What the Big Vendors Did Last Month and What It Means to You

By Geoffrey James

ORACLE announced it is joining the IBM AIX Collaboration Center (IACC) as a founding partner. As a member of the IACC, Oracle developers will work closely with IBM to more tightly integrate Oracle applications with the current and upcoming versions of AIX 5L, and will continue to deliver Oracle applications on AIX concurrent with their availability on other platforms. Benefits to the customer include greater exploitation of each platform’s virtualization, security and cross-platform portability features.
Our Take: AIX? Didn’t Oracle and IBM just spend millions of dollars to tell us that their strategy was Linux? Now AIX (shades of 1984!) resurfaces with a brand new "collaboration center" (whatever that is), with Oracle supporting an operating system that, at least according to industry buzz, has been dead in the water for years. I’m trying to imagine what kind of software sales pitch would recommend AIX; most IT managers would think that you were out of your mind. Avoid this deal like the plague.

MICROSOFT announced availability of an integrated solution for small-business retailers in the U.S., combining Office Small Business Accounting 2006 with Microsoft Point of Sale or Microsoft Retail Management System. This free software add-in allows retailers to transfer point-of-sale data, such as transactions and purchase orders, directly into their financial management software. In addition, the software is supposed to reduce the amount of manual data entry and more effectively manage cash flow.
Our Take: It’s not like Microsoft to offer something for free – unless the company thinks that a particular market is of great importance. It seems that Microsoft is staking out small business, big time, so you can expect to see them competing in areas where small business is buying IT capabilities. This poses a challenge for any company currently targeting the SMB market, especially since smaller software firms are more likely to be in the path of the juggernaut. If you think you’re going to be selling against Microsoft, you should position yourself into a vertical market, because Microsoft tends to sell horizontally and broad-based. You might also consider becoming a value-added reseller for Microsoft’s products, just in case your own software ends up in their sights.

IBM announced a definitive agreement to acquire the equity of Micromuse, a publicly held provider of network management software used by banks, telecommunications carriers, governments, retailers and other organizations to monitor and manage technology infrastructures. The software is intended to help customers manage increasingly complex IT systems that support the proliferation of voice and video traffic, in addition to data, due to the growing adoption of voice over IP (VoIP), audio and video services delivered over the Internet.
Our Take: This acquisition is interesting not so much because of its content but because it represents a trend that we’ve noticed for IBM to purchase technology. While IBM has gone on software buying sprees before, it has been more than a decade since the company has given its checkbook a good workout in this area. If your firm is looking to cash out – and you’ve got software that’s well positioned (based upon current trends), this may be a good time to approach IBM (or Microsoft) with a buyout possibility.