Magic Quadrant for On-Premises Application Platforms

27 June 2013 ID:G00248003
Analyst(s): Daniel Sholler, Yefim V. Natis, Massimo Pezzini, Kimihiko Iijima, Jess Thompson, Ross Altman

VIEW SUMMARY

New and composite on-premises applications need a complex array of runtime technologies and development capabilities. We examine the leading application infrastructure vendors that provide IT developers and architects with complete end-to-end support for application projects for enterprise use.

Market Definition/Description

This document was revised on 11 September 2013. The document you are viewing is the corrected version. For more information, see the Corrections page on gartner.com.

Gartner defines application platform middleware as the subset of application infrastructure that supports the development and deployment of applications. Modern applications are written according to service-oriented architecture (SOA) principles, composed at runtime from existing and new application functions, and often deployed in virtualized environments. Application platform middleware must integrate with other applications, data sources and integration platforms, and is owned and controlled by multiple organizations. Often, application platform middleware may also make use of process orchestration capabilities to externalize process flow logic. It increasingly requires the dynamic scalability that private cloud deployments enable.

The application platform must support deployment and development of independent back-end SOA services, including both service interfaces (APIs) and service implementations. The platform must also support the development of front-end, user-facing logic and UIs. Web front ends are always required. As mobile usage drives new application effort, the presence of mobile capabilities will be highly desirable.

Application platforms featured in this research are designed for systematically oriented, high-control, highly scalable enterprise solutions. Therefore, corporate IT organizations must be able to deploy and operate these applications over long periods of time, and recognize that the applications run on them will change rapidly. Organizations need facilities to monitor and manage the runtime environment, streamline the development and deployment of new code and system changes, and provide operational controls to support scale, manageability and availability.

In projects using these products, the focus is on the design and development of:

  • User-facing components (clients)
  • Programmatically accessible back-end components that are data-facing (services)
  • Midtier components that may be created by wrapping legacy applications or from purpose-built development

On-premises application platform middleware products provide a runtime middleware-based container for custom and packaged applications to be deployed on-premises, either in private cloud or traditional infrastructure environments, or on user-controlled external infrastructure (hosted or in the cloud — i.e., on infrastructure as a service [IaaS]). Many of the project teams using these products deploy advanced software design models, such as event processing, SOA federation, operational intelligence, in-memory computing and cloud enablement. Due to their strategic nature, the project teams building these applications are choosing technologies based on the merits of the middleware, as well as the track record and viability of the vendor in supporting these types of applications.

Magic Quadrant

Figure 1. Magic Quadrant for On-Premises Application Platforms
Figure 1.Magic Quadrant for On-Premises Application Platforms

Source: Gartner (June 2013)

Vendor Strengths and Cautions

ActiveState Software

ActiveState Software (www.activestate.com), founded in 1997, offers Stackato, an open-source private cloud offering. Stackato is based on Java Virtual Machine (JVM) and Java Platform, Enterprise Edition (Java EE), with additional support for specific languages such as Perl, Python and Tcl. This platform is designed for organizations that want to create platform as a service (PaaS) capabilities on their own infrastructure.

Strengths
  • Stackato is a multilingual, private PaaS offering designed to enable the development of modern Web-facing applications. Stackato includes support for the languages (e.g., Python, Perl, Tcl, PHP, Ruby, JavaScript and Java) and data sources (e.g., Oracle, PostgreSQL, MySQL and MongoDB) demanded by these applications. Language support in Stackato spans the preferences of developers of the majority of website components.
  • Partnership with HP and the aggressive marketing of Cloud Foundry by Pivotal have the potential to boost Stackato's visibility and credibility with customers and independent software vendors (ISVs).
  • The private cloud services provided by Stackato support isolation, autoscaling, and good monitoring and recovery on top of multiple IaaS offerings and hypervisors (e.g., Citrix XenServer, Eucalyptus, KVM, OpenStack, VMware, HP Cloud Services and Amazon Web Services).
Cautions
  • Language environments must have their own control structures, frameworks, and development tools and life cycle management.
  • Stackato offers modest support for in-memory data grids.
  • Third-party distribution partnerships, to broaden ActiveState's geographical and vertical market coverage, are just beginning to form.

Fujitsu

Fujitsu (www.fujitsu.com) is a large comprehensive application infrastructure middleware vendor (the Interstage product family) that also offers hardware (e.g., supercomputer "kei"), business applications (packaged and custom-developed applications) and various services (including system integration, outsourcing and cloud). Fujitsu's Interstage product family has been a proven application platform for development and delivery of large, demanding, business-critical applications in large enterprises across a broad range of vertical industries.

The evaluation of Fujitsu's position on this Magic Quadrant is based on the functionality provided by the Interstage family of products, which includes Interstage Application Server v.11.0, Business Application Server v.11.0, Interstage eXtreme Transaction Processing Server v.1.1, Interstage BigData Complex Event Processing Server v.1.0, Interstage XWand v.12.1 (which includes its Java EE-application server, in-memory data grid [IMDG], complex-event processing, object-relational mapping and load-balancing capabilities); Interstage Service Integrator v.9.4.1, Interstage Business Process Manager v.11.3, and Interstage Business Operations Platform v.12.0 (supporting enterprise service bus [ESB] and orchestration requirements). Also included are Fujitsu Interstage Interaction Manager v.10.0, Interstage AR Processing Server v.1 and Interstage Mobile Application Server v.1 (which provides front-end container capabilities for mobile devices). Other products considered were Fujitsu Interstage Studio v.11.0 (providing a modeling and development toolset); Fujitsu Interstage Application Development Cycle Manager v.10.3, Systemwalker Service Catalog Manager v.15.2, Systemwalker Centric Manager v.13.6, and Systemwalker Service Quality Coordinator v.15.01 (for administration, monitoring and management).

Strengths
  • The Fujitsu Interstage application platform product family is a proven platform for business-critical applications in large enterprises. It is available in every geography and in a wide range of vertical industries. The Interstage products are available on-premises and delivered as cloud services. They represent the primary supporting engine for Fujitsu's system integration business and solution (packaged application) revenue. Revenue from the Interstage product line places Fujitsu among the Top 10 application infrastructure software vendors (see "Market Share: All Software Markets, Worldwide, 2012").
  • Fujitsu provides a comprehensive, integrated development suite (including a common development toolset, an integrated modeling and composing environment, management environment, metadata services, and runtime platform) that supports developers in creating high quality of service (QoS) applications. The development environment and the Interstage platform have been proven through their use in demanding mission-critical applications, such as stock-exchange trading.
  • Recently, several new products (e.g., Interstage AR Processing Server and Interstage Mobile Application Server) have been introduced to advance Fujitsu's vision of a human-centric intelligent society. These products provide innovative user experiences by combining real-world objects and information.
Cautions
  • In 2012, Fujitsu application server revenue declined. The slowdown was the result of the severe business downturn for many Japanese companies (Fujitsu's primary market), intensified competition from other traditional players and the stronger market presence of open-source providers, as well as the emergence of PaaS alternatives. This revenue shortfall may also indicate sales execution problems inside and outside Japan.
  • Fujitsu was slow to provide features to support mobile and social computing initiatives. This gave competitors opportunities to increase their influence in this market.
  • Fujitsu Interstage business revenue comes primarily from Japanese enterprises inside and outside Japan. Revenue relies on Fujitsu's system integration business (external service provider [ESP]) and hardware business, which reduces Fujitsu's ability to moderate the impact of local economic events.

GigaSpaces

One of the pioneers in in-memory computing technology, GigaSpaces is a software company based in Israel and the U.S., and has been in the market since the early 2000s. Initially focused on the in-memory data grid technology market, the company also provides application platform and cloud management platform products.

GigaSpaces (www.gigaspaces.com) offers an application platform product — the GigaSpaces eXtreme Application Platform (XAP) — based on the company's in-memory data grid technology. XAP includes a Java-based in-memory application server to host back-end business logic. It also incorporates a Web container (based on Eclipse Jetty), an enterprise service bus (based on MuleSoft's Mule ESB) and the Cloudify cloud management platform implementing the PaaS extensions to XAP. For development, modeling and composition, GigaSpaces relies on popular open-source products.

The GigaSpaces product version considered for this Magic Quadrant is GigaSpaces XAP 9.0, released in May 2012, and its planned evolutions.

