BEA snaps up Fuego

BEA bought Fuego today, which starts to bring home the predictions about consolidation in the BPM marketplace. Press release here on ebizQ or here on the BEA site, which includes the usual hyperbole from the CEO:

We are now the only company to offer a unified SOA-based platform to integrate business processes, applications, and legacy environments.

There might be a few of BEA and Fuego’s competitors that disagree with the “only” qualifier, although this marriage of ESB, BPM and other integration technologies does provide good coverage of the space, reminiscent of the Staffware acquisition by TIBCO a few years back. Fuego will form the foundation of BEA’s new AquaLogic Business Service Integration product line, and give BEA a much better story for talking to business executives, instead of just chatting with the IT guys like they’ve been doing in the past.

This is the second key acquisition for BEA in the past year, following their acquistion of Plumtree last summer. They’re definitely building out their integration capabilities, and doing so by including products that are fairly platform-agnostic for the widest appeal. The real test will be to see how tightly this stuff is integrated a year from now: it’s not enough to just slap a BEA label on Fuego software, there needs to be technical infrastructure reasons and goals for making an acquisition like this.

One interesting thing that I noticed from the press release and the conference call is the strong link made between BPM and SOA (something that I’ve been writing about for some time). On the conference call, Mark Carges from BEA refers to BPM as “the fastest growing segment of SOA”.

You can hear a replay of the 20-minute announcement conference call at mshow using the show number 292109.

Investing in BPM webinar

Understand that first of all, I think that Bruce Silver is a very smart guy, and don’t take it the wrong way when I say that he is a less-than-scintillating speaker. He was featured on Appian‘s Investing in BPM webinar today, and his talk turned out to be just a slight expansion of his Intelligent Enterprise article that I discussed earlier; it wasn’t exactly edge-of-the-seat stuff. Maybe he should spend less of his time reading from a script, and more just talking about this subject matter that he knows so well. And although he was giving a beginner’s guide to BPM, I have a bit of a problem with him starting out his talk with “I want to talk to you about a new kind of software, business process management…” New kind of software? Not.

After the requisite 20 minutes of “independent content” that the vendors use to hook you into attending their webinars, Appian’s Director of Product Management, Phil Larson, stepped in and talked more about BPM in general and about their product. He was interesting enough to keep me on the line for the remainder of the webinar, and he had good illustrations of some of the concepts, including the prettiest diagram that I’ve seen to show how BPM and SOA fit together. Not the most complete, but sometimes you just need a pretty version to make your point.

Larson quoted from the recent Forrester report — “[Appian] has the widest breadth of functionality among the suites we evaluated” — although he didn’t mention the bit that came later in the same paragraph of the report: “However, breadth comes at the expense of depth in features like simulation and system-to-system integration“. He showed a snap of their BPMN implementation, which gets good marks off the bat for having the swimlanes running in the right direction.

I’m not sure if Appian will have the webinar available for replay later, although it’s not really worth it unless you’re a true beginner. I think that you can get most of the information from Silver’s portion of the talk from the earlier-reference Intelligent Enterprise article, and most of the Appian information from their web site.

Retro look at the impact of SOA

I recently discovered some notes that I had made back in November 2004 from a TIBCO webinar “Enabling Real-time Business with a Service-Oriented and Event-Driven Architecture”. Randy Heffner from Forrester spoke at that webinar, and I remember that it was his words that made me realize what an impact that SOA was going to have, and how strategic SOA requires a focus on enterprise architecture, particularly the application architecture and technical architecture layers, so that business and IT metrics can be tied back to defined services.

Although it seems obvious now, that webinar really crystallized the idea of services as being process steps to be orchestrated, and how this allowed you to focus on an end-to-end process across all stakeholders, not just what happens inside your organization: the Holy Grail of BPM, as it were. EA often does not include business architecture, but services force it to consider the business process architecture and business strategy/organization.

Circular quotes on BPM and SOA

All of a sudden, there’s a lot of noise around enterprise mashups. Dennis Howlett posts about BPM and SOA, quoting a post by Jeff Clavier on the same topic. Dennis’ post also quotes a post by David Berlind which is actually a quote by me from an earlier quote that David quoted, and Jeff quotes David’s post that refers to me, so it all seems to come around in a circle to my earlier post on mashups and corporate SOA. Sometimes blogging is a bit like the telephone game.

Equally interesting is Jeff’s post about a TiE SIG Software event next week on Web 2.0 in the enterprise. I would SOOOO like to be there; if I had know about this earlier, I might have left for Mashup Camp a few days early.

What it comes down to is that Web 2.0 is, or will be, all about integration. David Linthicum posts about becoming a web service provider (without yammering on about how they had another outage in the past week, as everyone else has been doing, ignoring the fact that outages occur all the time inside corporate IT but you just don’t hear about it) and links to Phil Wainewright’s interview with the CEO, who has the grace to admit that he didn’t visualize the integration potential back when it all started.

Killing me softly…with SOA

Joe McKendrick posted last week about whether open source or SOA is killing the software industry faster, right on the heels of a couple of articles in eWeek about how E-Trade is switching to open source (E-Trade’s not just implementing Linux, which would hardly raise an eyebrow these days, but also components higher up in the stack, such as web server, application server and transaction management software).

From the point of view of the software industry, these are both disruptive technologies that fundamentally change the way that business is done. Funny, after all these years of introducing disruptive technologies to other businesses that resulted in some pretty major upheavals, software companies are getting it back in spades.

