Is Your Walk Down Enterprise Software Memory Lane Bittersweet?

Dennis Byron

Doing some research to check facts on this May 5 blog post on Technology Solutions Corp. (see End of Enterprise Software Company TSC Is Sign of Times), I came across an index of the stories that ran in Computer Business Review in September 1997. It's a revealing view of the changes in the enterprise software and IT markets in the past decade.


Here's a sample. And I am not cherry-picking; I would say over half the stories just over 10 years ago related to companies that no longer exist.


  • Wang Reels in Big Deal with INS
  • MCI Wins $175M Outsourcing Deal
  • SCO Has New Versionof Vision FS with Network Security
  • Netscape Touts Aurora as Alternative to Microsoft Explorer
  • Computervision Wins $5.4M Hughes Deal
  • Iridium Launch Brings Satellite Total to 34
  • Compaq and DG Turn to Nuview for NT Systems Management
  • DEC and Netscape Sign Bundling Deal
  • Borland Releases C++ for the AS/400
  • Iona Redies DCOM-to-CORBA Bridge
  • JBA'S Future Looks Bright Despite Switch to U.S. Standards
  • Cray Wins Anti-Dumping Case in U.S.; Will Take it to Europe
  • Prodigy Reorganizes into Three Units
  • Quarterdeck Enters Automatic Software Upgrade Market
  • SEC Investigates Informix, Paper Says
  • Cognos Q2 Earnings up 46%, Revenues Rise 26%
  • Company Result: Great Plains Software Inc.
  • Sequent Gets its NT/Unix Ball Rolling, Rejects Ibmulation
  • Rational's Future Uncertain on News of Oracle Product Plans
  • 3COM Announces NIC Supply Deal with Compaq.


So many great names. So many great stories. So many NCCs and Comdexes gone the way of the green screen. Well, at least the last company on that list is still there for a few more weeks. And SCO is still around, but it is not really the Santa Cruz SCO.


I was reminded of this research because I received an e-mail from Houston Neal at the Web site Software Advice. He is soliciting ERP/MRP market history for a timeline his company is building. Give it a look see (you have to scroll about halfway down the page).


But this is not just a trip down memory lane. If you recommended one of these companies' products for your enterprise, how did it work out when the company went south? For an Informix or Rational user whose products got gobbled up into an IBM, you probably even looked good to the boss. Microsoft is taking care of Great Plains users OK, but the product functionality is not growing the way it would have if it had stayed independent. And what about a JBA choice the week before it was bought by Geac (which in turn is buried somewhere in Infor, I think)?


It is unfortunate that one of the major things you IT guys need to look at when acquiring information technology or enterprise software is not the technology or the software, but the company behind it. It's unfortunate but it can be a career killer if you bet on the wrong horse.

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