Strengths
  • A feature-rich cloud TP-/XTP-oriented application platform, based on an in-memory data grid and a natively cloud-enabled substrate providing in-memory data management, elastic scale and multitenancy supported on a variety of public and private cloud environments enables GigaSpaces to address the most demanding cloud TP-/XTP-style applications, including public cloud deployment scenarios and, as a new focus, certain types of big data analytics requirements. Planned evolutions (support for Advanced Message Queuing Protocol [AMQP], Node.js, Scala, WebSockets, integration with Hadoop, MongoDB, Chef and Puppet) target the most progressive requirements.
  • Having a proven technology in the market since 2005; serving over 400 organizations worldwide (many including Global 2000 class companies); integrating popular open-source technologies, such as Spring, Mule ESB, memcached and Jetty; and supporting standards such as Java Persistence API (JPA), servlets, Java Database Connectivity (JDBC), Java Message Service (JMS), Web services and REST enable a range of interoperability scenarios (for example, with mobile applications), reduce the perceived risk of adopting XAP and make it easier to integrate XAP-based applications into established environments. Therefore, GigaSpaces can target leading-edge and early mainstream user organizations and ISVs.
  • A strong focus on supporting cloud-style (multiple public, private and hybrid) deployment scenarios and big data use cases (through the integration with NoSQL DBMSs, such as Cassandra) opens opportunities for GigaSpaces to engage with leading-edge organizations wishing to implement private application platform as a service (aPaaS) and big data strategies, and for partnering with high-profile cloud services providers, particularly IaaS and SaaS players, and ISVs wishing to move toward cloud-centric business models.
Cautions
  • For the most part, the company uses a direct sales model; but, in some countries, the company relies on a distributor-based sales model and on support provided by local partners. Therefore, it is difficult for GigaSpaces to target user organizations with global or international deployment requirements.
  • XAP provides only basic support for a front-end container (via integration of Eclipse Jetty) and limited application service governance capabilities. This implies that, in some cases, XAP users must procure these functionalities from third parties, thus increasing the cost and complexity of the overall platform.
  • The lack of native support for high-productivity-oriented programming models, social networking capabilities, rich Internet clients and HTML5 limits XAP's appeal to users looking for a comprehensive application platform to fully address consumer-oriented and opportunistically oriented application requirements.

IBM

In the mainframe era, IBM (www.ibm.com) was the dominant vendor, with its veteran IMS and CICS transaction-processing monitors. By leveraging that market position, it was able to project its leadership also in the Web era through its Java-based WebSphere Application Server, still one of the most popular and most widely deployed application servers.

The portfolio of products considered to assess IBM's position in this Magic Quadrant includes items that belong to the WebSphere family and other product lines. The most relevant are WebSphere Application Server v.8.5.5 (generally available 14 June 2013) for back-end container; WebSphere eXtreme Scale v.8.6 and WebSphere DataPower XC10 Appliance for IMDG and caching; WebSphere Portal v.8 for user experience management; and Rational Asset Manager v.7.5.1.1, Rational Software Architect 8.5.1, Rational Application Developer for WebSphere Software 8.5.1, and Rational Team Concert 4.0.1 for modeling and development.

Other IBM products relevant to this Magic Quadrant include IBM Integration Bus (formerly WebSphere Message Broker) v.9.0 and the WebSphere DataPower XI52 integration appliances, which provide ESB capabilities; WebSphere MQ v.8.0.0.1 for message-oriented middleware (MOM); WebSphere Cast Iron v.6.3 for cloud services integration; IBM BPM v.8.0.1 for orchestration; IBM Worklight for mobile integration; WebSphere Registry and Repository (WSRR) v.8.0.0.1 and the WebSphere DataPower XG45 appliance for application services governance; IBM SmartCloud Application Performance Management v.7.6 for administration, monitoring and management; and IBM Workload Deployer v.3.1 for elastic application infrastructure deployment.

Strengths
  • IBM's large and loyal application platform software installed base, its synergy with other IBM software offerings, embedding WebSphere Application Server into a large number of IBM software products, a large talent pool of experienced users and partners, and the professional service organization's strengths are all factors favoring IBM's application platform technology adoption by large, mainstream enterprises, especially in vertical industries characterized by a strong presence of IBM mainframes.
  • Advanced capabilities — such as an in-memory data grid, advanced batch processing, private cloud deployments and support for dynamic languages, mobile applications, Web 2.0 and social applications — make the IBM application platform technology family attractive to large organizations looking for a standards-based platform to support an extended range of functional and nonfunctional requirements that go beyond the capabilities that traditional application servers provide.
  • IBM's "pattern of expertise" technology enables automated application deployments and elastic scaling of WebSphere Application Server (and other Java EE application servers)-based applications across traditional deployment scenarios (via IBM Workload Deployer), the IBM PureApplication System family of integrated systems and the IBM SmartCloud Application Services public PaaS offering, thus providing the foundation for implementing hybrid (public/private) cloud architectures.
Cautions
  • In 2012, IBM application server revenue grew significantly slower than in 2011 (5.5% versus 22.1%). Moreover, revenue growth was negative (−5.3%) in portal products. Although these results are in line with Oracle's, its traditional competitor in application platforms, IBM's slowdown reflects intensified competition from traditional players, stronger effectiveness of open-source providers, the emergence of PaaS alternatives and possibly an approaching saturation of IBM's traditional large-organization clientele.
  • The IBM PureApplication System integrated system strategy fits naturally with the requirements of large, application-platform-centric projects; however, only a few clients have successfully deployed this product thus far. Therefore, its value proposition of faster deployments and lower IT operation costs must be further validated by a more significant number of real-life use cases.
  • IBM has made numerous attempts through various product packaging and versions aimed at targeting the low end of the market. Despite the initial industry interest and traction of the recently introduced WebSphere Application Server Liberty Profile, the IBM application platform offering remains primarily of interest to user organizations implementing large and systematically oriented application projects, and does not appeal to organizations seeking a platform for opportunistically oriented developments.

InterSystems

A longstanding leader in application infrastructure markets for the healthcare industry, InterSystems (www.intersystems.com) shows outstanding execution and understanding of the healthcare market's requirements, but has been slow to expand its successful technology offerings to other verticals. InterSystems Ensemble is an integrated application development, deployment, composition and integration platform that uses the company's Caché object and relational database as the foundation. Ensemble is also available as a hosted service on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2). The Active Analytics extension to Ensemble supports business analytics, including support for unstructured data types. This privately held company claims more than 2,000 customer organizations and over $400 million in total revenue.

Strengths
  • InterSystems is an application, integration and database platform provider, with a leading international presence in the healthcare industry. Large numbers of healthcare solution providers and some other ISVs have standardized on InterSystems' platform technologies. The company's offerings for electronic health-record exchange with HealthShare and TrakCare (based on Ensemble) maintain InterSystems' leadership, as the healthcare industry changes worldwide.
  • InterSystems offers an advanced, well-integrated technology suite, including a dual-mode (object-oriented and relational) database (Caché), internal support for event processing in the Ensemble platform, a highly productive (although proprietary) model-driven set of programming tools, a portal builder, a large collection of application and protocol adapters (especially rich for the healthcare industry), multilayer business process orchestration tools, and increasingly sophisticated business analytics.
  • Internal architectural consistency establishes a foundation for the coherent integrated execution of various InterSystems products. It also helps increase productivity, and improves the quality of the development environment and the management of the execution environment.
  • InterSystems is a strong, growing and profitable private business, with no debt and a worldwide presence, including a large international network of ISV and system integrator partners. This market strength positions the company well for continuing growth.
Cautions
  • Despite a multiyear effort, InterSystems is little known outside the healthcare industry as a platform vendor for new business applications or application integration. That — combined with its minimal presence or influence in industry trends, consortia or standards initiatives (outside healthcare) — pushes the company toward a niche in the overall application infrastructure market.
  • Although SOA interoperability is well-supported, SOA-style application modeling, tracking and governance are limited. The company mostly relies on partnerships for this functionality. Centered around ESB functionality, the InterSystems platform is suitable for the development of situational composite applications or simple opportunistic initiatives, but is less suitable for substantial systematic new application projects.
  • Although it partly uses Java, the otherwise nonstandard programming model requires additional training and includes proprietary software that is only useful in the InterSystems environment. Proprietary database and platform components result in significant customer lock-in.
  • Dedicated to the challenges of healthcare information systems, the company has fallen behind on multiple industry trends. Notably, its only cloud offering is a hosted Amazon machine image. As cloud computing grows in popularity, more InterSystems customers likely will ask for a cloud-based alternative to the company's current on-premises offerings. Hosting on an IaaS will not be a sufficient answer in the long term. There are also no publicly committed plans for InterSystems to offer innovative mobile and social computing capabilities. This lack of attention to such major industry trends makes the company vulnerable to competition from the next generation of application ISVs.

