According to a report released by Ovum, the UK market research company, the middleware market is set to grow by around 200 per cent to more than $3 billion by the end of the decade. According to Ovum, the report reviews the level of support and services provided by middleware product vendors. The first issue of the report concentrates on database connectivity middleware, claiming to look in detail at the strengths and weaknesses of the five main companies in the market: Information Builders, Intersolv, Oracle, Platinum and Sybase.
According to the report, the greatest contrast in companies is between Sybase and Oracle. Sybase now sees middleware as its key differentiator, with middleware creating most of its revenue growth.
"Sybase has set itself an ambitious target of integrating its entire middleware range," explained Rosemary Rock-Evans, the report's lead author, who added that, while she was impressed with Sybase's plans, "I feel they are over-ambitious in their time scales and lack foresight in terms of technology."
According to Rock-Evans, Oracle, meanwhile, is billed as regarding middleware as an enabler and sells it with its DBMS (database management system). The report notes that Oracle does not place special emphasis on middleware as a key differentiator, despite earning $148 million solely from sales of SQL-Net. "Oracle may be missing an important marketing opportunity here," she said.
Overall, the report found that the database connectivity products of the five firms were impressive. Nevertheless, it maintains the view of Ovum's 1995 report, Middleware: the key to distributed computing, that present database connectivity products are tactical, rather than strategic - ie they provide a tactical solution to the limited problem of access to heterogeneous data.
This means, Ovum claims, that users may have to look at other forms of access middleware to support distributed architectures. To counter this limitation, vendors are looking to other middleware technologies to extend the scope of their connectivity products, for example:
Sybase plans to incorporate asynchronous processing,Oracle already has a message-oriented middleware (MoM) product - Oracle mobile agents - which enables a client to forge asynchronous links with application services,Information Builders has announced an alliance with Momentum, which will result in the merging of functionality between EDA/SQL and Momentum's MOM package, X-IPC.
Ovum Evaluates: Middleware by Rosemary Rock-Evans, edited by Eric Woods, is available now, price $3,595 in Australia.