In the old days, IT industry players were all about proprietary systems. The plan was to get the customer locked in to a particular company and to make it trouble for them to work with any other vendor. Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) had their line of stuff, HP had theirs and Big Blue stuff set the pace for not working with anyone else. About the time of the UNIX client / servers, TCP was invented and cleaned up enough to connect a few computers. This changed the social environment as well, as customer demanded the ability to move their files around multiple systems. Over the years, as engineers in various companies emailed each other and the seeds of Open Source blossomed into some pretty interesting projects like LINUX, cooperation and interconnectedness became the watchword.
It used to be the news organizations loved a good fight. How David went after Goliath. How the little software company went after the big mean software company and won. Adversity is supposed to be good for the company organism. Make the little guys bigger and keep the behemoths fit. This kind of thinking has become outdated. What's making everyone stronger is cooperation. I can see this on a micro scale on my new iPhone. One of the things I like about it is all the little applications talk to each other. If I bring up a web page with a phone number, clicking on the number dials it. You can see it on a more macro scale in IT where you see services like SalesForce integrating with Google Apps.
So, it may be fun to think about and talk about rivalries, but that's not necessarily the biggest win for the customer IT shop. As an example, lots of shops have one, and sometimes more than one, of the big 4 – OpenView Tivoli, BMC, Unicenter, enterprise management systems. Their deployments are often incomplete. It's fun to think of monitoring tools like Hyperic, Groundwork, and Zenoss displacing the big fellers in a fair fight and do sometimes replace them. However, what can be a bigger win for everyone is involved is cooperation. Each tools has a little different capability that can file a niche in IT that's valuable. Imagine a shop that's spent a million dollars and a lot of time on a big tool. They are not too happy to declare failure and replace it, but they often aren't getting all the value they'd hope for. What's great about the smaller tools is they can often be deployed in support of the big tool, cooperatively, and the customer gets a successful big tool and gets great value from what the smaller tool does. It's a win for everyone.