Magic Software Enterprises

Magic Software Enterprises (www.magicsoftware.com), established 30 years ago, provides an application platform (Magic xpa Application Platform 3.4, formerly UniPaaS) and an integration platform (Magic xpi Integration Platform). Magic xpa, the primary object of this analysis, supports the Magic language and runtime frameworks. The platform is designed for rapid development of applications, supports a high-level language development style, and has integration and mobile support built in.

Strengths
  • The domain-specific language development style represented by Magic xpa is gaining in popularity versus Java, as enterprises seek to exploit new technologies to improve developer productivity.
  • The core application development features in Magic xpa, along with multidevice mobile support, make creating applications with a modern look and feel easy.
  • Magic xpa application packaging and control mechanisms simplify deployment for less complex applications, speeding time to delivery.
Cautions
  • The use of a nonstandard language and framework in Magic xpa means that there is limited availability of consultants and system integrators with the requisite skills for development with the Magic Software product set, which increases user dependency on the platform vendor.
  • Magic xpa is not a suitable platform for certain scalability-sensitive applications.
  • A significant percentage of Magic Software's business is conducted through partners, which provide custom-made application capabilities, as well as service and support. Third-party relationships can complicate the delivery of support and system integration services.

Microgen

Microgen (www.microgen.com) is a U.K.-based software vendor with a track record in delivering packaged applications to the financial services and digital media markets. Those applications leverage a general-purpose, process-oriented, event-driven and in-memory application platform — Microgen Aptitude — that the company also sells as a stand-alone product, which user organizations and system integrators can use to develop custom applications. The product version considered for assessing Microgen's position in this Magic Quadrant is Microgen Aptitude v.4.1, released in February 2013.

Strengths
  • Aptitude is an original and progressive application platform, proven in demanding environments and combining, as a fully integrated product, application server, ESB, batch processing, data management, business rules, microflow, process management (providing Business Process Model and Notation [BPMN] and Business Process Execution Language for Web Services [BPEL4WS] support) and application development and life cycle management capabilities. These are built on top of an advanced, in-memory-based, event-driven and multithreaded architecture able to deliver fast, model-driven application development with very high performance. This combination of features makes the product particularly suitable for advanced and demanding composite application development projects.
  • Microgen's road map for Aptitude calls for the introduction of advanced features such as grid processing, integration with in-memory data grid technology and support for multitouch mobile applications.
  • Although Microgen has Aptitude clients in multiple vertical segments, it has a specific focus on financial services and digital media that manifest in the form of Aptitude-enable packaged applications, industry-specific standards support and participation in industry forums (for example, Global Legal Entity Identifier for Financial Markets, Digital Data Exchange [DDEX] and the Linked Content Coalition).
Cautions
  • The original combination of capabilities incorporated in Aptitude make the product very powerful. However, they also make it difficult for Microgen to position the product, and make it difficult for prospects to fully appreciate its value. This may cause Microgen to lose business opportunities to competitors with less powerful, but more strongly characterized, products.
  • Despite having been in the market since the early 2000s and having a notable network of partners, Aptitude has a relatively small installed base (about 50 clients worldwide) compared with many of the other vendors in this market. This is a reflection of the company's low-key marketing activity and its focus on targeting more-complex, large-scale initiatives, thus neglecting medium complexity, but more numerous, projects.
  • Although Aptitude supports deployments in virtualized environments, Microgen hasn't yet articulated a cloud-related value proposition, either in terms of making its platform available as a cloud-service, or in terms of providing specific cloud integration capabilities. This may preclude adoption from the growing number of organizations using SaaS and other cloud services and looking at public cloud or hybrid deployment models for business applications.

Microsoft

Microsoft (www.microsoft.com) is a major enterprise application infrastructure vendor, despite the mostly proprietary nature of its programming model. Most of the Microsoft application platform technology is integrated and packaged with the Windows Server OS. There is no separate offering that is an application server. The platform technologies bundled with Windows Server comprise the .NET framework, including ASP.NET, Windows Workflow Foundation and Windows Communication Foundation; Internet Information Server; Windows Server AppFabric; and more. Management is offered through a separately priced Microsoft System Center, which is also used to assemble virtual instances of Windows Server into a private cloud. Microsoft SharePoint has become a platform for developing user-facing applications.

Strengths
  • Microsoft has a massive presence and a proven reputation with mainstream software developers, resulting in the broad use of Microsoft development tools across industries and geographies. This establishes a large number of skills availability in the market and lowers the costs of IT projects.
  • The large ecosystem of ISV partners serves as a powerful channel for Windows Server offerings and adds to the long-term viability of .NET application infrastructure, despite its proprietary nature.
  • Microsoft cloud-first and cloud OS strategies position it to offer a comprehensive hybrid enterprise computing environment where private and public clouds form a continuum.
  • The highly popular .NET-based SharePoint portal serves as a high-productivity application platform and complements .NET C# programming environment.
  • Because of the shared Windows Server and .NET underpinnings, users of applications from Microsoft and partners experience the benefits of some architectural coherence across Windows applications. In addition to the underlying platform, the Visual Studio design environment offers consistency in application development experience. Windows Systems Center is designed to centrally monitor and manage application and system execution across on-premises deployments and on Windows Azure.
Cautions
  • The absence of a unified metadata repository, API, and service management and SOA governance tools (some are delivered via partnerships with SOA Software and Nevatech) challenges Microsoft customers' ability to manage a systematic SOA environment and questions Microsoft's commitment to SOA as the principal software design model.
  • The transition to a cloud-first software engineering plan, while progressive in the long term, slows down company investment in current on-premises application platform technologies. The in-memory computing capability offered as an important platform innovation in 2010 remains an immature capability with little recent expansion. Microsoft's private cloud capability is minimal and lacks native autoscaling.
  • Although interoperable with many outside environments, the Microsoft .NET application platform locks its applications into Windows Server; even the .NET-based Windows Azure cloud services platform is not fully portable with its on-premises version.
  • Despite strategic participation in the mobile computing market (Windows Phone, Surface), little of this initiative is targeting enterprise computing projects. Enterprise architects get limited and spotty direct tooling and support for mobile, social or big data analytics initiatives (although some such tools are planned).

Oracle

Over the past 10 years, Oracle's application infrastructure middleware offering — Oracle Fusion Middleware (OFM) — has been evolving through internal development and acquisitions, including the key purchase of BEA Systems. OFM is founded on the market-leading Oracle WebLogic Server Java EE application and other application platform technologies. Since the acquisition of Sun Microsystems in 2010, Oracle (www.oracle.com) has the intellectual property of the key Java technology set. Oracle sells its application platform technologies not only as a set of stand-alone products and product suites, but also as an enabler for its packaged application business, for its public cloud initiative (Oracle Cloud) and as components of the Oracle Engineered Systems offering.

The evaluation of Oracle's position on this Magic Quadrant is based on the functionality provided by the OFM 11g family of products, which includes Oracle WebLogic Suite (Oracle WebLogic Server Enterprise Edition [already available in the 12c release], Oracle Coherence, Oracle TopLink, Oracle Web Tier and other components), providing Java EE-based back-end container, IMDG, and object-relational mapping and load-balancing capabilities; Oracle SOA Suite (Oracle Service Bus, Oracle BPEL Process Manager, Oracle Business Rules, Oracle B2B, Oracle BAM, Oracle Web Services Manager, Oracle Event Processing and other components) supporting ESB and orchestration requirements; Oracle WebCenter Portal, providing front-end container capabilities; Oracle JDeveloper modeling and development toolset; and Oracle Enterprise Manager for administration, monitoring and management. Other Oracle products that may be relevant for application development and deployment projects include Oracle BPM Suite, as well as Oracle Service Registry, Oracle Enterprise Repository and Oracle Enterprise Manager and SOA Management Pack for application service governance.

