Notes from the Software AG Conference

The company has made some good moves, but there is some more work to be done

OK, I'm back from the Software AG Conference in Miami. Had a good time. I rarely go to vendor conferences, just don't have the time these days, but I wanted to see what Software AG was up to. Moreover, they were great hosts.

Just going back a bit, and full disclosure, back in 1997 I joined a new company called SAGA Software as its first CTO, which just acquired the Software AG business for North and South America, and Japan. Long story short, we took the company public in 1997, moved it into the EAI space, and sold it back to Software AG in 2000. A week after that deal was done, I was CTO of Mercator (now part of IBM).

Using its legacy Adabas and Natural business as a base, Software AG built up its momentum moving further into the integration space and then into the SOA space. This was done largely through the acquisition of WebMethods, who had recently purchased Infravio. With that purchase, Software AG was overnight one of the larger SOA players, now in the same league as IBM, Oracle/BEA, and Progress Software.

OK, now that I caught you up, what now? There is both good news and areas for improvement.

The good news is that the company has made a great deal of progress in driving into this space in a relatively short amount of time. It's nice to move into a new and innovative area when you have a base of legacy products that are cash cows to fund that movement. Same case with IBM and Oracle/BEA. While at the time of acquisition, WebMethods had drifted off course a tad, if you ask me, it had and has well-tested and valuable products. I should know, I competed with them for six years as the CTO of competitors. So, some good strategic moves there.

One of a few suggestions I would make is that like many of the larger SOA players out there, the company needs to get much clearer about the direction of its SOA technology strategy going forward, inclusive of where the technology is applied in order to form a true strategic solution. With many products in the portfolio, you quickly get into the game of where each fits as a tactical solution versus how all this stuff works and plays well together in much longer-term and higher-value architectural strategy.

Indeed, the opportunity for the larger players, such as Software AG, is to provide strategic technology and resolve problems that run deep into the existing enterprises out there, lining up with their architectural lifecycle technology requirements. Those who figure that out first will win the game.