This bombshell fell this week. Several of my colleagues have blogged on this already, namely Gene Alvarez (representing e-Commerce) and Benoit Lheureux (representing B2B integration). Both provide some interesting insight as to what the impact will be on these parts of the market. I have followed B2B and Sterling Commerce, and some of its parts, for a long time but from a more expansive SCM view. I would characterize the acquisition a little differently.
Admittedly what follows is not analysis; it is more gut feel based on what I know and have seen, and what based on what I know our research (some of it, at least) implies.
Certainly IBM has made it public that it wants to take a strong role in B2B integration. This makes sense, and follows previous acquisitions in this area and related areas. However I think that IBM has great potential for something far more important that either B2B or e-Commerce. We have postulated the emergence of a multienterprise business process platform back in 1997. This postulate is not that special; what is interesting is a) it has taken it a long time for it to crystallize, and b) that some vendors actually see the same thing along with some users.
SAP and Oracle, large dominating business applications vendors, just don’t get this. They do not need too; they make a nice business out of enterprise oriented applications and relay on complexity of that footprint. They have little interest in rushing to something that would lead to them eating their own children. IBM is not as worried about this legacy ERP stuff. Few other vendors are of the size and intelligence to make this move; I think IBM has an idea, a very interesting idea. I think B2B and e-commerce arguments are great, and fine, but just stepping stones. I can’t wait for what might happen next. I wonder what SAP and Oracle will do, if anything?