The development tools market is in decline and will consolidate rapidly over the next five years, making it difficult for users to choose which product to base their application development strategies on.
By 2000, the gap between leaders in the workgroup space and the rest will widen, leading to smaller, niche players either being bought or forced to change their focus from product development to client support. Others will attempt to move into the Internet space, but by 2001, some 70 per cent of companies here will be acquired by other vendors too.
By 2002, the chasm between leaders at the high end and the rest of the market will also widen, which means that at least two thirds will be relegated to niche roles, acquired or forced out of business.
Darryl Plummer, Gartner?s vice president and research director for application development, explained the impact on users at the consultancy?s fifth annual Enterprise Systems conference in Chicago this week.
?If your vendor goes out of business, I?d usually say find another, but in this instance, I can?t. It?s very difficult to pick a strategic choice at the moment, but it?s safe to say that none of the leading vendors will disappear in the next two years. I?d advise you to stay the course until the market settles down or just choose one of the leaders based on what you want to get done. Many of them will be bought for their technology though, and this will outlive the company,? he said.
Small to medium-sized organisations would be best advised to go for standardised middleware and tools from just one supplier, wherever possible, and take advantage of the emerging ?supergroups? of tools. These are bundles of a vendor?s own and third party tools that provide users with a range of functionality across the development lifecycle.
While not ?best-of-breed?, ?they have to be taken as a whole and you have to look at the trade-off,? Plummer said.
Large organisations, on the other hand, will still need to purchase a more heterogeneous range of tools and middleware, but should buy based on a three year return on investment, bearing in mind that products should provide rapid and flexible development of increasingly complex packages.
IS departments should also reexamine their development cultures to try and ensure the reuse of application ?building blocks? such as frameworks, templates and component libraries.
Plummer predicts that by 2003, 70 per cent of new applications will be built in this way to increase speed to market and improve the enterprise?s ability to cope with change, while his colleague Erik Keller, takes the argument one step further and claims that software will become disposable.
?We?ll go to templates R US and just use a new one when we need it in a similar way to the consumer electronics market now. It?ll be cheaper to do that than have an old one fixed,? he said.
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