IBM, Microsoft and SAP are taking a charge at the business Web 2.0 market, but the big vendors still lag behind smaller rivals who have developed far more innovative technology with quicker release cycles, according to a Forrester analyst.
"Right now I'm seeing a clear preference toward smaller vendors," says Rob Koplowitz, an analyst at Forrester. "Generally speaking the big vendors are playing catch up and the big vendors have a deployment model that is not very attractive."
Koplowitz, who is performing a comprehensive analysis of the market for blog, wiki and content collaboration tools, issued research last month examining IBM, Microsoft, SAP, Oracle and BEA Systems. His next Enterprise 2.0 report will tackle the smaller players such as Socialtext, Jive, Awareness, Six Apart and Near-Time.
Small vendors have established themselves in the blog and wiki market with more robust technology, and can offer simpler, low-cost deployments, often through software-as-a-service, Koplowitz says.
All the big vendors are tying their products to large infrastructure pieces that can't be deployed quickly, he says. They're also inhibited by slower development cycles, limiting innovation.
IBM has jumped ahead of the other big vendors in functionality with its Lotus Connections social software for businesses, according to Koplowitz.
Still, each of the five vendors profiled in Koplowitz's report -- called "The Big Vendors Converge on Enterprise Web 2.0" -- recognize the importance of the market and have a unique view of how to provide blog and wiki tools to customers. Here's a summary of Forrester's take on each one:
BEA: Aided by the 2005 acquisition of Plumtree Software, BEA's Web 2.0 portfolio is highlighted by AquaLogic Pages, Pathways and Ensemble, which give businesses access to blogs, wikis, tagging, tag clouds and a framework for building mash-up applications. BEA will be compelling to businesses that want to extend the capabilities of applications they built using BEA's application platform and portal infrastructure.
"BEA's position as a solid provider of infrastructure portal software bodes well for its move toward being an enterprise Web 2.0 infrastructure provider," Koplowitz writes.
IBM: Big Blue is a "dominant player in the collaboration space" that has done well in Web 2.0 with Lotus Connections. "Based on its own experience as a power user of Social Computing, IBM developed a new ground-up offering for customers: Lotus Connections. Connections, which blends blogs, tagging, communities, profiles and task management, represents a highly integrated platform that is enterprise-ready," Forrester writes.
Bill Gates' brainchild makes blogs, wikis and profiles part of SharePoint, and can enhance Web 2.0 with calendar integration, instant messaging and Web conferencing.
"By leveraging SharePoint, Microsoft has the ability to provide deep integration with the rest of the Microsoft stack as well as SharePoint's Business Data Catalog for process-level integration," Forrester writes.
Oracle: This company views Enterprise 2.0 as a natural extension of middleware, and is positioning these collaborative capabilities as part of its WebCenter portal. "Oracle has designed its offering to take advantage of other strengths, like very solid security, reliability and integration -- each of which is a key decision criterion for enterprise customers," Forrester states. "While others can integrate with Oracle applications, Oracle has the advantage of understanding the underlying data and processes that could provide end-to-end integration in a fully productized and supported manner."
SAP: Oracle's chief rival is trying to become more relevant to knowledge workers, in part by teaming with Microsoft to let Microsoft Office users access business processes within SAP applications. SAP plans Web 2.0 capabilities for its Enterprise Portal offering, but will struggle to become a prominent Web 2.0 provider.
"SAP has made progress in knowledge management, content management, and collaboration in the past but has yet to establish a position as a major infrastructure vendor in any of these knowledge-worker facing technologies," Forrester writes.