Gartner has reported a shift in the way middleware and application platforms are being purchased, revealing a bigger focus on subscription-based licensing and open-source platforms.
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The analyst reported that revenue in the worldwide application infrastructure and middleware (AIM) software market totalled $23.8bn in 2014, an 8% increase from 2013.
"The largest AIM suppliers are increasingly being challenged by providers such as Salesforce and SAP," said Fabrizio Biscotti, research director at Gartner
"At the same time, and as the cloud value proposition becomes more clear, many platform as a service [PaaS] providers such as Google, Engine Yard, Informatica and Dell Boomi are a threat to established players."
Biscotti said organisations running brand-new integration projects are looking at cloud or open-source software platforms rather than the big five middleware providers. “ If you are building an integration hub for a stock exchange, then you’ll use the big players,” he said.
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But this is a limited market, and SMEs as well as business units in larger organisations are increasingly turning to products such as the Salesforce1 integration platform.
Biscotti said: "Salesforce is the fourth-largest provider. The Salesforce1 application Paas made Salesforce $714m in 2014. It is being sold to existing customers. Fortune 2000 organisations are now looking at the Salesforce application Paas, which has previously been sold mainly to mid-market organisations."
Part of the attraction is that such platforms are less complex to implement compared with traditional enterprise middleware, and the fact that they can be bought through a subscription service. Biscotti said line-of-business managers in Global 2000 organisations are interested in fast IT deployments, so they are turning to application Paas solutions.
Worldwide supplier revenue for total AIM software, 2014 (millions of dollars)
Source: Gartner (April 2015)
Gartner also found that open-source software and providers such as MuleSoft, Talend and Liferay are putting further pressure on incumbent enterprise middleware suppliers. Such providers generally specialise in niche but rapidly growing technology areas, including in-memory data grids and low-latency messaging.
The trend towards open-source middleware has been helped by greater confidence among buyers in the maturity of open-source software and suppliers. "In the past, you could not rely on open-source software for mission-critical applications, but this has changed in the last three years," said Biscotti.
This has resulted in more adoption of open-source middleware. For instance, Biscotti said $140m out of the $180m that Red Hat made on its middleware software came from sales of its application platform.