Hurwitz: Application Server Market More Than Just BEA, IBM

Accordingto a recent study by analyst firm HurwitzGroup, Oracle Corp.’s applicationserver technology has been deployed in more Global 2000 organizations thaneither BEA Systems Inc.’s WebLogic or IBM Corp.’s WebSphere, signaling the applicationserver market may be more open to competition than is commonly believed.

Thestudy, "Application Server Market Share – A Different Angle," surveyed 150senior-level IT managers in North America in an effort to find the most widelydeployed application server. Hurwitz did not make distinctions between servercapabilities when asking its sample group about deployments. For example,servers with robust features for working with Enterprise JavaBeans, whichOracle’s application server technology did not have prior to the release ofOracle9iAS, were given equal weight to those without. As such, the study foundof the surveyed companies currently using application servers, nearly 37percent use Oracle, as compared to 27 percent for IBM's WebSphere and 17percent for BEA's WebLogic.

Thoughnot based on revenue either, the study shows Oracle has done an excellent jobpenetrating the application server market, says Evan Quinn, chief analyst forHurwitz. However, he says, when looking at “critical applications, you’ll mostdefinitely find more IBM and BEA deployments.”

Oracleis a proven power in the database industry, which Quinn says has made it anattractive vendor for customers in the application server segment. Oracle9i isthe leading installed database technology among enterprise organizations. IBM’sDB2 database offering, while it too has a strong install base, is not asprominent as Oracle9i among enterprise customers. BEA is not a factor in thedatabase market.

Furthermore,Quinn says prior to the release of Oracle9iAS, “Oracle was an inexpensive,convenient way to get your feet wet.” Oracle, he says, used attractive termsand conditions to get organizations to try its application server technology.

Still,Quinn says the study’s findings must be considered in perspective. He says mostenterprises have deployed all of the leading application servers in onecapacity or another. What the study does indicate, he says, is that theapplication server market is more than just BEA and IBM.

“Dowe think this has come down to just IBM and BEA, the answer to that is mostcertainly no,” says Quinn. “We think that the market, instead of consolidatingdown to just two, is going to become more balanced.”

Quinnsays BEA, IBM and Oracle are obviously the top three vendors in the applicationserver space at this point. But, he says, other vendors, namely Sun Microsystems,Hewlett-Packard Company and Sybase, aren’t going to disappear.

Ascompetition heats up on the application server front, Quinn expectsmarket-leader BEA to be hit the hardest. In terms of revenue, Quinn says themost recent data compiled by Hurwitz shows IBM has already pulled ahead of BEA.

Quinnsays BEA is in a difficult position because the application server market isevolving to encompass more than just server technology. Much of the ancillaryofferings that are now coming into play in the application server space, saysQuinn, BEA will need to either acquire or build, while other vendors like IBMand Oracle already have these pieces in place.

“As this becomes less an application server market andmore of an application infrastructure market, your historical market leader,BEA, is under the most pressure.” – Matt Migliore