IBM Corp. continued to lead the market for application deployment software in 2003, but the field will become far more competitive as customers migrate away from IBM’s mainframe and OS/400 systems, according to new figures released by IDC.

“I’m predicting a wide-open opportunity for the first time in years because of the natural evolution away from the old mainframe-type middleware,” said Dennis Byron, IDC’s analyst for business process automation and deployment software.

IDC’s figures include worldwide sales of application, Web and integration server software, as well as middleware products for messaging, transactions and integration. They account for both new licenses and follow-up activity related to the previous year’s sales, IDC said.

The overall market for such software grew 4.4 per cent in 2003, to just over US$7 billion, and will con