot of functionality tied to Web services delivery that isn't yet being provided by the major vendors in the market," said Dwight Davis, a vice president with Summit Strategies and author of the report.

    Davis said those gaps are concentrated in three general areas: aggregation and routing, integration and process flow, and overall management. However, Davis said it is important not to overemphasize any one category.

    "You could make a case that some companies could fit in multiple categories," he said. "In the near term, some of these companies need to articulate a clearer positioning statement."

    The major vendors do a decent job of offering developer tools to create Web services or wrapper code to componentize existing applications, Davis said, but aggregation and routing companies like WebPutty Inc. and Sarvega Inc. provide the virtual glue to connect Web services once they are built and can help with advanced development.

    Integration and process flow vendors like Avinon Inc. and HandySoft Corp. specialize in smoothing out the connection between business processes and Web services, often picking up where a company like Oracle would leave off.

    Finally, Davis said management companies like Infravio Inc. and Blue Titan Software Inc. can step in to handle anything from overseeing the development of a single Web service to taking on responsibility for the performance of an entire architecture with multiple Web services.

    Davis said these smaller companies are not in direct competition with larger vendors because many aren't in position to recommend an overall strategy and support it with a comprehensive development platform.

    "But, surrounding this core development environment or deployment environment, there are all these adjunct areas -- management, quality assurance, security -- that you need to address if you are serious about building enterprise Web services solutions," said Davis, and it is in those areas that smaller companies are carving their niches.

    Since the Web services market is rapidly evolving, Davis said there is always some risk that smaller companies will be forced out of the market or acquired by larger ones.

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    "Some are promoting themselves as the infrastructure on which you build enterprise-wide mission-critical Web services solutions," he said, "and anytime you get into the mission critical realm when dealing with a small company, you have to be cautions as an IT manager."

    Davis said when a customer is looking to contract a smaller company, it should heed the recommendations of major market players and other vendors it already works with, in addition to performing its own research.

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