Strengths
  • OFM is a large business that positions Oracle as the second-largest application infrastructure middleware vendor and the No. 1 application server provider in the market, according to Gartner 2012 market share data (see "Market Share: All Software Markets, Worldwide, 2012"). The technology is supported by a vast network of partners and leverages a large talent pool available around the world. Thousands of organizations in virtually every geography and in multiple vertical industries have successfully deployed combinations of OFM products, in a large number of cases to support large and business-critical application development and deployment projects.
  • OFM provides a comprehensive, integrated (a common development toolset, management environment, metadata services and runtime platform) and feature-rich application infrastructure offering that also provides leading application platform technologies, such as the market-leading Oracle WebLogic Server, and the popular and advanced Oracle Coherence in-memory technology. These products are tightly integrated with Oracle Database, are incorporated in numerous Oracle packaged application offerings and are optimized for the Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud integrated system platform.
  • The OFM road map addresses key application platform technologies (e.g., HTML5 and Java EE 7), emerging requirements (e.g., support for mobile devices, multitenancy and in-memory computing) and delivery models (e.g., private cloud IaaS plus middleware support, public and private PaaS, and integrated systems).
Cautions
  • In 2012, Oracle maintained market share leadership in the application server segment, but its revenue grew significantly slower than in 2011 (6.6% versus 18.4%). Moreover, revenue growth in 2012 was negative (−6.0%) in portal products. Although these results are in line with IBM, Oracle's primary competitor in application platforms, Oracle's slowdown happened despite a significant marketing and sales push for Oracle Exalogic, which is expected to drive Oracle WebLogic Suite sales. The slowdown may indicate sales execution problems in some geographies. It also may reflect intensified competition from traditional players, greater effectiveness of open-source providers, the emergence of PaaS alternatives and user organizations' perceptions of OFM as an expensive offering. The misalignment between WebLogic Server (already in version 12c) and the rest of the OFM stack (still on version 11g) in some cases contributes to delaying new WebLogic Server deployments.
  • Some large and loyal OFM users, especially those that experienced BEA Systems' support, continue to report dissatisfaction with Oracle's support.
  • Some Oracle clients are experiencing licensing and pricing issues when upgrading from the previous-generation Oracle Internet Application Server to Oracle WebLogic Server: In many situations, the Oracle sales force pushes clients to upgrade to the top-of-line Oracle WebLogic Suite, the most functionally rich but also most expensive version of the product, even when less expensive versions (Oracle WebLogic Server Basic, Oracle WebLogic Server Standard or Oracle WebLogic Server Enterprise) could technically suit clients' requirements.

Pivotal

Pivotal (www.gopivotal.com), recently formed from some software assets of VMware and EMC and now funded by EMC, VMware and GE, is an ambitious newcomer to the application platform middleware market (see "EMC and VMware Form Pivotal to Challenge Software Megavendors in the Cloud"). Its strategy is to establish a leading position in the application infrastructure market by attracting partners and users to private and public cloud implementations of its platform software (Cloud Foundry), expanded recently with support for big data analytics (Greenplum). In addition, Pivotal offers a suite of open- and closed-source middleware products: vFabric, which includes Spring Framework as its main development model, tc Server, Java application server, GemFire/SQLFire in-memory computing technology, RabbitMQ messaging, Hyperic management tools and other components.

Strengths
  • There is growing adoption of the open-source CloudFoundry.org cloud-enabled application platform (CEAP) software by various partners to offer added-value CEAP offerings (ActiveState, AppFog) or a public PaaS (Dell; HP via ActiveState) that advances Pivotal's technology toward becoming a de facto standard for CEAP architecture (especially considering the lack of alternative standard initiatives for PaaS).
  • Financial and strategic backing by EMC, VMware and GE provides the necessary capital and other resources to allow Pivotal to grow through active product development, acquisition and marketing.
  • GemFire and SQLFire — two mature and successful in-memory computing offerings inherited through the acquisition of GemStone, plus Greenplum Database and Pivotal HD, adopted by Pivotal from EMC — form a visionary technology core to support the design of advanced, modern enterprise applications.
  • The notion of open PaaS, promoted by VMware and now Pivotal, is characterized by support of multiple programming models and languages and by portability of the PaaS environment to multiple hardware, OS and virtualization systems. Open PaaS is attractive to enterprise customers that are not confident in the viability of many cloud providers and that look to avoid vendor lock-in.
Cautions
  • The strategic investment by GE likely will put pressure on Pivotal to adjust its product road map to fit GE's vision of the Industrial Internet. While strategic for GE and significant in the overall cloud computing market, this has not been Pivotal's vision and could distract the company from its strategic objectives.
  • Although the Pivotal portfolio has some strong software offerings, multiple essential capabilities are missing. This includes the lack of support for application and data integration. Integration of heterogeneous software endpoints is an essential component of any strategic and comprehensive application infrastructure platform; typical enterprise IT organizations spend more on integration than on new application development. A related missing capability is SOA governance and service API management —necessary components of a leading platform.
  • To effectively compete against the industry megavendors, such as IBM, Oracle and Microsoft, Pivotal must offer modern and differentiated capabilities. Its investment in big data management is a step in the right direction, but the apparent absence of a compelling strategy for mobile and social computing will likely be a challenge in the marketplace.
  • Despite the emphasis on choice of programming models, the Pivotal platform does not offer certified support of Java EE, the dominant programming model in mainstream enterprises. Without it, the company risks failing to meet the requirements of enterprise prospects, especially when it comes to projects focused on the migration of existing applications to private or public cloud platforms.

Progress Software

Progress Software is a long time provider of OpenEdge, an application development and deployment environment and DBMS. Since OpenEdge is frequently used by independent software vendors to develop their products, most end user organizations are introduced to Progress when they need to create extensions and customizations to COTS applications developed with OpenEdge. The Progress Platform consists of the OpenEdge and Corticon families of products. The latest version Progress OpenEdge, version 11.2, adds support for mobile clients, RESTful web services, rule processing within Corticon Rules, and multi-tenancy. . In 2012, Progress sold off development and deployment tools that enabled application integration and business process management, leaving the company more tightly focused on application development. The legacy of earlier strategies has left the current platform playing catch-up on certain areas that are becoming critical for modern applications, such as API management and governance, application life cycle management, private cloud frameworks, and in memory data. The company recently acquired Rollbase, an aPaaS provider, and will be delivering a combined Rollbase/OpenEdge in 2H13.

Strengths
  • Progress is now focused exclusively on its application platform.
  • The business model that is focused on ISV partners means that customers often get the platform as part of a solution with existing business value, and that engagement can last a long time. Customers have been very satisfied with the Progress technology, which has proven technical quality and usability.
  • The Progress style of development is coming back into vogue as PaaS offerings develop.
Cautions
  • Shifts in strategy and lack of investment in OpenEdge in the past have created uncertainty about the longevity of the technology.
  • Typical of high-productivity development tools, the Progress platform is highly proprietary. This, coupled with future uncertainties, has led to a lack of OpenEdge skills in the market, even within consulting and system integration firms, which has affected the customer experience using Progress for enterprise software.
  • The current platform has minimal prebuilt integration with big data and analytics capabilities.

Red Hat

Red Hat (www.redhat.com) is a leading provider of open-source Java EE platform technology, successfully competing directly against some of the software industry megavendors. Red Hat JBoss is well-positioned to support SOA-style business application projects, although Red Hat's investment in SOA governance does not match the functional completeness of its application server offering.

JBoss Enterprise Application Platform (EAP) is Red Hat's primary technology for supporting new SOA application development. JBoss Enterprise Web Server is the assembly of Apache Tomcat and Apache Web Server. WildFly (formerly JBoss Application Server) is the unsupported open-source Java EE application server. Recently, Red Hat delivered OpenShift Enterprise, a cloud-enabled application server supporting Java EE, as well as Ruby, Python, Node.js and other programming environments. The public cloud version of OpenShift, an aPaaS offering, remains in beta.

Strengths
  • The combination of a leading open-source OS (Red Hat Enterprise Linux [RHEL]) and dominating open-source Java EE application server technology (JBoss) positions the company as a major player in the important enterprise software infrastructure market. An all-open-source offering is appealing to many projects, while competing open-source Java EE offerings have not been successful at building share in this market. JBoss is well-established as an independent Java EE alternative to the software industry giants, such as IBM and Oracle.
  • The open-source heritage of JBoss' application platform offerings lays the foundation for a well-architected and extensible software suite. The large space of available open-source projects provides an opportunity for the company to rapidly adopt new capabilities as the software industry expands. The reputation of open-source offerings continues to solidify with mainstream enterprise IT, and JBoss has experienced steady growth in the adoption of many of its offerings.
  • The recently delivered CEAP, OpenShift Enterprise, positions JBoss as a promising platform for private PaaS implementations in enterprises looking to preserve their established Java EE code, skills and practices in the transition to cloud computing. The product takes full advantage of the synergies of Red Hat's core OS and JBoss to offer a platform with strong continuity for established users of JBoss (and other Java EE platforms).
Cautions
  • The prevailing JBoss adoption driver continues to be a lower-cost alternative to the closed-source application platform offerings. This attitude masks the technical merits of the internal engineering of JBoss software and reduces its adoption for large-scale, mission-critical projects. The company's efforts to overcome this challenge and promote the technical excellence of its offerings have not yet been successful.
  • A lack of competitive tools dedicated to big data analytics, mobile and social computing often defers JBoss adoption for leading enterprise IT innovation projects.
  • Red Hat's limited marketing budget for these products (which is typical for the open-source offerings) leaves a lot of the building of JBoss mind share to the word-of-mouth process. This approach is relatively slow and has not been fully effective in the enterprise context.
  • The focus on backward compatibility in OpenShift Enterprise, while attractive for application migration projects, will challenge the company's ability to deliver the improved productivity for new application design that most expect from a cloud offering.

