More BPM Acquisitions: Progress Buys Savvion

BPM acquisitions must be in the air: today, Progress Software announced that they’ve bought Savvion for $49M. This is hot on the heels of IBM’s announcement last month that they’re buying Lombardi, with one huge difference being that Progress doesn’t already have a BPM product in their lineup, whereas IBM has two. Of the three mid-range BPMS-only vendors that I would most commonly name – Appian, Lombardi and Savvion – that’s two out of the three announcing acquisition in less than a month. With the economy just starting to pull out of a huge pit, that’s telling news: as I mentioned in my post about Lombardi, if the economic climate were different, these would be IPOs that we’d be seeing rather than acquisitions. These acquisitions by larger companies, however, changes the BPM market landscape pretty significantly, since this makes it significantly easier for Lombardi and Savvion (under the IBM and Progress banners, respectively) to get a foot in the door of larger customers who rely on their major vendors to bring them enterprise solutions, rather than considering a smaller company. One advantage that Progress/Savvion have at this point in time is that the acquisition is actually closing today (or later this week), whereas IBM/Lombardi went the pre-acquisition announcement route, and will endure several months of limbo before the deal closes. [Update: I’ve received a few tweets and emails indicating that the IBM/Lombardi close will happen very soon, possibly around February 1st, although I haven’t heard a final date. My “several months” was based on past experience.]

I had an early morning call with Dr. John Bates (CTO of Progress) and Dr. Ketabchi (CEO of Savvion), but a few people obviously had earlier time slots: Neil Ward-Dutton has already posted his initial thoughts, as has Jason Stamper. I agree with Neil that this is a smart move for Progress: a good fit of products with minimal overlap, directly addressing some of the challenges that they’re hearing from their customers in terms of achieving operational responsiveness. The existing suite of Progress products allows for determining what happened within an organization – a rear-view mirror approach – but not much that allows the organization to quickly change how they’re doing things in order to drive efficiency or respond to changing conditions. Bringing BPM into the fold allows them to change that, primarily through tying Progress’ Apama CEP with Savvion BPM, but also by leveraging the rest of the Progress SOA and ESB infrastructure, including data and application integration.

Savvion’s had a couple of internal shakeups in the past two years: in early 2008, Savvion axed contractors, most of their marketing department and some salespeople, ostensibly in order to shift towards a solution focus, although at the time I said that they could be positioning themselves for acquisition. They’ve had a strong push on their vertical solutions since that time, wherein they develop frameworks for vertical applications, then allow partners – or even customers – to built vertical solutions on those common frameworks.

Like many BPM vendors, Savvion has often sold to the technology side of organizations but have shifted focus to the business side recently. Progress is still a very technology-focused set of tools, so it will be interesting to see how well they can bring together the different marketing messages. In my conversation with him this morning, John Bates said that they’re moving towards more of a solutions-oriented approach rather than product-oriented: although this is an easier sell to the business side, it can be used to mask a number of disparate products being clumped together without much natural cohesion (cf. “IBM BPM”).

There will need to be some product integration points to be able to really sell this as an integrated suite of tools rather than a “solution” patched together with professional services. First, they need to bring together a common process modeling environment. Ditto for an event/process monitoring environment. Third, they need to consider the touchpoints within application development: although data integration and application integration will be designed using the existing Progress products, these have to be seamlessly integrated into Savvion’s process application development environment. There are likely also areas of integration at the engine level, too, but getting the developer and analyst-facing tools integrated first is key to acceptance, and therefore sales, of an integrated solution.

Another consideration will be a software-as-a-service offering: Savvion already has inroads in this with their BPO market, although they haven’t yet announced any consumer-facing SaaS products. Bates stated that Progress considers SaaS “an important paradigm”, which I would translate as “we know that we have to do it, but aren’t there yet”. Pushing BPM and CEP to mid-range and smaller companies is going to require a strong SaaS offering, as well as providing a platform for larger enterprises to use for piloting and testing.

Because the acquisition has already closed, or is closing within the next day or two, Progress and Savvion sales and partner channels are already being brought together; the same will happen soon for marketing teams. As always happens in this case, there will be some losses, but given the small degree of overlap in product functionality, they’ll probably need most of the skills from both sides to make this work. Dr. K. has stated that he’ll stay with Progress, although his role hasn’t been announced.

The BPM+CEP equation is becoming increasingly important as organizations focus on operational responsiveness, and I think that it’s particularly significant that Progress appointed Bates – formerly co-founder and CTO of Apama before their acquisition by Progress – to the CTO position during the time when they must have been negotiating to acquire Savvion. Clearly, Progress sees BPM+CEP as an important mix, too.


