Situations like this typically need a single vendor to take the first step, and then others follow. In this vein, we believe that IBM's move to acquire the 2nd largest B2B service provider in the world will get others (like Oracle, Software AG and TIBCO) to consider similar moves. Why? If you are a vendor that provides internally focused application and process integration solutions, the next logical step is to provide comprehensive B2B integration solutions to address the full range of the integration needs of your customers. That means B2B solutions that go beyond support for Web services and AS2-based EDI/INT transactions.

The vast majority of enterprises that are involved with B2B activity still rely heavily on 3rd party B2B networks for the movement of their EDI transactions. Many of these firms have large trading partner communities that have proven to be highly resistant to change where the prevailing attitude seems to be, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." The fact of the matter is that B2B networks will continue to play a key role in meeting overall enterprise integration needs for the foreseeable future.

Another factor that we believe drove IBM's decision is the emergence and growing importance of cloud-based SaaS integration solutions. These applications require a hosting environment, and the Sterling Collaboration Network is tailor-made to fit this new requirement. IBM will now have its own B2B network to support this growing market. There are many other interesting aspects to this proposed acquisition. For details, refer to our just-published document entitled "IBM To Acquire Sterling Commerce":

What's your opinion on this? Do you think more consolidation is on the horizon? Drop me a line at to let me know what you think.