BPM and SOA, Cordys style

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Content Copyright © 2008 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.

The BPM market is going through a change process and many of the old categorises are no longer appropriate, as BPM products all provide support for application integration and human workflow. One of the key sales messages from BPM vendors is the relationship between SOA and BPM. Cordys have entered the BPM market with a version 2 product that not only provides BPM to support SOA, but is itself developed on SOA. At the beginning of December 2007, I met Jon Pyke, Chief Strategy Officer of Cordys, to be briefed on their product and strategy. For those of you who have been involved in BPM for sometime the name will be familiar.

So, who are Cordys? Well, they are the latest software company to be founded by Jan Baan. The company was founded in 2001 and has its headquarters in Putten, the Netherlands and San Jose, California. There are some 500 employees with about half employed at their software factory in India. Sales offices are to be found in the US, China, India, Germany, the Netherlands and, as of the September 2007, the UK. Financially, Cordys are well off. The major shareholder is the Vanenburg Group which is the Baan family trust. In April 2007, Cordys secured US$ 80 million investment, the single largest round of funding for a BPMS vendor. Currently, Jon Pyke told me, their revenue is already greater than $20M after 18 months trading with some 70 customers. Impressive credentials for a new company!

So what about the product? The Cordys platform is a set of architecturally integrated, service-oriented components covering BPM and BAM. All of this is supported on what Jon Pyke described as “the Switch between all Enterprise Service Buses”—the SOA Grid. In some ways, the SOA Grid is not a component but pervasive throughout the whole product. The whole product has been built upon web service standards. The main components of the platform are:

  • Cordys SOA Grid: this is a stateless communication switch between all services, including existing ESBs, within an enterprise. The SOA Grid offers more than basic transport, it also provides secure transfer and data integration, as well as a basic identity management system.
  • Cordys Non Stop: this is a framework that configures a fully non-stop, fault-tolerant environment with no single point of failure and linear scalability. It enables customers to build mission-critical solutions on commodity hardware/software.
  • Cordys BPM: this is the development and runtime environment for processes and their associated business rules. In combination with Cordys Non Stop, this offers a non-stop, highly scalable business process execution environment.
  • Cordys Composite Application Framework (CAF): this is an application development environment that is used to create new business services from scratch, using a 4GL-like environment and using the rules engine capability where relevant. It includes also AJAX based mashup capabilities for front end development.
  • Cordys Business Activity Monitoring (BAM): this provides real-time monitoring of performance by means of predefined and ad-hoc process analysis and event management.

The SOA Grid uses existing JMS-compliant messaging systems. It also provides content-based routing and message transformation through XSLT. It does not require a separate Java EE application server, but provides its own lightweight environment that requires only a JVM.

CAF provides for the creation and management of XForms-based user interfaces to the deployed applications. There is a graphical design environment with libraries of widgets and controls. The generated user interfaces use a zero-deployment AJAX rich-client model. Communication with the SOA environment is via SOAP messages.

CAF includes a collaboration portal that provides Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) on operational data. A basic reporting tool is also provided. It provides a mashup tool for rapidly creating application composites using content from multiple sources. This latter capability is provided in conjunction with WebEx.

One of the key sales messages of Cordys is to show how it enables collaboration between IT and business, thus removing the biggest obstacle to effective business process automation. This is achieved by both groups using a common set of business process models (BPMN). Business users employ these executable graphic models to automate workflows and thus manage their own processes. IT then connects the models to legacy or backend systems and thus building and managing the composite applications that automate these processes. Cordys uses a combination of BPMN for the design and modelling of processes and human workflow with BPML for the execution.

Cordys is a 2nd generation BPMS tool with its support for SOA principles built in. Bloor sees the architecture as one that shows its technological heritage and a good understanding of the needs of the business users and IT to work together. Bloor would recommend that Cordys be included in any shortlist.