As for SOA and other technologies that make software development faster and easier, I say “bring it on”. I have little tolerance for systems integrators (or the professional services arm of software vendors) that won’t use newer, better technology when it makes them less money, although there are a few of them that seem to get it.

Mashups and the corporate SOA

I listened to a podcast last week of David Linthicum interviewing Dion Hinchcliffe that really helped to coalesce my thoughts about mashups, Web 2.0, SOA, composite applications and the future of integration. I was walking along a street in downtown Toronto, listening to it on my iPod, and making enough facial expressions, hand gestures and remarks aloud that I was likely written off as one of the usual crazies: it’s very exciting when someone with very similar ideas to your own states them much more clearly than you could have said it yourself.

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about mashups and the implications for enterprise integration, which of the integration vendors is likely to jump on this bandwagon early, and noted that I’ll be at Mashup Camp later this month because I really want to explore the convergence of mashups and enterprise integration. Unbeknownst to me, Dion Hinchcliffe had published an article in the SOA Web Services journal in late December entitled Web 2.0: The Global SOA, which was the focus of the podcast, and blogged about the 100’s of services available on the “giant service ecosystem” that is the web:

An important reason why the Web is now the world’s biggest and most important computing platform is that people providing software over the Internet are starting to understand the law of unintended uses. Great web sites no longer limit themselves to just the user interface they provide. They also open up their functionality and data to anyone who wants to use their services as their own. This allows people to reuse, and re-reuse a thousand times over, another service’s functionality in their own software for whatever reasons they want, in ways that couldn’t be predicted. The future of software is going to be combining the services in the global service landscape into new, innovative applications. Writing software from scratch will continue to go away because it’s just too easy to wire things together now.

The information on this is now starting to explode: David Berlind (organizer of Mashup Camp) discusses the bazaar-like quality of the mashup ecosystem, Stephen O’Grady pushes the concept of SOA to include mashups, and even Baseline Magazine is talking about how mashups can free you from the tyranny of software vendors with a discussion about how some of the services feeding mashups could be used in an enterprise integration context.

All of this has huge implications for business processes, and the type of BPM that currently resides completely inside an organization. Most BPM vendors have enabled their products to be consumers of web services in order to more easily play an orchestration role, and some customers are even starting to take advantage of this by invoking web services that integrate other internal systems as steps in a business process (although a lot are still, unfortunately, stuck in earlier, more primitive generations of integration techniques). Imagine the next step: as corporate IT departments get over their “not invented here” fears, the BPM tools allow them to integrate not just internal web services, but external services that are part of the Web 2.0 mashup ecosystem. Use a service to do a customer credit check as part of processing their insurance application. Integrate Google Maps or Yahoo maps to determine driving directions from your service dispatch location to your customer’s location in order to create service call sheets. It’s like software-as-a-service, but truly on a per-service rather than per-application basis, allowing you to pick and choose what functions/services that you want to invoke from any particular step in your business process.

Dion Hinchcliffe thinks that 80% of enterprise applications could be provided by external services, which is a great equalizer for smaller businesses that don’t have huge IT budgets, and could almost completely disconnect the issue of business agility from the size of your development team. I think that it’s time for some hard introspection about what business that you’re really in: if your organization is in the business of selling financial services, what are you doing writing software from scratch when you could be wiring it together using BPM and the global SOA that’s out there?

Update: David swamped his podcast provider and ended up moving the podcast here. Reference also updated above.

SOAinstitute launched, a free BPM informational site, has just launced If you’re already a member, you just need to login and add it to your profile. There’s quite a bit of content there already, likely moved over from the site, and it has the identical format to (e.g., webinars are listed as “round tables”).

Integration FUD factor

A good article in DMReview (where normally I find much more about data warehousing and business intelligence than integration) on Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt about integration, especially for small-to-medium sized businesses that don’t have IT budgets that look like the GDP of a small Pacific nation. I just love it when someone cuts through all the crap:

Integration is moving data elements from point A to point B with the necessary translation in between…Tier-one integration vendors have conditioned the market to believe that integration should cost millions of dollars and take years to implement. With today’s offerings, this is simply no longer the case.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Who will mash?

Further to my post about enterprise mashup yesterday, I’ve been thinking about who in the BPM space will jump on the enterprise mashup bandwagon first.

In my Making BPM Mean Business course, I discuss the history of BPM, and I’ve noticed that BPM vendors who started on the workflow side of the house typically expand their capabilities through OEM agreements and partnerships (the “United Nations” approach), whereas those who started on the EAI side typically expand by building functionality in-house or buying a small company outright and submerging it into their product (the “world domination” approach). That could be because the pretty UI stuff that is usually developed for the human-facing workflow functionality is perceived as the “personality” of the BPM product, and everyone needs to author their own personality, or at least be perceived as being its author. (Okay, for a comment about technology, that’s pretty philosophical.) There’s lots of exceptions to this, but I find that’s true in many cases.

Does that mean that the BPM vendors with a workflow heritage are more likely to embrace the mashup concepts than their descended-from-EAI competitors? While the old guard thinks it over, the “nouveau BPM” vendors (who are built on web services from the ground up) are probably already demoing the integration of Yahoo Maps with back-office transaction processing, and rewriting their marketing materials to include the word “mashup”.

By the way, I signed up for MashupCamp, so if you’re headed there in February, look me up.