In a recent press release, Progress Software Corporation (PSC) announced a changed strategy, in which they intend to refocus on their original database and software development tools, and drop what are now considered “non-core” products (notably the Actional, Savvion and Sonic brands).

This at a time when middleware, especially BPM and ESB/SOA, has finally exited the hype phase and actually started seeing worthwhile application in business settings. The new Progress focus is on cloud development, positioning themselves as

“a leading provider of a next-generation, context-aware application development and deployment platform in the Cloud for the Application Platform-as-a-Service (aPaaS) market”

It should be pointed out that this is a shift from great middleware products with an excellent track record, to products that, while the components may exist, are otherwise not currently available.

The move seems to be the brainchild of new CEO Jay Bhatt, and seems to reflect his background in software applications at Autodesk Inc, the AutoCAD people. I have a couple of problems with the idea:

  • It’s a risky (and “fashion-driven”?) play into the cloud arena. By itself, that’s not necessarily an issue (I think there is considerable potential there, and it certainly leverages Progress’ heritage in software development and deployment), but it is a start-up playground, and PSC may not have the mindset or the lack of constraints that a garage band does.
  • They’re effectively killing the middleware product value they have by announcing a slow death for them. As MWD suggests in @neilwd’s post on the topic, the sales pipeline for those products has just disappeared – reducing any revenue to PSC pre-sale, and reducing the value (and therefore the sale price) of the assets. It would have been much better to have organised the sale/spin-off prior to this announcement.

I will confess to a little personal angst, too: I’ve used most of the Sonic kit, and have a high regard for the Savvion product, and I suspect that they will now be an example of excellent products lost in the sea of mediocrity sailed by big-box purveyors …