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Progress Software, headquartered in Bedford, MA, provides a broad range of
service-oriented architecture (SOA) infrastructure products focusing on
developing, deploying, integrating, and managing business applications.
Founded in 1981, the company trades on the NASDAQ under the symbol
PRGS. Progress reported that for the twelve months ending November 30,
2006, revenue increased 10 percent to $447 million from $405 million in
fiscal 2005. Headquartered in Bedford Massachusetts, the company has
more than 1,600 employees with worldwide headquarters in The
Netherlands, Florida (in support of Central America) and Australia. More...
The company offers enterprise software infrastructure products which include
the Sonic, Actional, DataXtend, and Apama product families. These focus on
integration infrastructure and SOA management, specifically in the area of
messaging and orchestration (Sonic), Business Activity Monitoring (BAM)
and governance (Actional), data integration (DataXtend) and Complex Event
Processing (CEP) (Apama). The company also provides a host of unique but
complementary application development products including DataDirect and
the OpenEdge service-oriented business application platform. The company
also markets an object-oriented database (ObjectStore), natural language
search and e-commerce tools (EasyAsk) and mainframe integration solution
Progress has clients across many industries, including the financial services,
government, telecommunications, retail and manufacturing verticals, and it
counts over 60,000 customer installations in organizations including British
Airport Authority (BAA), Charles River Development, BT, Rotech, Autotrader,
Boehringer Ingelheim, California ISO, First Command, Sharper Image,
Telecom Italia, Tarrant County Texas, Expedia, Boeing, and Ameriquest.
New and expanded Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) customer wins include
BAA, American Red Cross, Expedia, H&M and the Great American
Network Statistics for Progress Software
Statistics updated quarterly as reported by the company.
Progress has parlayed its enterprise SOA, data integration, and application
development toolset strengths to sell deeply into Fortune 100 (80% of the
Fortune 100 use Progress solutions) through a direct sales force. The
company draws on systems integrators such as Adea, Online Business
Systems, BearingPoint, and Accenture to help sell and implement its
solutions, and it maintains its own strategic services staff. It maintains an
active ISV application partner program with 2,000 members, which sell more
than 5,000 applications. More...
Progress derives approximately 54% of its sales outside North America. As
of Q4 2006, software licenses make up about 41% of sales, while service
and maintenance is 59%. In the U.S., the company sells its ESB, data
integration, and SOA management product lines mainly through the Progress
Enterprise Infrastructure sales force; internationally, it draws on the broader
Progress Software sales force and Application Partner channels. Progress
has a presence in over 25 countries, and additionally has distributors in over
40 countries outside North America.
Current Market Market
Market Momentum Vision
Perspective Tier Status
We are taking a positive stance on Progress, as it leverages its successful
Sonic ESB and enterprise messaging products to expand into the general
SOA market through its Actional, DataXtend, Shadow and Apama product
families. With deep Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) functionality and
enterprise-class management and event processing tools, Progress
challenges established Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) and
middleware platform players with standards-based technology, aggressive
pricing, and features geared toward the next generation of SOA solutions.
The company boasts more than 350 successful SOA deployments to date.
More importantly, the company’s DataXtend data integration and
transformation tools are able to work in concert with Sonic, Actional, Shadow
and Apama to create a solution base spanning data integration, process
integration and mainframe integration. Of note is the company’s best-in-class
product approach. Progress products can be sold and run independently,
which allows the company to sell into existing SOA deployments, providing
point solutions as needed, such as CEP, BAM or various data integration
requirements. For example, the company’s Actional product, which can
monitor both short-running synchronous and long-running asynchronous
business transactions, can work directly with application servers from IBM,
Oracle, JBoss, and BEA. More...
One of Progress’ main SOA products is its Sonic ESB offering, which
combines a bus and a framework for incorporating service endpoints in a
secure fashion onto a standards-based communication backbone. Version 7
of its flagship Sonic ESB product includes a unified Eclipse development
interface called Sonic Workbench, and availability options through an
underlying messaging engine (SonicMQ). This includes a low-overhead
option that speeds performance while providing fault-tolerance. Progress has
bolstered its SOA integration portfolio with the integration of Actional’s
runtime SOA monitoring and governance software. Under the Progress
Actional product line, Progress can ensure services, including those run on
other platforms, are up and running with expected performance and security,
and provides runtime enforcement at either the service or business process
level. Progress also supports mainframe customers through technology
acquired from NEON Systems (Shadow product line) in December 2005.
Progress has recently made inroads within the burgeoning telco space, in
particular, working with IBM’s Global Services group to introduce DataXtend
Semantic Integrator into the telecom vertical.