SAP

SAP (www.sap.com) is a significant vendor of platform software. Its primary portfolio for on-premises application platform middleware is the NetWeaver family of products. This suite of application platform products consists of SAP NetWeaver Process Orchestration (combining the previously separate SAP NetWeaver Process Integration and SAP NetWeaver BPM), SAP NetWeaver Application Server Advanced Business Application Programming (ABAP)/Application Server Java, SAP NetWeaver Portal, SAP NetWeaver Process Orchestration, B2B add-on, SAP NetWeaver Gateway and portions of SAP Solution Manager. Many organizations have used this product line to integrate and extend their SAP applications. SAP uses it to run its applications. The platform is broadly capable and integrates with other SAP middleware offerings, including integration, mobile infrastructure and portal services. Newer capabilities, such as social, are still somewhat underdeveloped. The platform lags others in some of its operational characteristics, such as support for continuous operation.

The introduction of SAP Hana, an in-memory DBMS based on a cloud-style infrastructure, has extended the notion of the SAP platform, since Hana contains an execution environment that can run programs in JavaScript and its script language, as well as the extensive information processing and big data features of the Hana DBMS. How Hana will be incorporated into the overall application platform has not been well-articulated, but it is clear that Hana will be integral to SAP's application technology. SAP's execution platforms and tools are increasingly focused on leveraging the in-memory processing capabilities of that engine. Also, SAP's vision is of a hybrid-cloud environment, where some components run in the cloud, and some on-premises.

SAP offers analogues to the various NetWeaver components in the cloud under the SAP Hana Cloud Platform label. These components are the focus of non-Hana platform development today. SAP has said that it will migrate changes made in the cloud platform to the NetWeaver environment. This strategy may be difficult for SAP to sustain indefinitely, and it is possible that it will attempt to unify the code lines.

The investment in this strategy will mean that on-premises application customers who are not also transitioning to Hana will see a more limited set of enhancements in the short term to midterm. This period of building out Hana-specific capabilities and cloud integration and compatibility features, as well as the focus on Hana DBMS as a prerequisite for enhanced capabilities within SAP's applications, account for the relatively low Ability to Execute rating, which is unusual for a company the size of SAP. We expect that this will improve as the details of the strategy unfold, and the long-term outcomes for customers may be positive, because they will have a platform with extensive capabilities around cloud-style functionality, hybrid cloud and in-memory processing.

Strengths
  • Integration with SAP applications, tooling and other technologies (such as SAP Hana) makes the platform straightforward to adopt by SAP customers, because it is supported around the world, shares some elements with other SAP technology, and has attracted strong interest from global system integration firms and consulting companies.
  • SAP has made major investments in extensions to the core platform, such as in-memory technology, mobile and business intelligence capabilities. This allows it to deliver rapid mobile and analytic capabilities in its applications, and these are available to customers and ISV developers as well. Common content and association with leading-edge developments, such as Hana, make using this environment attractive when an SAP audience is the target.
  • SAP has invested in developing a dedicated technology sales force and support organization worldwide.
  • SAP is dedicated to a hybrid cloud/on-premises strategy for its applications. This is influencing SAP's development of the platform, and should result in a highly functional system for organizations as they seek hybrid cloud solutions.
Cautions
  • Hana is the primary focus of SAP's platform strategy. This means that, for the next few years, demand for the SAP Application platform will be determined by Hana's market presence. SAP's strategy has become complicated by the introduction of cloud versions based on a new code line and Hana's evolution as a platform. Users who are committed to the SAP Application platform and are not making use of Hana or creating hybrid-cloud deployments will see few changes to current capabilities.
  • While competitive, SAP has been unable to clearly differentiate the value of using its platform today in a way that has attracted users who do not deploy SAP applications and developers who do not focus on creating extensions to SAP applications. Although the platform is widely used, it is nearly always sold and acquired as an accompaniment to an SAP application environment.

Tibco Software

A longstanding player and leader in middleware markets such as ESB and MOM, Tibco Software (www.tibco.com) has evolved to offer platform technologies suitable for supporting a range of use cases.

The products considered for assessing Tibco in this Magic Quadrant include ActiveMatrix Service Grid 3.2.0, Tibco BusinessEvents Extreme 1.0, ActiveMatrix Service Performance Manager 1.3.3 and Tibco Silver Fabric 5.0 for application containers, ActiveMatrix BusinessWorks 5.11 and ActiveMatrix Service Bus 3.2.0 for ESB, ActiveMatrix Life Cycle Governance Framework 4.0.3, ActiveMatrix Policy Director 1.0 and ActiveMatrix Service Gateway 1.2 for applications service governance, Tibco ActiveSpaces 2.0 in-memory data grid, Tibco BusinessEvents 5.1.1 for complex-event processing, Tibco Hawk 5.0 for monitoring and management and other, more narrowly focused, application infrastructure offerings.

Strengths
  • The elastically scalable ActiveMatrix Service Grid supports development of Java and .NET-based back-end business logic. Tibco ActiveSpaces enables high-performance/high-scale, in-memory computing. Tibco BusinessEvents provides a platform for advanced, event-driven SOA applications. This set of OSGi-based components, combined with BPM tools, Service Component Architecture (SCA)-based development tools, life cycle management, and a rich set of integration capabilities creates a functionally rich environment for a range of application requirements, including high-performance/high-scale business-critical systems.
  • Tibco has a well-established reputation in enterprise-class messaging, event processing, application integration and SOA infrastructure initiatives. A notable, loyal installed base of large organizations and a network of established partners serve as a fertile base for upselling the company's application platform technology.
  • Tibco BusinessEvents Extreme provides a visionary event-driven, Java-based, in-memory application server capable of targeting the most demanding requirements for performance and scalability, while maintaining compatibility with the Java Platform, Standard Edition specifications.
Cautions
  • Tibco is largely unknown as an application platform provider. Limited company marketing investment further holds back its recognition in this market. Tibco has developed a Java application container supporting plain old Java objects (POJO) and Spring Framework programming. However, it is rarely considered by new prospects choosing an application server, or by ISVs developing packaged applications and tools. Therefore, the Tibco application platform is prevailingly used in the context of large BPM, SOA, composition or integration projects to host incremental business logic; it is rarely used to support new application developments.
  • Tibco's application platform is relatively expensive and complex, targeting the more-advanced and more-demanding projects. The breadth and sophistication of the Tibco product portfolio can be overkill for small-scale, application projects. High pricing, as well as the company's historical focus on high-end/high-demand projects, has delayed the company's entry into the mainstream application platform markets, even if Tibco's application platform provides support for Spring Framework and .NET.
  • Tibco BusinessEvent Extreme is neither compatible nor integrated with the ActiveMatrix Service Grid platform. Despite its visionary architecture, it has suffered so far from uncertain positioning, almost no investment from a marketing perspective and scarce sales push, thus resulting in a very small installed base, which puts its long-term viability at risk.

WSO2

WSO2 (www.wso2.com) is an open-source application development and deployment platform, consisting of WSO2 Application Server 5.0.1, WSO2 API Manager 1.3.1, WSO2 Identity Server 4.0.0, WSO2 Business Process Server 2.0.0, WSO2 Business Rules Server 2.0.0, WSO2 ESB 4.6.0, WSO2 Message Broker 2.0.1, WSO2 Governance Registry 4.5.3, WSO2 Data Services Server 3.0.1, WSO2 Business Activity Monitor 2.2.0, WSO2 Complex Event Processor 2.0.1 and WSO2 Elastic Load Balancer 2.0.1. This impressive, broad portfolio is intended to be somewhat minimalist in terms of its product features, eliminating infrequently used features and focusing on the needs of newer applications and architectures, including private cloud and aPaaS deployments. The company has a presence in the U.S., Sri Lanka and the U.K.

Strengths
  • WSO2 provides a broad portfolio of technology, including support for development and deployment of SOA-style applications, API management and application integration. WSO2 has been leading in innovation that enables developers to deploy applications on-premises or in the cloud with a platform that provides native elasticity and multitenancy, and supports hybrid cloud deployment models.
  • WSO2 offers a complete open-source portfolio, which reduces its costs and prices, simplifies consumption by customers, and has led to a notable installed base.
Cautions
  • Simplicity of technology is achieved by eliminating variations for specific applications, platforms and other features, which may be missed by some consumers, requiring them to extend the platform.
  • Limited geographic distribution, channel and marketing capacity make WSO2 somewhat vulnerable to a significant realignment in the open-source market if a name brand vendor enters or improves in this subsegment.
  • Thus far, the company has had limited success in attracting system integrators and consultants to use its platform, despite its open-source nature.

