When you read the IT press or an analyst's report it is easy to forget that many vendors seldom get a mention.
Not every company has a $1m marketing budget and a hotline to the media. In fact, marketing can paper over many strategic and technical cracks.
When it comes to channel and original equipment manufacturer partnerships it makes sense to consider smaller players as well as the bigger ones.
Sometimes small firms make the best partners. They tend to be hungry and customer-focused, and they have a low signal-to-noise ratio when it comes to their marketing. Pervasive Software is such a firm.
When you sign up as a Pervasive independent software vendor in Europe, the company can show you a picture of the person who is going to answer all of your first-line support calls.
That may seem quaint, but such personal service is surely an antidote to the big vendors' cost-driven call centre operations?
Pervasive's revenue may be a drop in the ocean compared with Oracle's, but then, it does answer the phone when small companies ring.
Pervasive, by the way, owns Btrieve, the flat file database used by so many Netware shops. However, the firm is mainly pushing its Pervasive.SQL relational database.
Pervasive deals almost exclusively with packaged application vendors. It doesn't sell its database products direct to end-users, let alone sell packaged applications to them.
Being small doesn't mean it lacks ambition, though. The firm has acquired a couple of firms recently to augment its portfolio. These deals will broaden Pervasive offerings, making them more attractive to its existing application partners.
To meet the need for more integration capability, Pervasive acquired Data Junction, a well-established integration tools vendor.
Data Junction sells enterprise application integration technology, but has also been positioned as an extract transform and load vendor.
It connects to a broad range of systems, and includes a number of EDI and business integration templates. This functionality could be a boon for supply-chain-oriented apps vendors.
Meanwhile, end-users are demanding better security and reliability in their core platforms. Pervasive has therefore focused on auditing, accountability and availability.
Pervasive.SQL 8 Security, available as an add-on to the core database, offers a single authentication model across both of Pervasive's database platforms, Btrieve and Pervasive.SQL.
This should allow developers to extend existing Btrieve investments. And thanks to the assets of ThinkNet, which was acquired earlier this year, Pervasive. SQL now offers audit capabilities to track database access down to the user level.
Pervasive DataExchange 2.5, again the fruits of an acquisition, is a replication engine with a straightforward API. This allows for disaster recovery, and is already being used as such by some of Pervasive's ISV partners.
Pervasive is, of course, a small independent player in a tough economy. It also has significant legacy concerns; many Pervasive customers are still running older versions of Btrieve, for example, and see no reason to upgrade.
But the firm has thousands of ISVs writing packaged apps to its platforms and delivering its technology to smaller end-users through ISVs. Yes, it supports Linux too, making it an interesting alternative to Microsoft SQL Server in small accounts.
The ISVs working with Pervasive include Accpac, FiServ Solutions, Iris, Great Plains, McKesson HBOC, Nortel Networks and Sage. That's right, you have heard of many of them. But you have never heard of Pervasive.
Isn't that how it should be if you're a packaged application vendor? Of course, there are risks working with smaller firms. On the other hand there may be clear advantages in terms of the relationship and ability to exert control on its development direction.
Pervasive wants to be pervasive, but is not aiming to be highly visible.
James Governor is principal analyst at RedMonk.
Tel: 020 7254 7371
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