According to market share figures for the 1996 worldwide market share for Object Request Broker technology published by IDC yesterday (CI No 3,238), the league table for vendors doing well in this emerging market goes Iona Technologies Ltd well in front with 30% of the market, followed by telecomms specialist TCSI Corp (21%), BEA Systems […]
According to market share figures for the 1996 worldwide market share for Object Request Broker technology published by IDC yesterday (CI No 3,238), the league table for vendors doing well in this emerging market goes Iona Technologies Ltd well in front with 30% of the market, followed by telecomms specialist TCSI Corp (21%), BEA Systems Inc (16%) and Visigenic Software Inc holding fourth slot with 11%. Absent from the list: Expersoft Corp, the small (circa $5m revenue, 65 staff) San Diego ORB vendor that two months ago (CI No 3,206) announced it had secured $6m funds (from a still unnamed mysterious backer) to majorly amplify its marketing message volume.
By Gary Flood
Expersoft’s way back to achieving both mind- and marketshare is now slowly coming into focus, and if you thought its marketing secret weapon was going to be just a few more banner ads and presence at trade shows, you’d be mistaken. For now it turns out that Expersoft will next week announce a move to ally the Common Object Request Broker Architecture (Corba) world with the high- end message-oriented middleware universe. This from its Director of Marketing Pat Michalowski, who explains how eight-year old Expersoft fumbled the ball and let companies like Iona and Visigenic get all the attention. The reasons partly stem from the company’s roots in aerospace; the founders, who had written a software environment called Eggshell to speed development of distributed computing applications, originally steered an independent path, avoiding commitment to Corba until 1993.
Though the company claims to have won significant deals in its chosen fields of financial trading, telecommunications, electronic commerce, insurance, and high technology consulting, it decided to go with the flow in 1993, subsequently becoming something of an Object Management Group cheerleader (with lots of work with OMG on areas such as defining COM-Corba interworking, and it is now very active in the work going on defining a Corba- messaging standard). This occurred in parallel to the closely- held firm introducing its Corbaplus ORB family of products four years ago. The product line now includes the Corba version 2.0 compliant ORB itself, with C++ and Java subdivisions, plus Microsoft ActiveX and COM bridges, Transaction Service (an object-oriented transaction processing system), and Extended C++, some add-on tools for C++ programmers. In June (CI No 3,113) it unveiled version 2.1 of Corbaplus, which included integration of Rogue Wave class libraries. Michalowski claims Expersoft has always targeted the higher end of the market, pointing to its partnerships with big-ticket consulting firms such as Andersen Consulting and Sapient. And it has been with such partners that Expersoft has been able to win what it claims are exemplar sites where its Corba implementation is proving the lie that ORBs are really more for departmental, workgroup, or pilot rollouts. For example, Michalowski claims deployment of 2,200 seats at Goldman Sachs (for its fixed income trading system), and if a current project being undertaken at insurers All State goes through, by 1999 there will be a nationwide Corba system rollout for 40,000 users.
Top down marketing approach
To win such deals Expersoft decided on a top down marketing approach the past eighteen months, trying to convince CIOs and very senior IS directors that its approach was most scalable. Indeed, it even, fairly ambitiously for a company with no non-US offices and no plans for any other international presence than distributors, compiled a list of the Expersoft 100 target accounts in the Global 1,000 trading organizations. But it has been hoist by its own petard; in doing so, it neglected completely the developer market, where Iona has doen so well, in Michalowski’s own words. While it continues to try and fill the Expersoft 100 list – still a slow build – Expersoft has rejigged its telemarketing and other direct channels to try and get back in the game. But as noted, it is
also trying to add a technology swing to its attempt to get higher in the IDC all-star table. This seems to be its attempt to build a hybrid message oriented middleware (MOM)-Corba strategy, promising very tight integration and the best of both models. But as noted before, (CI No 3,206) there seems to be some conflict between the two camps – with middleware mavens looking down their noses at all this allegedly non-prime time object stuff, and those guys dissing MOM as inflexible. There are deficiencies in every middleware category of products, but bringing the two together hedges the bet considerably, says Michalowski diplomatically. But other folks – such as IBM, BEA, and even Tibco Software Inc (CI No 3,216) – have also spotted the coming gap of bringing the two types of middleware together. If Expersoft has been chewed up somewhat in the small ORB market, how can it hope to establish itself against these mighty bears? We have some work to do in re-establishing ourselves in the market, admits Michalowski, but when asked how, he falls back on Expersoft’s default philosophy – that it alone has the technology to offer a strong technical solution. When more details are announced next week we should be in a better position to assess if Expersoft has a chance of really establishing a strong independent brand, or whether its destiny lies in becoming part of a bigger (MOM?) conglomerate.