Zend

Zend (www.zend.com), dedicated to promoting and enabling PHP application development, was formed as a company in 1999 by the developers of the original PHP implementation. Today, the publicly available open-source PHP4 platform continues to be based on the technology developed by the founders of the company, although its evolution is now controlled by an open community and not the original creators. Zend offerings are not open source. Zend Server Community Edition is a fee-based implementation of PHP5. Zend Server is an added-value rendering of PHP5 that includes management, debugging, caching and other advanced capabilities. Zend Studio is a PHP development platform. Zend Server and Studio are the company's primary commercial offerings.

Strengths
  • Zend's unquestionable in-depth expertise with PHP (the most deployed website foundation language) and millions of developers worldwide that are skilled in using PHP (although not necessarily Zend tools) provide the company with a potent foundation for growth and partnerships.
  • A singular focus on the PHP community enables Zend to devote all its resources to perfecting the user experience and functional richness of the company's core offerings.
  • Notable strategic partnerships, including IBM, Red Hat and Oracle, contribute to the company's long-term viability. IBM is a particularly strong partner, using Zend Server in its private PaaS offerings (IBM Workload Deployer and PureApplication Systems) and bundling it with its System I (former AS/400) products.
  • Recent enhancements enable Zend PHP developers to create mobile user experiences using HTML5, JavaScript and containerized native programming for iOS and Android.
Cautions
  • A lack of application integration capability leaves developers with the responsibility for integrating external application and data sources for composite application design. Developers of large composite application projects may choose an alternative platform to facilitate higher productivity in integration.
  • SOA governance and interface API management are essential for full-scale modern application development and are missing from Zend's portfolio, pushing the product's adoption toward smaller and more opportunistic projects.
  • An undivided focus on just one programming language can be a challenge in the age of polyglot offerings. Although Zend provides interoperability with a variety of other languages, many project leads will prefer a multilingual platform for greater flexibility.
  • Support for cloud computing with Zend products is contingent on partners (although there is a PHP developer cloud service that's run by Zend). Zend core technology is not multitenant and depends on partners' software to deliver the key characteristics of a cloud service. Selling such offerings is left to the partners, preventing Zend from establishing its brand as a competitive player in cloud computing.

Vendors Added or Dropped

We review and adjust our inclusion criteria for Magic Quadrants and MarketScopes as markets change. As a result of these adjustments, the mix of vendors in any Magic Quadrant or MarketScope may change over time. A vendor appearing in a Magic Quadrant or MarketScope one year and not the next does not necessarily indicate that we have changed our opinion of that vendor. This may be a reflection of a change in the market and, therefore, changed evaluation criteria, or a change of focus by a vendor.

Added

This Magic Quadrant is new in 2013, but has antecedents in two previous Magic Quadrants: "Magic Quadrant for Application Infrastructure for Systematic SOA Application Projects" and "Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Application Servers." Some of the vendors on those Magic Quadrants are not included in this new Magic Quadrant because of changes in the inclusion criteria or changes in vendor positioning. Similarly, vendors have been added to the Magic Quadrant for On-Premises Application Platforms, because they are new, or have experienced significant growth in revenue and market presence:

  • ActiveState meets all the inclusion criteria for on-premises application platforms, and has focused on delivering platforms for private cloud deployment.
  • Pivotal is a new company formed from the application platform assets previously owned by EMC and VMware.
  • Zend meets all the inclusion criteria and has focused on developing a platform for Web applications.

Dropped

Exclusion of vendors that were in the antecedent Magic Quadrants does not mean those companies do not have suitable products for many use cases. It only means that the inclusion criteria developed to reflect the most common requirements of Gartner customers for on-premises application platforms are not fully met by these vendors.

Vendors that do not meet the inclusion requirement concerning broad geographic coverage are:

  • Hitachi
  • NEC
  • Pramati Technologies
  • TmaxSoft

Vendors that do not meet the inclusion criteria because they only offer their platform as a cloud service:

  • EngineYard
  • salesforce.com

In other instances:

  • Caucho does not meet the broad platform functionality required to be included in this Magic Quadrant.
  • Gnubila does not derive sufficient revenue from this market and does not meet the inclusion requirement for broad geographic coverage.

Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria

Vendors that are included in this Magic Quadrant have sufficient technology and expertise in their total application infrastructure portfolio (regardless of packaging) to be sole application infrastructure providers for systematically oriented projects that develop, deploy and maintain self-contained and composite SOA-style business applications.

The ability of these products to support systematically oriented applications implies that they must enable developers to design, develop and maintain SOA applications over an extended life cycle and deploy them to environments that permit high throughput, low latency and high availability.

The key technical characteristics that are essential to such an offering are:

  1. Back-end application execution containers, including support for access to services implemented in a broad range of technologies, deployed onto a broad range of platforms and accessed via event-driven, method-based and resource-based interaction models.
  2. Development and deployment capabilities that target multiple front-end execution containers, including tooling and support for creating UIs that can be deployed onto or accessed from a broad range of client platforms and devices.
  3. Modeling, design and maintenance tools able to govern the development and runtime management of a complete composite, SOA application.
  4. Support for the development and deployment of composite, SOA style applications, with tooling for process orchestration to implement and manage the execution of application flow.

This Magic Quadrant considers only products that are available for implementation on user-controlled infrastructures. This could be a traditional data center infrastructure or a private cloud deployment, as well as hosted and possibly public IaaS environments. This Magic Quadrant does not consider platforms that are available only as cloud offerings (often referred to as PaaS). However, vendors that offer their platform as a cloud service have an advantage over those that do not, because this can simplify development and test configurations.

Vendors that limit themselves to serving a single vertical market may be suitable for organizations in that vertical industry, but are not covered on this Magic Quadrant. Qualifying vendors must have significant revenue from multiple vertical markets.

Each vendor's entire set of product offerings is considered, without regard to product packaging. All the above capabilities must be delivered and supported by the vendor being assessed. Some of the technology in the evaluated portfolio might be from a third party. This is acceptable as long as the user's primary support experience is with the vendor being assessed. Delegating Level 3 support is acceptable.

There must be evidence of production success (at least 30 paying production customers) by the vendor as a sole provider of technology for this project type.

Vendors with annual product license and maintenance revenue from application infrastructure deployments of more than $15 million may be considered. In the case of vendors pursuing a subscription-based, open-source business model, the threshold for consideration is $10 million in annual product subscription revenue. Vendors must also realize substantial revenue from at least two of the following global regions: North America, Latin America, EMEA and Asia/Pacific.

All vendors on this Magic Quadrant have market presence worldwide and are used by enterprises to deploy significant applications. Regardless of their positions, these vendors are suitable for many organizations and many types of activities. Other vendors exist in this marketplace, but do not satisfy the inclusion criteria in some way. The evaluated vendors may also be suitable for use in some other circumstances. The number of vendors on the Magic Quadrant is designed to enable most organizations to develop a valid list of potential solutions when acquiring on-premises application platform technology.

Evaluation Criteria

Ability to Execute

A software vendor's Ability to Execute in any market is an indication of the provider's success in attaining industry influence, market presence and reputation, its history of successful business and technical execution, its financial position, and the degree to which it has delivered the essential core functionality expected from a competitive product in the specified market.

The systematic application projects supported by the application platforms have an intended long-term impact. Thus, the project attitude toward technology selection must include a degree of caution (despite the unrelenting pressure to innovate). Ability to Execute is a significant consideration in these selections, because the buyer expects to establish a long-term relationship with, and some degree of dependence on, the vendor. In addition to the importance of an established presence in the relevant markets, buyers highly value the record of other customers' experiences with the vendor.

Given the rapid strategic changes in the business use of IT, buyers value the vendor's ability to respond to market trends in a mature and timely manner. These characteristics are more important here than the flamboyance of the vendor's marketing or the effectiveness of its internal operations (although all of these are notable).

