May 24, 2011
As you might have heard, Terracotta -- the makers of Ehcache, the Terracotta Server Array, Quartz Scheduler and Big Memory recently announced their intent to be acquired by German software company Software AG. If you're wondering who Software AG is, you're probably not alone. Until recently, Software AG was a relatively little known company in the US. Although they've been in business since the late 1960's, their main market had been Europe. That all changed in 2007 when they acquired WebMethods, one of the largest providers of integration systems and services. This more than doubled their North American customer base. They continued to fuel their rapid growth from their mainly through acquisition. After WebMethods came IDS Scheer in 2009, Data Foundations in 2010, and now Terracotta. Each of their acquisitions has succeeded in growing their customer base, and in most cases, their revenue as well.
So, why Terracotta when Software AG is known as a business process and SOA infrastructure company? The first reason is for the technology itself, mainly Ehcache, Terracotta, and Big Memory. Software AG has big plans for the cloud, and in-memory capability and scalability play a huge part in building out their PaaS infrastructure. There are other potential benefits as well. Open source Ehcache claims an install base of over 500,000 with a sizeable open source community to back it. Although Software AG has little experience in the open source market, they've committed to the Ehcache and Quartz communities going forward. There's also the opportunity to improve job scheduling within the existing WebMethods suite. If you've ever used their existing scheduler, you know that it leaves much to be desired.
The company I work for has been a Software AG customer for close to 7 years now. We started with their ESB (Crossvision Service Orchestrator) and Tamino XML database, upgraded to WebMethods Integration Server after the merger, and have added capabilities around Business Activity Monitoring and SOA Governance since then. All along the way, Software AG has worked closely with us to meet our often challenging requirements. I think in that respect, Terracotta customers are in good hands. I've also spent considerable time working with Ehcache and Terracotta over the past 3 years now – writing articles and blog posts about their caching technology as well as speaking at several conferences. Although I didn't see the acquisition coming, I think combining the passion and talent of the folks at Terracotta with the resources and track record of Software AG will be a win for everyone involved.
While that last statement might sound like rainbows and unicorns, there is one area where I hope Software AG can learn from Terracotta, and that's community. Having been involved with various technology communities over the years, I feel that the Software AG community could use some help. With the exception of a few sites, there's little evangelism that happens outside of Software AG branded properties. Sure there are official Software AG blogs, and Software AG forums, but what I don't see is a vibrant community outside of Software AG writing about and talking about their products. Contrast that with Terracotta, and especially the Ehcache community and you'll see exactly what I mean. Let's hope that Software AG makes the most of the community they're getting along with the technology.