Real Battle Royale In Apps Market - InformationWeek

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Real Battle Royale In Apps Market

In the applications arena, big changes in terms of platforms, software delivery and packaging, and the market's key players are under way. Take a look at these five hot-button issues in the software space.

*Editor's Note: This is the third of 10 installments of our 5 Hot-Button Issues series, in which we spotlight five things solution providers should keep an eye on over the coming year in various IT and channel categories.

Businesses are run by a menagerie of application software -- databases, spreadsheets, word processors, ERP systems et al -- typically sitting on a variety of PCs and servers.

Yet in the applications arena, big changes in terms of platforms, software delivery and packaging, and the market's key players are under way. Take a look at these five hot-button issues in the apps space.

1. Open Source, Proprietary Or A Mix
Software code -- how it is written, licensed and paid for (or not) -- continues to be a big issue for partners, vendors and customers.

The various license models, some of which require any core code changes to be shared with the community at large and some of which allow intermingling of open and proprietary code, remain a hot topic of conversation. Continued worry about possible liability for using code of unknown provenance still dogs some large companies.

Smaller companies -- Scalix, MySQL, Sun Microsystems, Open-Xchange, Novell -- all field viable alternatives to popular desktop productivity and other tools from Microsoft. The question is whether these "open-sourcey" alternatives can steal appreciable market share or even force Microsoft to be more accommodating on pricing and licensing.

2. Best-Of-Breed Vs. Suites
Microsoft isn't the only company offering a near-complete application stack. Oracle is pitching its own stack, as is SAP and -- to an extent -- IBM.

These companies insist that partners and buyers want the ease and integration of a software stack from one company. Some corporate buyers might hesitate to put so much of their IT budget into one vendor, however.

Oracle's purchase of PeopleSoft, then Siebel Systems and, to a lesser extent, its buyout of smaller players like Oblix and Retek are part of its aggressive attempt to build a soup-to-nuts stack. Microsoft's acquisition roster includes small security and e-mail companies like FrontBridge, GeCad and Sybari.

SAP's acquisitions include A2i, Khimetrics, Praxis and others. IBM has likewise been on a multiyear buying binge to bolster its information management and network management portfolios.

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