Progress goes to market with a very feature-rich ESB and enabling SOA
technologies. However, this notion has been co-opted by a wide range of
vendors, including traditional EAI vendors and middleware stack vendors
who have picked up on the ESB moniker. These middleware stack players
(Oracle, BEA, SAP, Sun, etc.) can bring a broader range of tools beyond an
application server, development tools, BAM, CEP, etc. to bear on a project.
On the other end of the scale, Sonic faces a threat from lightweight ESBs,
with much less functionality, including “free” open source ESBs for a number
of players such as Red Hat’s JBoss, Sun’s Open ESB, and IONA’s Celtix.
In all, Progress has positioned itself as a strong integration vendor with
numerous SOA-scale capabilities that will appeal to enterprises focusing on
both data and Web service integration. The company is a solid competitor on
price and scalability compared with even larger vendors such as IBM and
BEA. But to truly compete in the SOA market, Progress will need to continue
to merge BPM/BAM with process orchestration and web service design and
testing. It must also add or integrate SOA point-solutions including a portal
and UDDI registry/repository.
Strengths & Weaknesses
• Progress is an established provider of integration products with a heavy
slant toward ESB styles of integration. Its core SOA products in this space
are its Java-based Sonic and Actional process monitoring and management
tools, and its DataXtend semantic data integration tools. These products
come at a low cost (Sonic ESB starts at $10,000 per CPU, for example), and
provides a number of features to help customers build and manage an
enterprise-grade SOA in a highly distributed environment. More...
• Progress' Sonic and Actional products span a wide range of software
architectures, supporting a wide array of emerging WS-* standards and other
interoperability features, focusing on platform support for Microsoft Vista and
.NET. For example, the company natively integrates C# code and supports
CLR containers. Also, with its Dynamic Routing Architecture (DRA), Progress
can propagate WS-Policy and WS-Security semantics across its ESB,
extending support for these standards to pre-WS-* and other legacy
• The company’s approach to selling software within the SOA market rarely
targets a “whole stack” solution. Instead, the sales force and partners target
specific solutions, serviced by one or more Progress best-in-class products,
any of which employs SOA best practices and standards support. This
approach is in line with current SOA adoption models, where businesses
seek out a single, revenue-driving SOA solution that may include only one or
two SOA suite elements such as Sonic ESB for integration or Apama for
• Progress is a leader in the fault-tolerant JMS messaging market with
SonicMQ, which is an established, mature JMS messaging product, with
numerous features for scalability, distributed processing, availability, and
error handling, all under the moniker “Continuous Availability Architecture”
(CAA). SonicMQ, for example, provides continuous mirroring of message
flows to a duplicate hot standby server and transactional fault-tolerance of
non-persistent messages. This translates into 100% fault-tolerance for
solutions employing WS-Reliable Messaging.
• Leveraging its strong partner ecosystem and suite of complementary best-
in-class solutions, Progress has started to take advantage of the emerging
Software as a Service (SaaS) space, targeting vertical-specific solutions with
key partners such as Proclaim in the legal marketplace. With this approach,
already the company has enabled more than 160 partners, covering 400
• With its Actional and Apama product lines, Progress is well positioned to
play an industry leadership role as SOA vendors scramble to realize the
benefits of a merged Complex Event Processing (CEP) and BPM/BAM
solution, particularly within select vertical markets, where the company has
already established some key partnerships. For example, in January of this
year, Progress partnered with Microsoft to provide CEP support for European
BizTalk customers needing to comply with the forthcoming MiFID (Markets in
Financial Instruments Directive) industry requirements.
• While Sonic can host Java-based integration logic in its lightweight,
distributed service container, and can position well against the integration
part of application platform suites, the fact is, it does not have a J2EE
application server or a portal. This puts it at a possible disadvantage with
customers needing to build J2EE-based business logic or J2EE-based Web
services, who are looking for a single vendor solution. More...
• Progress’ Sonic ESB can boast more functionality and a more unified
environment than most ESBs on the market. However the firm is facing
threats from lightweight ESBs, with much less functionality, as these
solutions impose very low ownership and initial startup costs. These threats
include Cape Clear ESB and IBM WebSphere Application Server Express as
well as open source ESB efforts such as JBoss, Sun Open ESB and Iona
Celtix. These have some appeal to larger sites that already have EAI
systems and application servers in place.
• Progress’ message of having an ESB and Enabling SOA has been co-
opted by a wide range of vendors, including traditional EAI vendors and
applications server vendors. Also, companies with integration hubs such as
TIBCO, Sun, and webMethods have repositioned themselves as SOA
management firms with bundled ESBs. As a result, Progress will need to
market its deep set of ESB features, CEP capabilities and real-time
governance aggressively to overcome the noise in this market segment.
