Taking an automated look at marketing the Enterprise Service Bus (ESB)

As you’ll have read elsewhere in these pages I’ve decided to test REPAMATron – my automated marketing analysis software, by pointing it at the way ESB vendors take their products to market.

As I’ve mentioned before, REPAMATron is a project that looks to automate the REPAMA methodology for analysing and visualising vendors’ go-to-market strategies from the language they use to address their prospects. I’ve chosen the ESB space to test the software because it’s a market I know well and therefore I should be able to decide if the software is making the right sort of inferences behind the language it will be analysing.

At the moment the software is way off alpha release and needs lots of testing and further development so it’s going to take a while until it’s working in the way I want it to. So with that in mind I will go through some manual analysis first and then I’ll check whether the software is coming up with the same sort of results. I should stress that this will be an iterative process and I’m expecting the results from REPAMATron to need to be adjusted, so I will need to tune the software as I go along. So if I share some of the findings, that caveat should be borne in mind.

First I need to Identify the 4/5 vendors that I will put through their paces. As a lot of open source technologies have been used in the development of REPAMATron I’ve really warmed to the concept and, for the first time can see the real value an enterprise can derive from using open source software. So I want to include at least one open source ESB vendor in the mix – probably two.

As I mentioned earlier when I looked at the Talend acquisition of Sopera, I am intrigued to see how open source vendors plan to compete against the current commercial market leaders. I will probably have to include some of the heavyweight vendors too although due to the complexity of their web sites and the fact that the ESB products are usually tightly linked to a broader SOA/Integration proposition, they do give REPAMATron a little bit of heartburn trying to find content that is relevant to the specific product under analysis. But as the software will need to cope with web sites and marketing content like that, I guess it just has to be done.

The ESB market per se has pretty much been subsumed within the larger SOA and Integration markets for the larger vendors. Few established vendors now address the ESB space directly instead the ESB forms part of a broader product/infrastructure play. But as I need a very focused product proposition to allow me to test REPAMATron, not every vendor I look at will be suitable for this first set of tests. As a starting point I thought I would take Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Application Infrastructure for Systematic Application Integration Projects from October 2010. The long list of vendors (that have at least some form of ESB) includes:

Microsoft Oracle
IBM Software AG
TIBCO Software Progress Software
Seeburger iWay Software
Fiorano E2E Technologies
TmaxSoft Sterling Commerce
Axway GXS
Fujitsu SAP
NEC Hitachi
InterSystems Cordys
MuleSoft Magic Software Enterprises
Extol International Pervasive Software
WSO2 Red Hat
Sopera (now Talend) FuseSource

I’ve added FuseSource to that list to that long list – recently spun out of Progress Software and not apparently included within Gartner’s description of Progress’ products. This is mainly because I’d like to see how multiple Apache-based ESBs differentiate themselves and also look at how they might take different approaches in their marketing strategies and tactics.

So now I’ll start to look at the content and pick the 4 or 5 vendors I’ll look at in detail. I’ll then build a manual picture of their go-to-market strategies using REPAMA and then I’ll point REPAMATron at the same content and see what I get.

I’ll keep you posted.

Danny Goodall

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