Coming together

Software AG’s proposed US$546 million takeover of webMethods has been described as a marriage of geographical rather than technological convenience. The deal would give Software AG an immediate foothold in the US, reportedly doubling its user base there, hence the geographical aspect. In Europe too, Software AG, being a German-based company, tends to be strong in its own rite. But here in the Middle East, it is as much about technology as geography.

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By  Colin Edwards Published  April 9, 2007

|~||~||~|WebMethods has more than 1,500 global customers. Some of them are apparently in the Middle East. The company is pitched as the market leader in the enablement of Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) with its integration and business process management (BPM) solution. Its goal is to reduce complexity all around.

So webMethods excels in BPM and Software AG in SOA, although there is an overlap between the two. United, there is no doubt that the organisation could then soon represent a leading force in the enterprise software world.

At the end of last year, Forester awarded webMethods leadership position in integration-centric BPM in terms of current offering and the strength of its strategy. It nearest rival was TIBCO Software. IBM was a close third. Then came the usual suspects – Oracle, BEA Systems, Sun Microsystems, Microsoft and Software AG in that order.

While IBM, followed by Oracle, BEA, Microsoft, and SAP, had the lion’s share of the market, by virtue of being major players in the field, webMethods and Software AG were considered mid-size players, but with technology superiority.

Software AG’s Crosswire was launched about the same time as it opened its Middle East offices in Bahrain - about a year ago. Both are said to be enjoying regional success and justify the company’s decision to launch its SOA focus from Bahrain. It does have separate offices in Saudi Arabia to serve the Kingdom.

Today its SOA offerings are considered to be the best around at a time when SOA and integration are buzz words. Married with webMethods integration, Software AG offers a formidable alternative to IBM, providing it can dislodge IBM from the early foothold it has managed to secure in the Middle East SOA market.

As Mohammed al Fardan, who heads up the Bahrain operation, says, the takeover will open up many new markets in the region. SOA is considered the viable answer to modernising legacy systems.

Instead of a rip and replace strategy, which most users can ill afford, it integrates disparate solutions in the legacy software world. It would have leadership in both the SOA enabler and the solution markets if they deal gets shareholder thumbs-up.

He considers that 90% of the application running in Middle East enterprises today can be considered legacy, in that, even though they have been updated over time, they are based on old technology.

What is more, he says, Software AG is hardware and platform agnostic, so even though many of the legacy systems tend to run on IBM mainframes, or be based on different enterprise solutions, its middleware means customers no longer have to become 100% dependent on a single vendor.

While the combo would still leave Software AG far behind the giant vendors such as Oracle and IBM, and even specialists such as BEA, it is a move that would take the enterprise one step closer to best-of-breed open SOA, which is something that everyone should welcome.

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