The product/service criterion is the only category that has subcategories. To rate vendors' vision for this criterion, we considered the following defining characteristics, as they apply to a vendor's entire portfolio of application infrastructure offerings in the context of this market:

  • Back-end/service execution engine (weight: high) — An environment that supports the execution of user-defined code, as well as functionality derived from tools and frameworks provided by the platform. The environment should support high-availability and high-performance systems designed to run continuously under load, while being continually maintained, supported and upgraded.
  • Application and service life cycle management (weight: high) — The ability to deploy and retract components in a controlled manner. Additional capabilities around simultaneous support for multiple versions, version/tenant relationships, and links to the operational controls are a plus.
  • Runtime operations management (weight: high) — The ability to start, stop, deploy, scale up and down, and modify the behavioral characteristics of a single application.
  • In-memory data support (weight: medium) — Capabilities enabling applications to store significant volumes of data in application-controlled memory, as opposed to an external, disk-based database or file structure.
  • Dynamic/horizontal scalability (weight: medium) — Support for the creation of new container instances in virtualized environments, or the ability to spread a single instance across virtual or clustered resources. Ability to manage load across these instances and to transfer session state between them if necessary.
  • Security (weight: medium) — Features and capabilities to integrate with local and federated identity management solutions, suitable for a shared environment; also support for the major security modes for API and UI access.
  • Front-end/user experience (weight: medium) — Support for various front-end containers, and the requisite frameworks to develop UI components and the links to back-end code systems. Support for development of, and integration with, mobile applications is a plus.
  • Orchestration capabilities (weight: medium) — Tools to create, maintain and execute flow at the micro level over and above writing such code.
  • Adapters (weight: low) — Availability of prebuilt components that enable access to external resources including application interfaces, cloud APIs, REST services, Web services, data sources and file systems.
  • SOA API management and governance (weight: low) — Mechanisms to catalog and control the availability of interfaces to capabilities constructed in the application, to monitor the use of those capabilities and to manage their life cycle.
  • Core ESB capabilities (weight: low) — Tooling to enable developers to leverage external applications and data sources by providing for protocol translation, as well as communications load balancing, content-based routing and other message management.
  • Data modeling and manipulation (weight: low) — Mapping, transformation, monitoring and modeling.

The criteria and weightings listed in Table 1 determine the vendor's Ability to Execute rating for the Magic Quadrant for On-Premises Application Platforms. A detailed description of other Ability to Execute criteria can be found in "Magic Quadrants and MarketScopes: How Gartner Evaluates Vendors Within a Market."

Table 1. Ability to Execute Evaluation Criteria

Evaluation Criteria

Weighting

Product/Service

High

Overall Viability (Business Unit, Financial, Strategy, Organization)

Standard

Sales Execution/Pricing

Standard

Market Responsiveness and Track Record

High

Marketing Execution

Standard

Customer Experience

High

Operations

Standard

Source: Gartner (June 2013)

Completeness of Vision

The fundamental indication of a software vendor's Completeness of Vision in any market is the degree to which the vendor anticipates and influences prevailing market trends.

For application platforms, the vendor's vision is reflected in its ability to track changing mainstream enterprise requirements, offer long-lasting standards support and enhance the product with modern competitive capabilities, without detracting from its reliability and established levels of service. Thus, the vendor's market understanding and the resulting product directions and positioning, as well as the vendor's investments in intelligent innovation, are all important as prospective users try to estimate how well the vendor will remain aligned with their (and the market's) long-term requirements.

Geographic strategy is important mostly to the largest multinational corporations. However, it is also significant for the organizations considering technology for which the support center may be many time zones away. Vertical/industry strategy is naturally a distinct value to the buyers in the vendor's targeted industries. Sales, marketing and business model strategies are of secondary importance to users, as further assurances of the continuing popularity of the vendor's products in this market. These observations are reflected in the criteria and weightings that are applied to determine each vendor's Completeness of Vision rating (see Table 2).

A detailed description of other Completeness of Vision criteria can be found in "Magic Quadrants and MarketScopes: How Gartner Evaluates Vendors Within a Market."

In addition to the evaluation of released or imminent product features, the vendor's product road maps were also taken into account in all Completeness of Vision ratings. Such road maps are subject to change, but still reflect the current vision of the vendor's business and engineering leadership.

Table 2. Completeness of Vision Evaluation Criteria

Evaluation Criteria

Weighting

Market Understanding

High

Marketing Strategy

Standard

Sales Strategy

Standard

Offering (Product) Strategy

High

Business Model

Standard

Vertical/Industry Strategy

Low

Innovation

High

Geographic Strategy

Standard

Source: Gartner (June 2013)

Quadrant Descriptions

Leaders

Leaders combine an insightful understanding of the realities of the market, a reliable record, the ability to influence the market's direction, the capability to attract and keep a following, and the capacity to lead. A Leader has the proven ability to deliver on its vision and to support its customers through periods of stability, as well as periods of change. Leaders control most of the market's business activity, and are the primary influencers of market evolution. However, the influence of cloud architectures, mobile user interactions and technologies such as in-memory processing are changing this mature market. New vendors have been added due to their delivery of new capabilities, and the Leaders are now challenged to respond.

A Leader is not always the best choice for a particular user's project. A focused, smaller vendor can provide excellent support and commitment to individual mainstream customers, especially when geographic or vertical-industry specifics are important. A vendor may not be rated as a Leader in the overall market, but within a specific segment they may be treated as such.

In this market, leadership is earned through a well-established record of execution and vision. It also requires the stability and reliability of a proven vendor. Qualities include a long-term presence in the market and, as a result, Leaders are typically the largest vendors in the market. They represent safe choices, but may not be state-of-the-art in every aspect of the technology suite, or may not be at the forefront of industry innovation. Some are also known to be focused on their larger customers, leaving the rest of the installed base with less-than-stellar support or pricing options.

Longevity alone does not make a Leader. Leaders may not be first to adopt some breakthrough innovations, but they retain the agility to stay abreast of the market, to pursue new directions, and, often, to deploy their considerable capital and talent to forward-looking research, partnerships and acquisitions. In today's environment, the interactions with mobile computing, integrating on-premises applications with cloud offerings, hybrid cloud and private cloud deployments, as well as deploying new information processing capabilities such as in-memory data, are examples of the forward-looking capabilities that customers seek. It is not enough for a vendor to be dependable in this market. Despite the maturity of this market, prospects expect leadership in innovation as well.

Challengers

Challengers excel in their ability to attract a large user following, but this ability is limited to a subset of prospective users. For members of that target audience, Challengers can be treated as Leaders, but that specificity presents a barrier to adoption for those outside the set. Sometimes, Challengers lack capabilities that are nonoptional requirements for some users, especially Type A innovators. Challengers are typically more conservative than vendors in other quadrants, although their support of market fundamentals is generally proven.

A well-established market presence is one prerequisite for inclusion on this Magic Quadrant, and an understanding and the adoption of multifaceted market requirements is the other. A vendor that builds a successful business, serving a subset of project categories or technical project requirements, but ignores some significant areas of market growth (industry, geography or use pattern) is likely to be rated a Challenger. A Challenger can evolve into a Leader if it adopts aggressive, innovative strategies.

Visionaries

Visionaries are innovators that offer emerging technologies or are invested in addressing the limitations of the other vendors. Some will eventually grow to become Leaders or will be acquired by them (or by Challengers seeking a leadership position in the market). Others will limit their target markets to focus on their core competencies and will become Niche Players, or they will grow in their specialty to become Challengers. While the size of the vendor does not matter, Visionaries often are small vendors that represent aggressive choices for users at somewhat higher risk. Larger vendors may have markets in which they are Visionaries, but have not established an Ability to Execute for that market on a scale commensurate with their size.

In this market, Visionaries invest in market-leading technologies, patterns and best practices for new application projects. These include cloud computing, mobile, social, big data, business analytics, context-awareness, advanced forms of SOA (e.g., event-driven and federated) and in-memory processing, Their technology may also provide breakthrough levels of productivity, performance, platform independence or user interaction. They invest in new software development and the composition of new and old software. Some Visionaries are hampered by their small size. Although they excel at what they do, their inability to compete across broad geographies or multiple industries can keep their total vision rating lower than some Leaders.

Niche Players

Niche Players operate well in a vertical industry, a geographic segment or other specialized market segment, such as serving the installed base of a particular application. They are specialists in their areas, and may represent the optimum choice for some projects or some IT organizations, offering specialized expertise, focused support practices, flexible terms and conditions, and greater dedication to a particular market segment and its customers.

Niche Players often represent the best choice for a specific category of buyer, or for a particular use case. However, they are not suitable across the broad spectrum of organizations and use cases evaluated here. Some Niche Players look to grow their businesses to challenge Leaders. Others discover innovative solutions that attract interest beyond their target market segments, and emerge as Visionaries. However, most Niche Players focus on serving their market segments and customer bases, and generally limit their ambitions to maintaining their segment excellence.

