BEA holds application server market lead, but revenues fall

BEA Systems Inc. held a wide lead in the Unix and Linux portions of the application server software market in North America in...

BEA Systems held a wide lead in the Unix and Linux portions of the application server software market in North America in 2003, but its overall revenues in the market shrank by 4.3%, while IBM's grew by 6.45%, according to a report released by IDC.

BEA is still the application server software market share leader in North America, however, with 30.6% of the market compared to 27.6% for IBM, according to IDC.

On Linux systems, BEA revenues grew 166.2%, from $15.7m (£8.5m) in 2002 to $41.8 (£22.7m) in 2003, giving BEA a 25.2% market share for application servers on Linux last year. But IBM also grew, from $7.6m in 2002 to $19m last year, a growth rate of 148.3% that gave the company a market share of 11.5% in Linux.

Oracle’s market share on Linux was 10.3% in 2003. But revenues grew 122.4% from $7.7m to $17.1m. JBoss Group., which offers its application server through a free, open-source format but sells maintenance services, saw its Linux revenues grow from $300,000 in 2002 to $2m in 2003, a growth rate of 614.2%, according to the report.

In Unix, BEA had 40.1% of the market last year, far ahead of IBM, with 18.8%. But BEA’s Unix revenues dropped 13.4% in Unix, to $225.3m, as opposed to $260.2m in 2002.

However, such comparisons in the application server market can be misleading, said the report's author, Dennis Byron, business process automation and deployment software research analyst at IDC.

“Oracle bundles its integration server and even its portal into what it calls an application server.

 “I think the strategy of bundling together their integration server and application server products is a good one,” Byron said. “[Oracle is] the best one at looking at what Microsoft is doing in this market and trying to react to it.”

Byron cited a June IDC media release that reported 4.4% growth to slightly more than $7bn in the worldwide application deployment software market, which includes application, web and integration servers, and message-oriented, transaction-server and access-integration middleware.

When looking at Linux and Unix-based application deployment software markets, BEA continued to hold leads in both. Oracle, however, grew at a rate of three times the market average, according to IDC.

Overall, on all operating environments, revenues for application server software by BEA in North America reported in the study were down from $313.8m in 2002 to $300.5m last year. BEA had application server software revenues of $319.1m in 2001. IBM has seen application server revenues grow from $204.6m in 2001 to $254.6m in 2002 and $270.9m in 2003.

Coming in third was Oracle, which had a 17.4% market share and saw total North American revenues grow 11.2% in 2003 to $170.8m. The company had application server sales of $153.6m in 2002 and $156.4m in 2001. Behind Oracle was Sun Microsystems, with 4.9% market share, a drop of 10.9%. Sun has seen revenues slip from $105m in 2002 to $54m in 2002 and $48.1m last year. IDC attributes this to pricing and bundling strategies at Sun, including integrating software packages together as one system.

Microsoft is listed in the study as having $4.8m in application server software sales in 2003, up from nothing for the previous two years. These revenues result primarily from support of business process automation marketing efforts, according to IDC.

IDC’s study specifies that application server software platforms supply a minimum set of services for deploying interoperable components. Application server products perform functions such as business logic and event monitoring integration and/or transactional and analytical application integration. Java, while the basis of application server platforms from companies such as BEA and IBM, is not specifically cited in IDC’s market definition.

Worldwide in 2003, IBM lead the pack in application server software with $630m in sales, followed by BEA with $566.9m. But IBM’s sales were bolstered by $94.5m from its mainframe systems. Oracle took third place with $417.7m in sales globally.

Overall, application server software sales in North America and worldwide were flat for the year 2003 over 2002, but this actually represents a recovery from market deflation from 2001 to 2002, according to IDC.

Paul Krill writes for Infoworld

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