iAnywhere Bundles Up
Need proof that the mobile software market is in a state of flux? Consider that major players like Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK), BlackBerry , and Sybase Inc. are trying to expand beyond their mobile email or management roots and offer more integrated packages to corporate users. Often, however, this can be a complex task as companies like Sybase and Nokia bought companies to add to their software portfolio, which means they then need to start integrating this code so that it works with their other products.
This is part of the reason that Sybase's iAnywhere Solutions Inc. division is singing and dancing about its new iAnywhere Suite, which brings together its mobile email, security, management, and development tools in "a modular package" for the first time. The company claims this will make it easier for users to manage mobile devices and applications across the enterprise.
The firm has sold those four pieces of the mobile middleware puzzle for a number of years. Now the user can manage all four from a single console, thanks to behind-the-scenes integration work, according to Shirley Macbeth, senior director of marketing at the Sybase subsidiary.
Analysts see the move as a sensible one for iAnywhere but suggest that the firm's larger rivals -- Microsoft, Nokia, Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL), and RIM -- are all headed down the same path.
"Oracle has been going through the same pains with all of its acquisitions," says Jack Gold, analyst at J.Gold Associates. "Intellisync/Nokia have used the same basic argument in its marketing for mobile middleware, although I don't think it offers the same level of capability as does iAnywhere. RIM has already started moving down this path, with MDC built on top of BES [BlackBerry Exchange Server]. It will likely add more components in the future."
"I think it is good that they did this, as many companies were confused on how to buy and use them," says Ellen Daley at Forrester Research Inc. , explaining that Sybase had "a lot of disparate stuff."
Daley, however, is not clear that the offering will change the outlook of users all that much.
"I actually see this demand as very spotty -- some types of companies want this, but with existing software vendors extending their products out in a mobile way, application vendors like Siebel and endpoint management vendors like Altiris, I don’t see very high demand for this," she says. "But this is the old debate about mobile middleware in general all the way back from 2000 when VCs invested tons of money in companies like Brience and Everypath, and they did not go anywhere."
For its part, iAnywhere is stressing the modular nature of its offering, saying users will still be able to buy the separate applications if they wish.
This could be important. According to Gold, "Most companies do not buy complete mobile middleware suites right off the bat. They are more interested in buying point solutions to fill their needs. What iAnywhere is trying to do is, say, buy only the components you need, but when you are ready to expand to other components, it will be easy because they are all integrated and built on the same framework."
Whatever the company does, however, some analysts still see the firm's problems as deeper than a bundle.
"Sybase is struggling to find relevance in a market literally dominated now by Oracle and where even Microsoft and IBM may be somewhat trivialized," says Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.
That's a huge problem and they are attempting to step out from under Oracle's shadow through creative marketing. Unfortunately Oracle isn't doing badly in terms of driving demand to their products through targeted marketing and, particularly in this market, size does matter."
The Sybase Information Anywhere Suite is expected to be available in the third quarter of this year.
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung