We're going to be doing an IT Business Edge feature article soon on the consolidation of the enterprise software industry. It's important because the consolidation converts to fewer choices for you in IT departments and jobs. So I thought it might make sense to compare the annual Software 500 listing from this year with the same source in 1997 to see the physical evidence.
For starters, the Software 500 now includes services revenue in its ranking criteria. I think that makes sense because of the move to software-as-a-service (SaaS), but it makes a true apples-to-apples comparison of the two lists imperfect.
The new methodology also raises the question of what type of service is being counted. SaaS - OK. IBM management services - such as from the former Price Waterhouse - shouldn't be counted. As a result, this year's Software 500 -- as was true a decade ago in the 1997 edition -- ranks IBM first and Microsoft second in the market. But any reasonable comparison of the two companies' software/service revenue makes Microsoft first in 2007, two to three times larger than the IBM Software Group.
As for the consolidation of which I speak, requiem in pace for 1997 Software 500 listees (just looking at the top 100 and in order of their 1997 ranking) to DEC, Informix, ICL (actually I think they were already part of Fujitsu in 1997), Andersen, Geac, Peoplesoft, Platinum Technology, Sterling Software, Computervision, Netscape, J. D. Edwards, Baan, Candle, SSA, Claris (could argue how to categorize it), Seagate, Sterling Commerce -- now part of AT&T and the company that turned me on to this walk down memory lane*, Boole & Babbage, FileNet, CoCreate, Marcam, Cognos, JBA, Intersolv, Hyperion, McDonnell Data, Wall Data, Pure Atria, WRQ, Macromedia, Viewlogic, Policy Management, Quarterdeck, Banyan, Intentia, IDX, Rational, S&CT - I think, Comshare, Remedy, Business Objects and Ross.
That's almost 50 percent of the bigger enterprise software companies on the then-top 100. The churn is even more incredible further down the list. This could be worth another post.
*Of course, the AT&T that Sterling is a part of isn't the AT&T on the list 10 years ago either. But that's also another blog post.