Innovation World: Peter Kürpick

Dr. Peter Kürpick, Chief Product Officer, was up next to give us more of the technology strategy and vision. He covered some generic views of ESB, BPM and BAM and how they fit together, then showed the roadmap for the webMethods suite with respect to their releases throughout 2008: building the functionality, then adding performance, stability and other non-functional considerations.

They really like to show the recent Forrester wave report that puts them in the lead, but he neglects to point out that this is for integration-centric BPM; they don’t fare nearly as well in the other BPM waves that cover human-centric (where they’re just barely in the leader category) and document-centric (where they’re not even in the running). That comes through in the Gartner magic quadrant, which combines all BPM vendors and puts them fairly low in the leader quadrant. That being said, they are still in the leader category with both major analysts, which is definitely a good place to be.

He also talked briefly about CentraSite Active SOA, their SOA governance platform that builds on the multi-vendor CentraSite platform.

Kürpick fielded questions about open source and cloud computing, and brushed them both off as being not relevant to what Software AG is doing: they’re not seeing open source ESB vendors as competition in their large strategic accounts, and they see cloud computing as something for applications, not middleware. Miko Matsumura stepped in to give a bit of support for the vision of providing services to the cloud from a Software AG platform, but it’s not much of a story yet. They will be releasing an AppExchange connector for integrating Salesforce.com with their ESB, and therefore with other internal applications; they are themselves a Salesforce customer so that’s coming first, but it does sound like they want to do more connectors to common SaaS applications. Streibich was back up to enforce that they are strictly a middleware vendor (a description that fits as long as you can accept BAM and BPM as middleware), targeting large customer organizations. Interestingly, Kürpick described the use of BPM in some of their customer organizations as effectively a graphical software development environment, as the developers move off the ADABAS/Natural platforms; I’m seeing this use of a BPMS as one of the big philosophical dividing lines in BPM today as we struggle with whether it’s a development tool or a business modeling tool.

This was pretty light on content about the products themselves for a technology strategy session, and I’m hoping to hear a lot more detail over the next day. The Q&A was definitely the best part of the afternoon, as you would expect with a room full of very keen analysts and journalists.

I have to admit that something nice about conferences run by German companies (I’ve noticed this at SAP and IDS Scheer conferences, too) is that they start and finish each session on time. The only exception was Bruce Sterling, who caricatured American business style by actually showing up late for his own session this morning.

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