The Economist writes about the platform wars in business software:
For SAP, the platform is NetWeaver (and its successor, due in 2007), which is software that sits above a database and links together applications. To increase its chances of success, it is a platform that we will open up to other players, that will build innovation, gushes Henning Kagermann, the boss of SAP. Third-party developers will be able to sell software that works alongside SAP applications, using NetWeaver interfaces.
Oracle, meanwhile, believes that the crucial platform is the database, in which it has almost 60% of the market. It is moving into applications in order to offer the platform as part of an integrated system. The reason you see these companies get into each other’s businesses is that customers are asking the larger vendors to take more responsibility for the infrastructure, says Charles Phillips, president of Oracle.
Two giants are also lurking on the fringes of the war. Mighty Microsoft has bought several firms to sell products for the small business market (but is struggling to integrate them). IBM disdains selling applications and, for now, is focused on its software platform, WebSphere, wary of hurting its services business by competing against its partners.