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InfoQ Homepage News Commentary on Software AG/webMethods Acquisition

Commentary on Software AG/webMethods Acquisition

InfoQ’s Stefan Tilkov had a chance to talk to Anne Thomas Manes, research director with analyst firm Burton Group, about Software AG’s acquisition of webMethods. Anne gave her opinion on the overlap in the companies’ product portfolios, future directions for their registry/repository products, and the effects on Software AG’s position in the market.

InfoQ: What’s your take on the Software AG/webMethods acquisition?

Anne Thomas Manes (ATM): As Software AG says, it’s a major step on their road to becoming a € 1 Billion software company. And from a practical perspective, it gives them a significant presence in the North American market. webMethods has been experiencing some profitability issues this year, but revenues are holding steady, and the revenue mix (license/maintenance/services) is good. My guess is that Software AG’s revenue, profit, and marketshare will significantly benefit from the acquisition.

InfoQ: How much overlap do you see in the companies’ respective products?

ATM: The product portfolios are similar, but different enough that they can be considered complementary. Software AG’s crossvision is to IBM WebSphere ESB & Process Server as webMethods Fabric is to IBM Message Broker. They address a different scale of problems. There are definitely cross-sell and up-sell opportunities.

InfoQ: Where do you see IBM’s and Software AG/webMethods’ respective strengths? Can SAG compete with IBM, and if so, what are the main selling points?

ATM: It is very difficult to compete with IBM. IBM dominates the superplatform market and continues to gain marketshare. IBM has the broadest product portfolio of all superplatform players, plus it has one of the largest professional services organizations. As the old saying goes, no one ever gets fired for going with IBM. Nonetheless, IBM’s massive product portfolio is not especially cohesive, and a professional services contract often accompanies the license sale. The smaller vendors typically compete by offering simpler, less expensive, best-of-breed solutions with a more integrated out-of-the-box experience. Software AG has its work cut out for it to implement a cohesive experience for the new combined portfolio.

InfoQ: What about the rest of SAG/wM’s portfolio?

ATM: The only area of significant competition is in the SOA governance market — specifically Software AG CentraSite and webMethods Infravio X-Registry. Both vendors are significant players in this emerging market. Combined, they take second place in the market after HP, and they put IBM into a distant third place. The questions are whether they can hold this position, and what do they plan to do in the future. For the immediate future they will maintain both products. (They both have a strong pipeline.) But it doesn’t make sense to continue investing in both.

InfoQ: SAG points to JAXR as a unifying factor between the two registries, and argues that this will make convergence easier.

ATM: I think the point is that the architectures of the two products are quite similar, and that always makes convergence easier. They both use the JAXR data model internally. There are fundamental differences between the products, though. In particular, CentraSite is built on an XML database (SAG’s Tamino), and X-Registry is built on a relational database via JDBC.

InfoQ: So what’s your guess — which of the two registry/repository products will survive?

ATM: My guess is that Software AG will produce a hybrid of the two — taking the best features from each. I also assume that Software AG will provide migration tools to help clients migrate from the current product implementations to this future hybrid.

InfoQ: Thanks for your time!

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