IBM and Microsoft, both formidable database vendors in their own right, also have various in-memory capabilities, and it will be interesting to see how prominently they are positioned as the year goes on.
Salesforce.com, Oracle, and SAP get 'social' religion
Those growing weary of the hype over enterprise social networking should gird themselves for much more.
This year, Salesforce.com rolled out a major vision for "social enterprises," wherein companies connect to public social networks like Twitter, build out private social networks and then give their core enterprise applications some social flair.
Its competitors are responding. At the OpenWorld conference in October, Oracle announced the Oracle Social Network.
Other significant moves in social collaboration by ERP vendors included Workday's partnership with Salesforce.com over the latter's Chatter service as well as SAP's reseller agreement with social analytics vendor NetBase and efforts to create a bigger ecosystem around its StreamWork application, said Forrester's Martens.
While no single story stands out as definitive, altogether they should "set the stage for ERP vendors to make a bigger social collaboration statement in 2012 and beyond," Martens said.
The third-party maintenance question remains unanswered
Martens also noted a significant story that didn't happen in 2011: Namely the emergence of clear ground rules for the third-party software maintenance market. Oracle famously sued SAP over actions by its former subsidiary TomorrowNow, which provided lower-cost support for Oracle applications. The case resulted in a $1.3 billion judgment in November 2010 for Oracle, but that was later overturned by a judge and no final conclusion to the dispute seems imminent.
Now observers are looking to the outcome of Oracle's lawsuit against Rimini Street, a third-party maintenance company founded by TomorrowNow co-founder Seth Ravin. However, that matter isn't set to go to trial until later this year.
Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com.