BPM Think Tank: On-Demand BPM Vendor Panel

George Barlow of Appian, Jim Rudden of Lombardi, Bino Jos of Intalio and Derek Miers of BPM Focus discussed the intersection of BPM and SaaS. Appian has Appian Anywhere and Lombardi has Blueprint, Derek has opinions about everything, but I’m not sure why a process expert from Intalio (who appears to have little understanding of where they fit from a SaaS standpoint, which is more a matter of being able to use cloud-based servers such as EC2 rather than a multi-tenanted hosted offering, and talked about everything except SaaS) ended up on this panel.

Paul Vincent of TIBCO popped up with a question about whether everyone would soon be doing BPM in the cloud; the panel responded that that’s not really the target, but rather to lower the entry costs for SMBs or departments within larger enterprises, or to provide some of the inter-enterprise collaborative functionality.

There was a discussion about the need for standards in a SaaS offering (I think triggered by Fred Cummins); BPMN is seen as important, although that’s really independent of on-demand versus on-premise.

BPM is perceived as being good in a down market, when companies are trying to cut headcount and become more efficient; SaaS is also good in a down market since there’s little or no capital outlay. In some cases, where the full BPMS is available both on-demand and on-premise (as with Appian), SaaS is the gateway drug to on-premise licensing.

George and Jim are the big contributors here: first of all, they’re both pretty smart guys, they have some major points of disagreement to liven up the conversation, and they’re the only two on the panel who actually have on-demand BPM services.

As always, it’s difficult to blog about a panel since it’s a bit disjointed, plus I had to do a wrapup of my roundtable sessions immediately following and had to comb through my notes with one brain while listening to the panel with the other. Oh, wait, maybe that’s the problem…

9 thoughts on “BPM Think Tank: On-Demand BPM Vendor Panel

  1. Sandy,

    Just for clarification, Intalio’s current on-demand deployment on Amazon EC2 is multi-tenant in the sense that multiple customers can be deployed on the same physical machine, while using separate virtualized OS instances. This is not only the most secure deployment option we know of, but also the one that provides the most flexibility in terms of customization.

    Furthermore, you might be interested to take a look at the upcoming Intalio On Demand Edition that was announced in Japan yesterday:

    http://itredux.com/2008/10/05/intalio-business-process-platform/

    Best regards
    -Ismael

  2. Please use this one instead of the comment I posted before which had some errors!

    Sandy,

    I didnt think this was about crowing about our SaaS success from the rooftops! Anyway, this is what Intalio has done in the SaaS space.

    1. Intalio|On Demand provides a hosted service for customers to execute process. The processes can be modeled in BPMN using Intalio|Designer than with a few clicks turned into executable BPEL that runs on our Amazon hosted server.

    2. We run the process execution behind Coghead. Coghead provides developers with a web interface for building applications on demand. They have tens of thousands of processes defined. They use Intalio as the BPEL engine to coordinate those processes.

    3. We are working with other companies (under NDA) to provide Business Process Outsourcing. These companies would host Intalio in the cloud and have their process experts work with their customers to define the process. The company would then develop and maintain the process for the customer where the customer would connect various enterprise applications with the process living in the cloud.

    Hope this is lends some clarity to our prowess in the SaaS space.

  3. I think that BPM on demand is an interesting feature that is now offered by companies like italio and appian. I do feel, however, that the demand for SaaS is so low that it really isn’t worth it for companies to concentrate on it. If a business is going to spend the money on BPM implementation then why not host the servers in house? I found some interesting literature about SaaS online and was taken back by the emphasis, while the demand for these services is less than 5%. My corporation has implemented the Enterprise Process Center and we have seen great improvements in our Business Process Management. I suggest taking a look! (they do offer SaaS, might be useful!) They offer a free BPMN modeler that works as a plug-in with Microsoft Visio, very useful!

  4. I agree there are some advantages to separate virtualized OS instances. Nevertheless, there are several other deployment options that can provide a higher level of flexibility in terms of customization- even per instance. Also- there is a significant difference between “real” multi-tenancy and separate installations on virtual machines.

  5. Thanks Sandy.
    I agree, multi-tenancy is indeed different than virtualization. I would go even further to say that locating an app-server on the Web rather than onsite or in a data-center does not automatically turns an app into SaaS. In my opinion, the optimal type of multi-tenancy is a function of the application it serves. For example- a CRM application that offers a similar vanilla offering to all customers would do well with a model in which one instance of the app serves all customers, on a single shared database. On the other hand, when it comes to world of ERP or BPM, the level of customer communality can be significantly lower, hence making the realization of multi-tenancy more challenging. Furthermore- as several customizations are often required, current architecture of ERP makes it rather challenging to implement changes only via metadata or user-fields, hence forming a potential limit future upgrades and updates.
    To conclude- vendors can achieve significant advantages from multi-tenancy- if smartly deployed. As to end customers- this factor needs to be seamless, except for the cost that needs to be significantly reduced – in particular after the formation of current SaaS infrastructures. All the best, Avi.

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