The marketing strategies of open source versus closed source ESBs

I’m continuing my series of blog entries where I am sharing some early results from REPAMATron – my automated competitive marketing intelligence gathering tool. In this entry I’m looking at the difference in marketing strategy between open source and closed source enterprise service buses (EBSs).

REPAMATron automates my REPAMA competitive marketing intelligence methodology and is currently in Alpha. I’m using the ESB market, a market I know well, to help to tune the algorithms at the heart of REPAMATron.

In my previous entry I looked at 3 Enterprise Service Bus vendors’ marketing strategies (WSO2, Talend and FuseSource) and compared them to the computed market mean. I’ve now added another 6 ESB vendors to the study from the long list of ESB vendors produced by Gartner. These new vendors are TmaxSoft, JBOSS, Axway, Seeburger, JBOSS, InterSystems and iWay. So the complete list of vendors and products currently under scrutiny is:

Vendor Product
Progress Software Progress ESB
FuseSource Fuse ESB
Fiorano Fiorano ESB
Talend ASF
WSO2 ESB
MuleSoft MuleESB
Tmaxsoft ProBus
Axway Synchrony
Seeburger BIS
JBOSS JBOSS ESB
InterSystems Ensemble
iWay ServiceManager

I’ve also categorised the list into open source and closed source ESBs. This has allowed me to pull together Marketing Element Distribution (MED) charts that show the difference in marketing strategy between the average open source strategy and the average closed source strategy.

Which features are important for Open Source ESBs versus Closed Source ESBs versus the ESB average?

The PIPESCOM Marketing Element Distribution (MED) chart below shows the features that are promoted most prominently by vendors in the ESB space. Each of the 3 chart series shows a different market mean. The ESB market mean shows the 12 vendor average of all of the vendors in the table above. The closed source ESB vendor average features the average of the 7 closed source vendor results whilst the open source ESB vendor series aggregates the results of 5 open source vendors.

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This is an interesting set of results for a couple of reasons. Firstly because there is a great deal of similarity between the open source and closed source vendors. Taking an ESB to market, be it closed source or open source, appears to be about focusing on communicating the same basic set of features. Interfaces, process and management features are all promoted strongly in keeping with the very nature of an ESB.

However, a number of differences (differentiation) exist. As one might expect the open source ESB vendors place extra emphasis on the packaging of their product as well as the commercial characteristics. There is also an additional focus on ease-of-use by closed source vendors although the reason for this is not immediately clear. It appears that closed source vendors believe that stressing the ease-of-use characteristics of their products is more important than their open source contemporaries.

Which value propositions (benefits) are important for Open Source ESBs versus Closed Source ESBs versus the ESB average?

The MITICOR Marketing Element Distribution (MED) chart below shows the value proposition (benefit) categories that the vendors in the study stress in their outbound communication. The chart series are as described in the PIPESCOM chart above.

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Again, this is an interesting set of results. It appears that when it comes to expressing the value (or benefit) that the vendors feel they deliver to their customers there is significantly more differentiation between open and closed source ESBs than with the PIPESCOM features chart above.

Also of interest is the Cost value proposition. As you’d expect this is where a vendor feels they can save, reduce, offset, mitigate of remove cost for their customers. One would naturally think that an open source ESB proposition might focus heavily on the cost benefits of an open source solution over a comparable closed source ESB. The chart above bears this out in that the open source Cost proposition scores higher than the closed source equivalent. However the difference is very small and the Cost value proposition for closed source vendors already scores strongly. This would suggest that with their closed source ESB counterparts already focussing on the cost benefits of their solution, it will be difficult for the open source vendors to differentiate and sell using cost alone as a proposition.

In my next blog I’ll share the results of a direct comparison between an open source ESB vendor and a closed source competitor. I’ll also continue to add vendors and additional tests to these studies and will share the results in future blogs.

Please post any feedback you may have in the comment section below or contact me here.

Danny Goodall

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