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Progress Software: the survivor

I recently attended a Progress Software industry analyst meeting in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I love it when I have to travel 20 minutes to a meeting rather than getting onto one of those buses in the sky. I think it is interesting that Progress Software has survived when the companies that it competed with in the fourth generation market have for the most part disappeared. If you are old enough, you will remember when Ingres, Informix, and PowerSoft, and a host of others that I can’t remember ruled the world.

Progress has managed to survive with its original database and development platform intact (it is now called OpenEdge). Today the company has expanded well beyond its roots. It has been able to buy a raft of companies to move beyond its original purpose. While the list is too numerous to mention (I can get away with that in a blog – I can just mention those I feel like) – it managed to purchase the original enterprise service bus (Sonic); a SOA management platform (Actional), and a natural language search engine (now the company’s EasyAsk Division). Progress also bought Apama, a real-time event processing engine that could become important over the next few years.

While the company has its share of enterprise customers, it has something that many larger companies in the enterprise computing space lust after – a sizable share of the SMB market. Its OpenEdge technology is used by thousands of VARs and ISVs to create niche markets that support companies with fewer than 1,000 customers. This is a strategy the company has had for decades. It is impressive that they have been able to sustain this base of partners. It has constructed a Software as a Service platform to support these partners. I will be watching to see if Progress can monetize this strategy moving forward, in light of some stiff competition.

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