The November 4 announcement that Francisco Partners has successfully spun out the old Hummingbird-Solution 6 brands of CABS, CMS/Data, Elite, Keystone, Lawpoint, and Novient professional services ERP software under the Aderant nameplate reminds me that it is time to start working on an article I have promised to do on the consolidation of the enterprise software industry. To be honest, I am not sure exactly which software brands made it through the Telestra-MYOB machinations involving Solution 6 in 2002-2004 but the above list, including the venerable CMS -- which started out in the 1970s as a Data General value added reseller -- is a good approximation.
And there is no doubt that the consolidation in enterprise software continued in 2008. Oracle leads the way. The leading database company may have passed Computer Associates and Infor in terms of lining up the most disparate brands and incompatible architectures ever under one nameplate. The recent Primavera announcement is only one example. Many of Oracle's acquisitions are really the acquisition of two or more different software products, just as with Aderant's history. BEA, of course, was also at least Fuego, Plumtree and Tuxedo. Haley was legacy Haley and Ruleburst. Skywire includes at least Docucorp, IIT and Whitehill. And that's just this year. Ditto for Siebel, Retek and PeopleSoft -- all the way through the dozens of Oracle acquisitions since 2002.
How does the consolidation of the market affect IT? In the Oracle example, if you are a user of one of these brands, you are now an Oracle user. Does Oracle want you for your good looks or your monthly maintenance check? The 'milk 'em dry' strategy of Computer Associates (not to be confused with the new CA) may not be Oracle's strategy. If you are thinking of implementing one of these brands, a reference from an old Docucorp, Plumtree, J.D. Edwards, etc. user is not really a good reference today because those users do not yet know what being an Oracle user is going to mean. And if you are thinking that it will all come together someday under Fusion, you are right. But ask any Mapics user -- who has been passed from IBM to Marcam to separate company to Infor over the last 15 years -- how long it takes to get to 'some day.'
If you have a favorite old brand that you would like me to track down while I'm working on my article, leave a comment or send an e-mail.