SAPPHIRE: Wolfgang Hilpert on BPM Overview

I’m picking and choosing my sessions carefully, in part because I have some prearranged meetings specifically about BPM. Here with all my Enterprise Irregulars blogging compatriots (many of whom I’m meeting in person for the first time), we all were given a personalized schedule of meetings tuned to our particular area of interest — very well organized, and still leaving some time in the schedule for me to go to some additional sessions.

I had a one-on-one meeting with Wolfgang Hilpert, SVP of NetWeaver BPM, this afternoon; funnily enough, just after I attended Ginger Gatling’s session this morning, I had lunch in the press area, and when I mentioned that I’d seen the session on the new SAP BPM, three pairs of ears at the table swiveled around. These three, who I didn’t know (nametags, unfortunately, hang below the level of the table when seated), gave me a light grilling on my opinions of what I had seen; although I figured that they worked for SAP, it wasn’t until they stood up that I saw Hilpert’s name tag.

By the time that we had our meeting, then, he knew that I’d seen a product overview, and he’d already heard my views on it, so we could jump right to some of the good stuff. As I suspected, and wrote in my earlier post, they’re not looking to compete in the general BPMS market for non-SAP customers, but see themselves as becoming the BPM tool of choice for SAP customers. More than just an appendage to SAP, their BPM will allow for orchestration of web services within heterogeneous environments (as do all other BPMS), plus provide the services repository and UDDI registry. He also sees them as eventually being able to identify SAP business objects directly as part of the orchestration, allowing for easy passing of the object from one step to another; another tight coupling with SAP applications that will win them an advantage. Their long history with enterprise software likely does give them a unique insight into how enterprises work, and they have innovations such as user role abstractions on a business level through interaction with other enterprise systems that contain role information, not just LDAP directories.

They built the BPM part of the product themselves after surveying the market and not finding what they wanted at the right price (I asked if Lombardi was too expensive but didn’t get much of a reply 🙂 ), then bought in the rules through the Yasu acquisition. The business rules can still be used as a standalone rules/decisioning engine, but they’re also tightly integrating it with the Eclipse process modeling environment for integrated lifecycle management of processes and rules. They also perceive their product as being more scalable, but frankly, every vendor says that to me so I’d like to see some benchmark data on that.

The composition environment is currently in closed beta, will open up to a few more beta sites over the summer, then be released in September. Because of the extensive beta period, they’re hoping to shortcut the usual ramp-up process and have this generally available shortly after that.

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