Disclosure: Savvion has been my client within the past year, for creating a webinar and internal strategy reports, although we have no active projects at this time.

Innovation World: ChoicePoint external customers solutions with BPM, BAM and ESB

I took some time out from sessions this afternoon to meet with Software AG’s deputy CTOs, Bjoern Brauel and Miko Matsumura, but I’m back for the last session of the day with Cory Kirspel, VP of identity risk management at ChoicePoint (a LexisNexis company), on how they have created externally-facing solutions using BPM, BAM and ESB. ChoicePoint screens and authenticates people for employment screening, insurance services and other identity-related purposes, plus does court document retrieval. There’s a fine line to walk here: companies need to protect the privacy of individuals while minimizing identify fraud.

Even though they only really do two things — credential and investigate people and businesses — they had 43+ separate applications on 12 platforms with various technologies in order to do this. Not only did that make it hard to do what they needed internally, customers were also wanting to integrate ChoicePoint’s systems directly into their own with an implementation time of only 3-4 months, and provide visibility into the processes.

They were already a Software AG customer with the legacy modernization products, so took a look at their BPM, BAM and ESB. The result is that they had better visibility, and could leverage the tools to build solutions much faster since they weren’t building everything from the ground up. He walked us through some of the application screens that they developed for use in their customers’ call centers: allow a CSR to enter some data about a caller, select a matching identity by address, verify the identity (e.g., does the SSN match the name), authenticate the caller with questions that only they could answer, then provide a pass/fall result. The overall flow and the parameters of every screen can be controlled by the customer organization, and the whole flow is driven by a process model in the BPMS which allows them to assign and track KPIs on each step in the process.

They’re also moving their own executives from the old way of keeping an eye on business — looking at historical reports — to the new way with near real-time dashboards. As well as having visibility into transaction volumes, they are also able to detect unusual situations that might indicate fraud or other situations of increased risk, and alert their customers. They found that BAM and BI were misunderstood, poorly managed and under-leveraged; these technologies could be used on legacy systems to start getting benefits even before BPM was added into the mix.

All of this allowed them to reduce the cost of ownership, which protects them in a business that competes on price, as well as offering a level of innovation and integration with their customers’ systems that their competitors are unable to achieve.

They used Software AG’s professional services, and paired each external person with an internal one in order to achieve knowledge transfer.

Oracle BEA Strategy Briefing

Not only did Oracle schedule this briefing on Canada Day, the biggest holiday in Canada, but they forced me to download the Real Player plug-in in order to participate. The good part, however, is that it was full streaming audio and video alongside the slides.

Charles Phillips, Oracle President, kicked off with a welcome and some background on Oracle, including their focus on database, middleware and applications, and how middleware is the fastest-growing of these three product pillars. He described how Oracle Fusion middleware is used both by their own applications as well as ISVs and customers implementing their own SOA initiatives.

He outlined their rationale for acquiring BEA: complementary products and architecture, internal expertise, strategic markets such as Asia, and the partner and channel ecosystem. He stated that they will continue to support BEA products under the existing support lifetimes, with no forced migration policies to move off of BEA platforms. They now consider themselves #1 in the middleware market in terms of both size and technology leadership, and Phillips gave a gentle slam to IBM for over-inflating their middleware market size by including everything but the kitchen sink in what they consider to be middleware.

The BEA developer and architect online communities will be merged into the Oracle Technology Network: Dev2Dev will be merged into the Oracle Java Developer community, and Arch2Arch will be broadened to the Oracle community.

Retaining all the BEA development centers, they now have 4,500 middleware developers; most BEA sales, consulting and support staff were also retained and integrated into the the Fusion middleware teams.

Next up was Thomas Kurian, SVP of Product Development for Fusion Middleware and BEA product directions, with a more detailed view of the Oracle middleware products and strategy. Their basic philosophy for middleware is that it’s a unified suite rather than a collection of disjoint products, it’s modular from a purchasing and deployment standpoint, and it’s standards-based and open. He started to talk about applications enabled by their products, unifying SOA, process management, business intelligence, content management and Enterprise 2.0.

