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This is the third in a series of articles I shall be producing based on a major piece of research being undertaken by Bloor Research on the BPMS market. My thanks go to Matt Durham, VP for Market Development and Phani Pandrangi, Director of Product Management (BPM).
It is just over one year (July 2007) since Software AG and webMethods announced their merger, the objective of which according to Ivo Totev, Chief Marketing Officer of Software AG was, “to create the world’s largest independent provider of Business Infrastructure Software.” So what has happened in the last year in terms of the combined company’s BPMS strategy?
The strategy outlined in 2007 for BPMS was based around the webMethods BPMS product suite, with webMethods BPMS becoming the brand name. Durham explained that Software AG saw BPMS as software that needed a combination of capabilities. He talked about what he termed the “3 Big Chunks”; namely process management that spanned from process modelling to runtime execution, application development that was codeless and rapid as well as exploiting Web 2.0 standards, and lastly real-time business process monitoring that provides process analytics. Customers include:, TD Banknorth, Cox Communications and Fonterra.
webMethods BPMS consists of the following components:
- Designer: an Eclipse-based development platform that supports process modelling, debugging, simulation, process development, form building and composite application development.
- Fair Isaac Blaze: Business rules development and runtime engine. This has been seamlessly integrated into the product set.
- Library Server: this is a semantic metadata library that is used to capture and store metadata about assets that are developed, thus supporting reuse and dependency analysis of business objects.
- Integration Server: the runtime process engine and system integration environment.
- My webMethods Server: the composite application runtime environment that is AJAX-enabled supporting JSR and WSRP standards.
- Optimize: the business activity monitoring (BAM) capability . It is also available separately and being applied to other areas (a customised version for SAP is already available).
Figure 1: webMethods BPMS Architecture (Source: Software AG)
When I asked Software AG to explain what their differentials to their competitors were, Pandrangi stated that they saw them as:
- “Measure First Option”: this is geared at helping organisations get started by allowing them to analyze the current process (as opposed to modelling) prior to doing significant amounts of orchestration and then use Optimize to identify where the issues are. From a user perspective this is a great way to get started, and Software AG have the toolset to support this concept.
- “There is only one centric—process centric”: the claim is that webMethods BPM provides a single platform to support any type of business process. This claim is well supported with the support for workflow, simple and complex routing, plus the suites support for document management as well as integration and SOA.
- Support for multiple stakeholders: here the claim is for the suite to be able to be used by all personnel in an organization involved in a business process from Business Executive and Process Worker through Business Analyst to IT Developer. The support for this claim can be seen in the support of a single process model for all users based on the BPMN standard and the big plus the semantic metadata repository.
- “Share Control, Don’t Lose Control”: this is all about getting the right balance between giving control of the business processes to the business users who use them, whilst maintaining IT’s need to control the implementation on the physical environment. Once again the support of a single process model is used to support this claim alongside the use of the meta-model repository to control and share assets, as well as its importance in the implementation of governance.
- “Leverage, Integrate, and Innovate”: this claim is about the position of Software AG as a company supplying integration and SOA software. Software AG has 4000 customers.
Bloor sees that the claims made by Software AG can be supported. Of course, some of these are subject to the usual rider of being in the eye of the beholder. The key to Software AG’s BPM strategy is the ability to work with other parts of the product suite to provide not only support for BPM but also SOA and Governance.