Sunday, February 01, 2004

Analysis of Orchestration Space

I know it isn't traditional to post your competitive analysis - but I'm not very traditional. Here is a copy of my internal analysis of the orchestration space (from an OpenStorm perspective).

You were asking about competition. Here's a breakdown:

High-end EAI: (SeeBeyond, Tibco, Vitria, WebMethods.)
Big 3 (IBM, BEA, MS)
BPEL Pure Plays (Collaxa, FiveSight, Vergil, Choreology)
Web Service Networks with BPEL (GrandCentral)
Workflow (Dralasoft, Reactor)
Pure play BPM (Lombardi, Fuego, Savvion, Intalio)
JMS and ESB providers (SpiritSoft, Sonic, Fiorrano)
Web Service platform providers (Systinet, CapeClear)

The fact is... orchestration is a sweet spot and people are looking at it from many different angles. Here's my take on how it might play out:

High-end EAI - These guys are having a hard time competing on cost and putting together a message that doesn't bastardize their current high-end revenue stream. They will likely take a 'wait and see' attitude towards orchestration, putting out an offering, but not really marketing it. It is likely that they will spread some FUD about orchestration, saying it is slow or lacks functionality and that their proprietary offerings are more 'seasoned'. Ultimately they will have to play in the game or will become outdated.

The Big 3 (IBM, MS, BEA) have a different story to tell. Their story is "Orchestration is great, but it is only a small piece of the puzzle". They won't try to have the best orchestration offering, just one that integrates into their stack the best. IBM shops will want IBM, MS shops will want MS... These guys will get a significant piece of the pie; they always do - people buy here for peace of mind. BEA may have a bigger challenge; their offering lacks substance and BEA doesn't have the clout that MS or IBM have.

BPEL pure plays - perhaps a more interesting category. Collaxa came out with an early lead but then went on to put out 14 or so betas and still haven't knocked it out of the park. Vergil, Choreology and FiveSight are all still a bit early - mostly in stealth. Thus too early to tell. Expect to see these guys either partner, strategic partner or drop into a niche market.

Web Service Networks - A couple of months ago Grand Central announced that their web services network would support BPEL. Although I'm not sure, it appears as though they rolled their own implementation of BPEL - which would be odd for an infrastructure provider. The implementation had a significant number of non-standardized extensions which I believe they needed to more fully support their existing network. Maintaining a BPEL engine is a bitch - in the long run, I would expect GC to OEM an engine from somewhere else - unless they are getting out of the ASP market all together.

Workflow - Workflow and Web Service Orchestration may seem like a similar problem, but in reality they are very, very different. Some of the vendors that claim features similar (but different) will likely confuse uneducated buyers -but the customers that we want will know the difference.

Pure Play BPM - These guys have had every opportunity to break up their monolithic architectures into a component-ized (or service oriented) architecture. As far as I know, none of them have made significant progress down this path. Intalio seems to get it but doesn't seem to be delivering the message. If these guys start delivering a "SO-BPM" story (Service Oriented BPM), watch out - they could be real contenders (of course, they will have to have product to back it up).

JMS / ESB - Here there are two categories 1. Sonic, 2. Everyone else - The fact is, Sonic is a marketing machine. I tip my hat to them. These guys not only could sell ice to Eskimos - they do! In the short term, I think they will be the single biggest threat. However, they have some baggage they bring with them (JMS is commoditized, ESB will eventually be a joke) All of the other ESB vendors will have to compete based on product features/functionality/price (think bake-offs against Sonic).

Web Service Platforms - Oddly, there are really only 2 platform providers left (Cape Clear and Systinet). Both of the players will need to get an orchestration offering. Their issue will be to knock orchestration out of the park - otherwise they will have to lead with their less expensive and commoditized SOAP stacks - and then try to upsell to a more expensive offering.

If you believe in the 'web services programming model', 'service oriented integration' or 'pervasive integration' then it is only a matter of time before you realize that orchestration is the flagship of this rather complex offering. Protocol offerings should be built into the operating system (and will be). Queues are commoditized... and making 'web service enabled queues' takes about a day of engineering effort. The 80-20 rule on transformation makes out of the box, pipelined XSL offerings attractive. However, debugging a distributed, service oriented, message based, declarative policy based, multi-platform, asynchronous, concurrent, cross-enterprise process is.... "hard". The issue around orchestration will quickly turn to 'total cost of ownership' - the vendor that wins will be the one that allows the enterprise to reduce the cost of maintaining production instances (keeping the service network up, debugging issues, resolving performance problems, maintaining version, etc.) The offerings will have to go beyond orchestration and into 'composite distributed applications'. The expectations that will be placed on our new service oriented virtual machine (the service network) will be significant. As the new programming model emerges, people will be wanting a vendor that isn't a 'spot' technology but rather an enabler of the new model - that's where we come in.

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