Barron’s writes about the shift from enterprise application integration (EAI) software vendors to application server vendors.
To some extent, the application integrators, such as Tibco, webMethods, SeeBeyond, Vitria Technology, and Mercator fulfilled their promise — some more than others — but the group has not performed over the long-haul nearly to the degree that many analysts and investors envisioned. Much of the blame justifiably rests on the companies themselves. Their products were often expensive, difficult to install and labor-intensive. But more importantly, during what was supposed to be their moment of glory at the turn of the century, much of the integration action shifted toward connecting with systems outside the firewall via the Internet. The emergence of “application servers” — layers of software sitting on top of operating systems that connect to the Internet — by BEA Systems, IBM, Microsoft, and to much lesser degrees Sun Microsystems and Oracle, stole much of the EAI group’s thunder. The application server became core of the enterprise universe, at least for a shining moment.