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Middleware: Oracle, Microsoft End Up With A Tie For First Place

Oracle and Microsoft tied for first in this year's ARC scores in Middleware. That's good news for Oracle, which took first place last year, but better news for Microsoft, which moved up from third.

Oracle can largely thank its technology prowess for its showing. The company scored an impressive 92.3 in product quality and reliability, significantly ahead of Microsoft and IBM, and outscored its rivals in richness of product features and functionality, technical innovation and service opportunities.

The scores show that Oracle's investments in its fast-growing Fusion Middleware software, through internal development and acquisitions such as the April 2008 buyout of BEA Systems, are paying off.

"We guarantee that each of the product lines is best-of-breed," said Amit Zavery, vice president of product management in Oracle's server technologies division. Oracle's middleware efforts revolve around three principles: development of a comprehensive, end-to-end line of middleware; products that are tightly integrated and so reduce implementation costs; and adherence to industry standards. "That has been the big game-changer for us," Zavery said of the latter.

Oracle also outscored Microsoft and IBM in most partner support criteria, especially in presales support and quality of field management.

But Microsoft pulled higher scores than Oracle in many of the partnership criteria, with the gap particularly large in how the companies manage channel conflict, ease of doing business with the vendor and channel partners' return on investment.

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