Competition from ISV startups and major vendors heightens challenge
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The rising use of Web services is creating a new opportunity for solution providers specializing in application management.
As applications increasingly are made up of Web services, the management of those components represents a major challenge that a number of startup companies are attempting to meet.
Blue Titan Software, for one, aims to find a niche in providing management for the myriad Web services in IT systems.
Blue Titan's Boonin says need for Web services management is growing.
"We're finding people haven't gone deep enough into projects to know they need to build out management [infrastructure]," said Sam Boonin, vice president of marketing for Blue Titan.
Blue Titan is far from the only ISV trying to tackle Web services management ahead of the demand for the technology. Jason Bloomberg, an analyst with Waltham, Mass.-based research firm ZapThink, estimates there are at least 10 startups focused on some aspect of Web services management.
In addition to Blue Titan, companies such as Adjoin, AmberPoint, Confluent, Flamenco Networks, Grand Central Communications, Infravio, Primordial, Santra Technology, Talking Blocks, Westbridge Technology and WestGlobal have been launched in the past several years expressly to provide this technology.
Other small software vendors, such as Actional and Digital Evolution, also recently entered the Web services management space.
And these companies face even stiffer competition from longtime established vendors including IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Computer Associates International, which have expressed plans to add Web services management capability to existing products.
Bloomberg said startup Web services management players have about "an 18-month window to gain some traction before the big guys dominate their market."
|New Players In The Web Services Management Software Game|
|> AmberPoint||2001||AmberPoint Management Foundation|
|> Blue Titan||2001||Blue Titan Network Director|
|2002||Confluent CORE Web Services|
|> Infravio||1999||Web Services Management System|
|2000||Talking Blocks Management|
|2001||XML Message Server|
|> WestGlobal||2000||mScape Web Services Management platform|
Brad Murphy, senior vice president of strategy and strategic business development at Valtech, a Paris-based solution provider, said the market for Web services management is already saturated. But, he added, as the need for the technology grows, there undoubtedly will be market consolidation.
"We know two things about Web services management now: Customers don't have enough services to require a Web services management infrastructure yet, and the marketplace certainly doesn't need all of the companies started up to serve that future need," Murphy said.
Valtech's Murphy predicted that once larger vendors with network management solutions take over the Web services management space, there won't be much room for smaller companies to play.
"The startups will say, '[The larger vendors] don't understand the space and their products won't be as sophisticated as ours,' " Murphy said. "[But] eventually, those big companies will close that gap. What these new companies hope is they've secured enough critical mass and customers [to compete]."
Among the startup vendors, Blue Titan and AmberPoint both have a decent chance of staying afloat,or at least being acquired by a larger venture,once the need for the technology grows, observers said.
Blue Titan, founded in 2001, already has 20 enterprise customers for its Network Director product, Boonin said.
Blue Titan has hitched its wagon to San Jose, Calif.-based Java software vendor BEA Systems as a "Built on BEA" partner. Boonin said the pact to include Blue Titan's Network Director with BEA's WebLogic middleware solutions has been successful.
In fact, the two companies teamed up recently to provide a network Web services architecture for Sony, Boonin said. Sony is using the architecture to help improve efficiency in its IT departments by sharing services among business units, as well as with customers, partners and suppliers.
While AmberPoint, too, has a strong partnership with BEA,as well as with BEA's Java software rival, IBM,the company also has aligned with software giant Microsoft to provide its technology for customers implementing Microsoft .Net.
Ed Horst, vice president of marketing for Oakland, Calif.-based AmberPoint, said his company supports both the Java and Microsoft development camps because "most customers have a mixture of those" in their IT environments.