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Ongoing Transition to Cloud Disrupts Legacy Vendors

Last year was challenging for many traditional software vendors, particularly those that have been slow to embrace the shift to cloud services. Worldwide application infrastructure and middleware (AIM) software revenue totaled $23.9 billion in 2015 -- that's 0.1 percent growth from 2014, according to the latest study by Gartner.

The rapid adoption of enterprise platform-as-a-service (PaaS) cloud offerings, often applied as a foundation for digital business transformation projects, may have caught some legacy software vendors by surprise. Meanwhile, those with strategic foresight were able to adapt to the market development momentum.

"The PaaS segment showed the most impressive growth, not just in the AIM market but across the entire enterprise software market," said Fabrizio Biscotti, research director at Gartner. "Integration PaaS (iPaaS) grew 55 percent in U.S dollars, while application PaaS (aPaaS) grew 40 percent, despite headwinds from the appreciating U.S. dollar."

Demand for Cloud-First DevOps Models

While older technology remains the first choice for the most demanding application scenarios, the evolving maturity of cloud application infrastructure now offers greater agility, scalability and efficiency than traditional on-premises technologies. These benefits are key components of DevOps methodologies.

This ongoing transition to cloud services and the emerging wave of innovation surrounding the Internet of Things (IoT) further pushes application infrastructure spending away from older models toward event-driven analysis and processes.

"Market concentration among the largest vendors is diminishing under pressure from specialists, and open source and cloud providers," said Mr. Biscotti. "The growth of iPaaS and aPaaS has, largely, not worked out to the benefit of the market incumbents."

Gartner says that Salesforce continues to disrupt the AIM market, with its revenue growing more than 36 percent. Their recent growth performance underlines the trend of cloud-only firms and smaller specialists picking up market share at the expense of large traditional software vendors.

Marketing, Not Technology, Drives Transition

This trend is consistent with AIM buyers' pursuit of innovation -- not necessarily from a technology perspective, but most of all from go-to-market, business model and delivery channel perspectives. That being said, the successful vendors have excelled at marketing. They articulate a distinctive business transformation story to Line of Business (LoB) leaders and IT buyers.

"2015 was the year that iPaaS became a serious alternative to traditional software-based integration approaches," said Keith Guttridge, research director at Gartner.

Buyers are choosing iPaaS due to its lower entry costs, reduced operational demands and improved productivity. Vendor interest in this space is also growing rapidly, with the number of offerings doubling in the past 12 months.

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