Is Microsoft the New Safe Harbor?

The following is a guest post from Ray Wang of Altimeter Group. I wrote a different title, but otherwise this is as it appears on his blog.

Clients Now See Microsoft As The Neutral Vendor, Hence All The Questions

Just less than 3 years ago, Microsoft was still perceived as part of the “evil” empire.  Business leaders worried about the complicated and expensive licensing and pricing structures.  IT leaders bemoaned the lock-in and proprietary and often buggy software.  But in a reversal of fortune, customers now worry about Google lock-in, fret over Oracle’s quest to dominate IT through M&A, wonder how hardware vendors will become software providers and vice versa, and remain in shock as Apple’s proprietary and closed approach over takes Microsoft’s market cap.

In conversations with 71 business and IT leaders, the perception on Microsoft has definitively shifted.  In fact, more than 74.6% (53/71) see Microsoft as the neutral and trusted supplier.  With an aging and retiring workforce that grew up on IBM and SAP, the next generation of IT leaders increasingly will exert their leadership and run to their comfort zone of Microsoft and Oracle.  (Note: Don’t expect this to last as the next generation of IT leadership comprises of millennials and digital natives who will try to move everything to open source and the cloud.)  Consequently, Microsoft’s technology offerings receive a renewed interest and reinvestment among customers, partners, and critical OEM’s.  Among this group, many are attending TechEd 2010 in New Orleans, LA.  Key questions they will be asking include: Read more of this post

IBM’s Hardware Sneak Attack

From Judith Hurwitz:

Yesterday I read an interesting blog commenting on why Oracle seems so interested in Sun’s hardware.

I quote from a comment by Brian Aker, former head of architecture for MySQL on the O’Reily Radar blog site.  He comments on his view on why Oracle bought Sun,

Brian Aker: I have my opinions, and they’re based on what I see happening in the market. IBM has been moving their P Series systems into datacenter after datacenter, replacing Sun-based hardware. I believe that Oracle saw this and asked themselves “What is the next thing that IBM is going to do?” That’s easy. IBM is going to start pushing DB2 and the rest of their software stack into those environments. Now whether or not they’ll be successful, I don’t know. I suspect once Oracle reflected on their own need for hardware to scale up on, they saw a need to dive into the hardware business. I’m betting that they looked at Apple’s margins on hardware, and saw potential in doing the same with Sun’s hardware business. I’m sure everything else Sun owned looked nice and scrumptious, but Oracle bought Sun for the hardware.

I think that Brian has a good point. In fact, in a post I wrote a few months ago, I commented on the fact that hardware is back.  It is somewhat ironic. For a long time, the assumption has been that a software platform is the right leverage point to control markets.  Clearly, the tide is shifting.  IBM, for example, has taken full advantage of customer concerns about the future of the Sun platform. But IBM is not stopping there. I predict a hardware sneak attack that encompasses IBM’s platform software strength (i.e., middleware, automation, analytics, and service management) combined with its hardware platforms.


SAP Promises Acceleration on a “Clear Path” – Will it Be Enough?

The economic slowdown was not kind to SAP in 2009, and as it launched the annual Influencer Summit on December 8th, change was in the air. Messages were shifting. “Sustainability” got a big push, and there was a ringing commitment to substantial, dramatic product change to be delivered in 2010. Different faces were on display: there was no Leo Apotheker or Bill McDermott on the stage, although Board members Jim Hagemann Snabe and John Schwarz held down the fort with new Marketing EVP Jonathan Becher and CTO Vishal Sikka in key speaking slots. Like the dances I went to in high school, the event was mostly date-free, but direct questions elicited some specific, though uncommitted, statements about deliveries in 2010, especially from Marge Breya. Read more of this post

IBM Showcases Software Vision and Hadoop Research

At IBM’s 8th annual Connect meeting with analysts, Steve Mills, Senior VP and Group Executive, had much to crow about. Software is the engine driving IBM’s profitability, anchoring its customer relationships, and enabling the vaulting ambition to drive the company’s Smarter Planet theme into the boardroom. Mills’ assets are formidable: 36 labs worldwide have more than 100 SW developers each, plus 49 more with over 20 – 25,000 developers in all. Mills showcased all this in a matter-of-fact, businesslike fashion with minimal hype and little competitor bashing. A research project aimed at extending Hadoop usage to a broader audience was among the highlights.  Read more of this post

Sybase’s DBMS Business Shows Sea Legs – But Challenges Lay Ahead

Sybase has rolled out a good Q2 in difficult times, reflecting once again the steady, effective management that has characterized the past few years. All-time highs in margins, earnings, and cash flow – coming at the bottom (one hopes) of the current recession – are nothing to sneeze at. The first highlighted item in chairman John Chen’s earnings call was double digit growth in database license revenue, showing that the flagship still has some sea legs. He claimed 250 new ASE customers in the quarter – “we generally get 800-900 per year,” he added. There were 60 new IQ customers, half of who are non-ASE.  Sybase IQ sees Teradata, Netezza and occasionally Vertica  as competitors. Good performance, but will it be good enough?

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