At the beginning of March 2008, I was invited to meet with Jean-François Abramatic, ILOG's Chief Product Officer and Brett Stineman, their BRMS Product Marketing Director, at their UK office in Bracknell to hear about the company and their plans for the BRMS market. In this, the first of 2 articles, I will look at ILOG the company and their product offerings. In the second article, I will look at the Business Rule Management System (BRMS) product set.
So who are ILOG? ILOG was founded in 1987. It has headquarters on both sides of the "pond"; Gentilly, France and Sunnyvale, California, USA. Reflecting this joint headquarters, its stock is quoted on both NASDAQ and Euronext. There are subsidiaries in the UK, Germany, Japan, Singapore and Spain. ILOG has some 860 employees worldwide, with some 3,000 customers. Revenues for fiscal 2007 were $161.5 million.
What do they sell? ILOG are most well-known for their Java-based BRMS—ILOG JRules. There are currently 2 other BRMSs: one for C++ and the other for .NET. The latter is not a port of JRules but a complete new product built upon the .NET Platform. There is a product evaluation of these products available from the Bloor Research site (http://www.bloorresearch.com/).
Since ILOG's foundation they have offered one of the leading products in operations research for optimisation. A large number of universities make use of ILOG CPLEX—a Math Programming Engine—as well as some 1000 other customers. In addition, ILOG has a constraint programming optimiser—CP Optimizer. ILOG have developed a special modelling language for its optimisation products, which is supplied in an IDE—ILOG OPL Development Studio. ILOG Optimization Decision Manager (ODM) is a specialised application development tool that helps users build and deploy decision support applications. ILOG optimisation products are used by a number of leading supply chain management software vendors, as well as in research programs at over 1,000 universities around the world.
A third area that ILOG offers products in is visualisation. Sitting on top of Java, .NET, C++ and Adobe Flex/AIR, ILOG provides graphic libraries, components and tools to create advanced interactive user interfaces for rich desktop and rich internet applications. The ILOG products have become a de facto industry standard for GUIs in traditional networked environments, according to Rob Rich of The Yankee Group. Using ILOG Visualization, a vast array of diagrams, charts, Gantt charts, maps, dashboards, SCADA/HMI displays, Defence maps and Telecom maps are possible.
In April 2007, ILOG completed its acquisition of LogicTools, creating the ILOG LogicTools Supply Chain Applications Suite. Through these products, ILOG customers have access to a line of supply chain applications, including the LogicNet Plus supply chain network design, Inventory Analyst for inventory optimisation and ILOG Plant Power Ops for production planning and scheduling.
Although ILOG's financial year runs from July to June, like many software companies, ILOG wants to talk about the whole of the calendar year 2007, which has been a very successful year for the company with double digit growth. Of course a lot of this has been generated by the Business Rules Products, but their Optimization product set generated around 17% growth. Calendar 2007 has also been the year in which ILOG have concentrated their efforts on getting closer to Microsoft, as Abramatic put it "the last of the big 4 for us to build a real relationship with". The success of this can be judged by ILOG joining Microsoft's Business Process Alliance in December 2007 and by their 3.0 release of the Rules for .NET product, earlier this year (Jan 2008).
Calendar 2007 has seen a number of product releases from ILOG already; these include:
- A six-month free trial of ILOG JRules along with the debut of the BRMS Resource Center and the introduction of Transparent Decision Services to support SOA
- Enhancements to ILOG CPLEX to improve decision making speed for planning and scheduling
- Introduction of ILOG Elixir for Adobe Flex and AIR platforms providing a rich internet application development environment (this was combined with an exclusive reseller agreement with Adobe for Elixir)
- A Carbon Footprint module for LogicNet Plus XE supply chain network planning product to provide what ILOG claim as its first clean technology product
ILOG's business strategy is based on diversification, not only in terms of the products offered or in terms of platforms supported, but also in terms of target audience, in that it is divided into:
- A Solutions Strategy based on their acquisition of LogicTools and their custom application portfolio, which are targeted at business executives
- A Technology and Platform Strategy based on BRMS, Optimization and Visualization product lines which is aimed at technically competent IT and OR personnel and ISVs, who will utilize these products to develop agile decision management applications.
So, is ILOG just a business rules company, or just an optimisation company, just selling to IT and/OR techies. No, here we have a French-American company that is truly diversified, but seeing a clear single view as to how its whole product portfolio can support business in today's ever changing environment.