• The ProgressActional Looking Glass product does provide end-to-end
process management and monitoring capabilities with automatic policy
enforcement. However the company as yet cannot provide in-line (real-time)
process optimization through process modeling and testing in response to
BAM events designed for business analysts not developers. This puts the
company at a disadvantage compared with more unified solutions from
competitors such as webMethods, BEA and TIBCO.
• Progress affords UDDI 3.0 interoperability with an external registry-
repository solution. However, without its own best-of-breed solution, from
which it can expand the capabilities of its Sonic and Actional product lines,
the company will be at a disadvantage compared with competitors, which can
market a single process management solution, including BEA with Flashline,
webMethods with Infravio and SOA Software with Blue Titan.
Recommended Vendor Actions
• Progress should consider delivering an OSS messaging server like JBoss
or Geronimo together with Sonic and Actional. The company already
integrates well with JBoss solutions and could easily simplify sales efforts
through the inclusion of and support for a J2EE application server. More...
• Progress should refine its market messaging of being heterogeneity-
friendly. Most vendors (including TIBCO, webMethods, IBM, Sun, even
Oracle) now adopt this “vendor neutral SOA solution provider“ messaging
stance. To differentiate, the company must call attention to its ability to
deeply integrate with specific vendor solutions, as evidenced by its recently
announced Ghost agents for Oracle and JBoss.
• The company should more actively promote its Eclipse-based OpenEdge
development suite, touting its ability to do round-trip development with other
Progress tools. While the majority of Progress’ revenue comes from the
OpenEdge platform, this product is perceived as a legacy 4GL tool and is not
perceived in the market as a fully capable SOA development environment.
To reverse this perception, Progress is positioning its OpenEdge product as
an Advanced Business Language (ABL) tool.
• Progress should continue to partner to provide UDDI capabilities but should
strongly consider developing its own or acquiring a UDDI registry/repository.
The company should also consider storing its Actional and Apama policy and
services information within this repository. Regardless, in order to compete in
the long run, Progress will need to provide its own repository-based SOA
management solution, not just point solutions for BAM, CEP and ESB.
• While the company’s Actional product can boast run-time governance
across the process lifecycle, by deeply integrating its CEP product, Apama,
the company can create a significant differentiator. To this end, Progress
should further integrate Apama and Actional, adding complex process and
temporal events to Actional's list of monitoring triggers.
• The firm should continue its strong support for Microsoft platforms as Vista
moves into the marketplace. Since Microsoft is at this time not expected to
focus on an ESB or SOA management product, there is plenty of room to fill
in functionality through Actional, Sonic ESB and other Progress products that
can work seamlessly within .NET and Vista environments.
Recommended Competitor Actions
• Competitors in the integration space (specifically Microsoft) should consider
an “ESB” product in order to compete in the mid-market and even in some
larger accounts. This product should be low cost, depend heavily on Web
Service endpoints and process technology, and include some type of SOA
management feature. More...
• Competitors who already have management and monitoring tools within
their SOA suites (including IBM and Oracle) should bring this functionality
closer to their ESBs and/or integration products to provide management of
both processes and transactions.
• SOA suite competitors such as webMethods, Sun, IBM, and TIBCO should
promote the fact that they have a broader range of SOA solutions that can
work both independently or together, even within solution-specific suites such
those found in Sun’s Java System Suites.
• Competitors such as webMethods, BEA, Sun, IBM, etc., with both a strong
portal and registry offering as a part of their SOA suites, should point out
Progress’ need to partner for both solutions and that such partnerships will
not afford Progress with the same level of cross-product integration
• SOA competitors with a single BPM/BAM solution (such as webMethods)
should promote their ability to move code across development, testing,
deployment, monitoring and optimization using business analyst-friendly
standards such as Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) and
Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN).
Recommended End User/Customer Actions
• New prospects looking for an SOA-aware integration platform should
consider Sonic’s ESB due to its maturity, its lower cost compared to
traditional EAI, and its lighter footprint compared with larger middleware
stacks that contain an integration component. More...
• Users needing to solve complex data integration problems should strongly
consider Progress’ advanced, best-of-breed products DataXtend and Sonic
product lines, which can ensure both transaction and semantic integration.
• Potential customers with existing JBoss’ ESB should consider Progress
Actional as a point solution capable of providing the level of BAM and real-
time enforcement missing with JBoss’ BMP and rules toolsets.
• Users should consider the Actional/Sonic combination as a credible SOA
offering. Current users and new prospects should ask about points of
integration now and in the future between Sonic and Actional product suites.
• Sonic users and others in need of an enterprise messaging system should
definitely consider SonicMQ, due to the improvements in fault tolerance and
other incremental features. Users, however, should consider that depending
on what other fault tolerant hardware/software they have in-house, they may
not want to go to the trouble to set up mirrored servers for messaging.
Revision Added Date
• February 2007: Updated document 2/20/2007
to reflect current market conditions
and vendor activities.
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