Context

Today's new software products are challenging, because of the many new architectural notions that are coming from the cloud, social, mobile and big data innovations taking place within the technology landscape. Core business applications retain many of their older architectural features, such as service orientation, separation of front and back ends, and loose coupling. Such applications are likely to be composites — that is, they use some services that are newly designed for this application, and some services that are parts of other applications. Support of such an architecture requires a multifunctional, underlying application infrastructure technology (middleware). In some cases, the deployed infrastructure is assembled from middleware offerings belonging to different vendors. Some IT projects prefer this best-of-breed approach, although it requires the IT organization to act as a system integrator in assembling the disparate pieces into a cohesive platform.

In addition, developers are seeking cloudlike capabilities and behaviors. Organizations want their applications to be horizontally scalable, to take advantage of modern virtualized infrastructure, and possibly to leverage IaaS. They must be easy to control from an operational point of view, and fully automated in those respects. They must also leverage new approaches in information management. In-memory data combined with the high degree of parallelism available in today's infrastructure can be used to create complex analytics and highly responsive transaction processing in modern applications. Furthermore, these applications must be deployed with many different types of inputs, from mobile applications to Web-facing APIs. Finally, the life cycle of applications and approaches to managing that life cycle and performing tasks such as testing must be done in a rapid, iterative, agile fashion. Application platforms that support these capabilities are chosen most often, as they facilitate the types of behavior organizations expect from their applications.

Many users prefer to support their projects with an integrated application infrastructure suite provided by one vendor, thus eliminating the burden to act as a system integrator for the application infrastructure. Most vendors recognize this buying pattern by offering technology suites targeting some popular project styles.

The products considered here are for applications that will be deployed on the organization's infrastructure (even if the organization has purchased that infrastructure capability from a hosting or cloud provider). There are other choices if the organization is seeking to develop and then deploy its applications in the cloud. Vendors that only offer cloud-based services will be covered in another Magic Quadrant to be published later this year. However, a vendor supporting on-premises and cloud deployments has an advantage, because it is displaying a progressive vision, and can offer practical solutions to ease the configuration of development and test environments.

The total application platform capability of a vendor can be applied to different types of projects, and can be offered as an integrated, assembled suite or as a collection of separately packaged products. In this research, we examine vendors' application infrastructure worthiness, regardless of the packaging, for modern application projects. "Magic Quadrant for On-Premises Application Integration Suites" examines vendors' capabilities in the area of on-premises integration product sets.

Systematic applications are intended for extended periods of use, carry advanced service-level requirements and typically have an impact on the overall information context of the business organization. These are distinct from opportunistic projects that are undertaken in response to urgent demands and target applications of limited lifetime, responsibility and complexity (see "Opportunistic vs. Systematic AD Projects" [Note: This document has been archived; some of its content may not reflect current conditions.]). These opportunistic projects value time to market and cost optimization above the long-term use and flexibility of the application. This Magic Quadrant focuses only on the application platforms that primarily support systematic project types, in part because opportunistic projects rarely focus on selection of an application platform, but often prioritize finding the best-fit development environment that encapsulates everything else.

Market Overview

This market is a mature software category, based on application server technology, which has had a set of established leading vendors. However, the new requirements mentioned are enabling other vendors with innovative approaches to capture market share, as newer projects to support mobile users, social interactions and cloud capabilities are treated more as systems of innovation and systems of differentiation (see "Use the Pace-Layered Application Strategy to Understand Your Applications Portfolio"). In addition to the newer entrants, established vendors are adding capabilities to their portfolios, driven by changing user requirements and expectations.

Gartner also offers analysis of application integration suites. This type of project focuses on the integration of software that is resident in a variety of systems, custom-designed, purchased, contracted as a cloud service or offered by partner enterprises. There is no focus on the ability to construct new applications. There is also no priority for SOA-style integration at the expense of other integration practices. If your project for building a new application must substantially interact with external resources, then we recommend you reference "Magic Quadrant for On-Premises Application Integration Suites" along with this research to fine-tune your decision process.

A new category of application infrastructure has emerged. As cloud computing moves toward the mainstream, application infrastructure technology emerges that is designed specifically for the requirements of that use pattern (see "Platform as a Service: Definition, Taxonomy and Vendor Landscape, 2012"). In this Magic Quadrant, we do not consider vendors that only provide application platform capabilities as a cloud service (aPaaS). This market is distinct in its requirements and audience and will be evaluated separately.

As organizations attempt to respond to the opportunities presented by social, mobile, cloud and big data trends, their needs and desires around applications and application platform technology have changed. Specific functional capabilities that support initiatives in these areas, such as mobile Web API management, have been added to the requirements for application platform middleware. The expectations around nonfunctional (operational) characteristics have changed. They now include horizontal scalability, automated scale-out/scale-back, multitenancy, simultaneous version deployment, and features to support accelerated development and maintenance life cycles. The addition of social features to support development and operations collaboration, as well as tools and frameworks to simplify the creation and management of social interactions within applications, is also desirable. Newer systems are often run on newer servers with significant numbers of cores and very large memory capacities, creating demand for platforms that simplify parallelism within applications, and use in-memory data management.

Classic requirements, such as integration, have also evolved to include converged application, cloud and B2B capabilities. Mobile UIs are driving many of the application upgrade and renewal projects, and the addition of these capabilities to the traditional desktop and browser interfaces has made the facilities for front-end integration increasingly important. This has brought significant focus on API deployment and security.

Some of the spending on application platforms has shifted away from on-premises software products to cloud services (i.e., aPaaS), which has slowed the revenue growth of vendors of on-premises application platform software. Open-source application platform vendors, which have been seeing increased revenue, have also affected revenue growth of the traditional leaders in this category.

Evaluation Criteria Definitions

Ability to Execute

Product/Service: Core goods and services offered by the vendor that compete in/serve the defined market. This includes current product/service capabilities, quality, feature sets, skills and so on, whether offered natively or through OEM agreements/partnerships as defined in the market definition and detailed in the subcriteria.

Overall Viability (Business Unit, Financial, Strategy, Organization): Viability includes an assessment of the overall organization's financial health, the financial and practical success of the business unit, and the likelihood that the individual business unit will continue investing in the product, will continue offering the product and will advance the state of the art within the organization's portfolio of products.

Sales Execution/Pricing: The vendor's capabilities in all presales activities and the structure that supports them. This includes deal management, pricing and negotiation, presales support, and the overall effectiveness of the sales channel.

Market Responsiveness and Track Record: Ability to respond, change direction, be flexible and achieve competitive success as opportunities develop, competitors act, customer needs evolve and market dynamics change. This criterion also considers the vendor's history of responsiveness.

Marketing Execution: The clarity, quality, creativity and efficacy of programs designed to deliver the organization's message to influence the market, promote the brand and business, increase awareness of the products, and establish a positive identification with the product/brand and organization in the minds of buyers. This "mind share" can be driven by a combination of publicity, promotional initiatives, thought leadership, word-of-mouth and sales activities.

Customer Experience: Relationships, products and services/programs that enable clients to be successful with the products evaluated. Specifically, this includes the ways customers receive technical support or account support. This can also include ancillary tools, customer support programs (and the quality thereof), availability of user groups, service-level agreements and so on.

Operations: The ability of the organization to meet its goals and commitments. Factors include the quality of the organizational structure, including skills, experiences, programs, systems and other vehicles that enable the organization to operate effectively and efficiently on an ongoing basis.

Completeness of Vision

Market Understanding: Ability of the vendor to understand buyers' wants and needs and to translate those into products and services. Vendors that show the highest degree of vision listen and understand buyers' wants and needs, and can shape or enhance those with their added vision.

Marketing Strategy: A clear, differentiated set of messages consistently communicated throughout the organization and externalized through the website, advertising, customer programs and positioning statements.

Sales Strategy: The strategy for selling products that uses the appropriate network of direct and indirect sales, marketing, service, and communication affiliates that extend the scope and depth of market reach, skills, expertise, technologies, services and the customer base.

Offering (Product) Strategy: The vendor's approach to product development and delivery that emphasizes differentiation, functionality, methodology and feature sets as they map to current and future requirements.

Business Model: The soundness and logic of the vendor's underlying business proposition.

Vertical/Industry Strategy: The vendor's strategy to direct resources, skills and offerings to meet the specific needs of individual market segments, including vertical markets.

Innovation: Direct, related, complementary and synergistic layouts of resources, expertise or capital for investment, consolidation, defensive or pre-emptive purposes.

Geographic Strategy: The vendor's strategy to direct resources, skills and offerings to meet the specific needs of geographies outside the "home" or native geography, either directly or through partners, channels and subsidiaries as appropriate for that geography and market.