But Giga warns exact market usage difficult to gauge
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IBM pulled ahead of BEA Systems in 2002 to gain leadership of the J2EE application server market, according to new research from Gartner Dataquest.
In the Gartner report, Vice President and Research Director Joanne Correia said that in 2002, IBM walked away with 37 percent of J2EE application server market share, with BEA dropping to second with 29 percent of the market.
In 2001, Gartner reported that BEA had 34 percent of market share, with IBM close on its heels with 31 percent.
"The tight horse race that started in 2000 between IBM and BEA was won in 2002 by IBM as they continued to gain market share in all categories of AIM [application integration middleware]," Correia said.
However, an analyst from the Giga subsidiary of competitor Forrester Research said it's nearly impossible to track application server license sales accurately because aside from BEA, companies such as IBM and Oracle don't break out application server sales from their larger software numbers.
John Rymer, a research vice president at Giga, told CRN on Monday that he didn't break out application server market share in his April report on the market because "the numbers are opaque."
"As part of financial reporting, IBM reports on WebSphere, but the brand now includes over 300 products," Rymer said. "How are you supposed to determine [application-server sales]? There's no way to know. You have to guess based on information [the companies] provide to you."
It's also difficult to gauge license sales vs. actual use of the product because some companies, such as Oracle, IBM and Sun Microsystems, bundle their application server for free with other software or hardware products, Rymer said.
Rymer did concede, however, that "IBM is doing [a lot of] business" in the Java software market, adding that the company's latest version of its WebSphere application server is "the best one they've done."
Gartner's research on license sales for other components of the Java enterprise application platform, which includes the application server along with integration and portal software, reflects IBM's thriving software business.
In the new Gartner report, IBM landed the No. 1 position in the portal space with 30.8 percent of the market, with BEA a distant second with 8 percent and Oracle third with 3.7 percent.
IBM also took home the prize in message-oriented middleware with a whopping 80.8 percent of the market, according to the Gartner report. Sun's Sun ONE and Tibco middleware came in at nearly a tie for second, with Sun taking 4.9 percent and Tibco taking 4.8 percent of market share.
Solution providers said BEA WebLogic and IBM WebSphere are the two products customers use most for developing enterprise Java applications but said it's not clearly evident which company has the lead.
BEA remains a favorite in the application server market and continues to do solid business among customers, said Adam Farrell, a regional sales director at Semaphore Partners, a San Francisco-based solution provider.
"From what I understand, they're rocking on sales and closing a lot of deals," Farrell told CRN.
Giga's Rymer said BEA continues to meet its numbers on Wall Street and shows no signs of flagging.