They’ve categorized middleware products into 3 categories on their product roadmap (which I have reproduced here directly from Kurian’s slide:

  • Strategic products
    • BEA products being adopted immediately with limited re-design into Oracle Fusion middleware
    • No corresponding Oracle products exist in majority of cases
    • Corresponding Oracle products converge with BEA products with rapid integration over 12-18 months
  • Continue and converge products
    • BEA products being incrementally re-designed to integrate with Oracle Fusion middleware
    • Gradual integration with existing Oracle Fusion middleware technology to broaden features with automated upgrades
    • Continue development and maintenance for at least 9 years
  • Maintenance products
    • BEA had end-of-life’d due to limited adoption prior to Oracle M&A
    • Continued maintenance with appropriate fixes for 5 years

For the “continue and converge” category, that is, of course, a bit different than “no forced migration”, but this is to be expected. My issue is with the overlap between the “strategic” category, which can include a convergence of an Oracle and a BEA product, and the “continue and converge” category, which includes products that will be converged into another product: when is a converged product considered “strategic” rather than “continue and converge”, or is this just the spin they’re putting on things so as to not freak out BEA customers who have put huge investments into a BEA product that is going to be converged into an existing Oracle product?

He went on to discuss how each individual Oracle and BEA product would be handled under this categorization. I’ve skipped the parts on development tools, transaction processing, identity management, systems management and service delivery, and gone right to their plans for the Service-Oriented Architecture products:

Oracle SOA product strategy

  • Strategic:
    • Oracle Data Integrator for data integration and batch ETL
    • Oracle Service Bus, which unifies AquaLogic Service Bus and Oracle Enterprise Service Bus
    • Oracle BPEL Process Manager for service orchestration and composite application infrastructure
    • Oracle Complex Event Processor for in-memory event computation, integrated with WebLogic Event Server
    • Oracle Business Activity Monitoring for dashboards to monitor business events and business process KPIs
  • Continue and converge:
    • BEA WL-Integration will be converged with the Oracle BPEL Process Manager
  • Maintenance:
    • BEA Cyclone
    • BEA RFID Server

Note that the Oracle Service Bus is in the “strategic” category, but is a convergence of AL-SB and Oracle ESB, which means that customers of one of those two products (or maybe both) are not going to be happy.

Kurian stated that Oracle sees four types of business processes — system-centric, human-centric, document-centric and decision-centric (which match the Forrester divisions) — but believes that a single product/engine that can handle all of these is the way to go, since few processes fall purely into one of these four categories. They support BPEL for service orchestration and BPMN for modeling, and their plan is to converge a single platform that supports both BPEL and BPMN (I assume that he means both service orchestration and human-facing workflow). Given that, here’s their strategy for Business Process Management products:

Oracle BPM product strategy

  • Strategic:
    • Oracle BPA Designer for process modeling and simulation
    • BEA AL-BPM Designer for iterative process modeling
    • Oracle BPM, which will be the convergence of BEA AquaLogic BPM and Oracle BPEL Process Manager in a single runtime engine
    • Oracle Document Capture & Imaging for document capture, imaging and document workflow with ERP integration [emphasis mine]
    • Oracle Business Rules as a declarative rules engine
    • Oracle Business Activity Monitoring [same as in SOA section]
    • Oracle WebCenter as a process portal interface to visualize composite processes

Similar to the ESB categorization, I find the classification of the converged Oracle BPM product (BEA AL-BPM and Oracle BPEL PM) as “strategic” to be at odds with his original definition: it should be in the “continue & converge” category since the products are being converged. This convergence is not, however, unexpected: having two separate BPM platforms would just be asking for trouble. In fact, I would say that having two process modelers is also a recipe for trouble: they should look at how to converge the Oracle BPA Designer and the BEA AL-BPM Designer

In the portals and Enterprise 2.0 product area, Kurian was a bit more up-front about how WebLogic Portal and AquaLogic UI are going to be merged into the corresponding Oracle products:

Oracle portal and Enterprise 2.0 product strategy

  • Strategic:
    • Oracle Universal Content Management for content management repository, security, publishing, imaging, records and archival
    • Oracle WebCenter Framework for portal development and Enterprise 2.0 services
    • Oracle WebCenter Spaces & Suite as a packaged self-service portal environment with social computing services
    • BEA Ensemble for lightweight REST-based portal assembly
    • BEA Pathways for social interaction analytics
  • Continue and converge:
    • BEA WebLogic Portal will be integrated into the WebCenter framework
    • BEA AquaLogic User Interaction (AL-UI) will be integrated into WebCenter Spaces & Suite
  • Maintenance:
    • BEA Commerce Services
    • BEA Collabra

In SOA governance:

  • Strategic:
    • BEA AquaLogic Enterprise Repository to capture, share and manage the change of SOA artifacts throughout their lifecycle
    • Oracle Service Registry for UDDI
    • Oracle Web Services Manager for security and QOS policy management on services
    • EM Service Level Management Pack as a management console for service level response time and availability
    • EM SOA Management Pack as a management console for monitoring, tracing and change managing SOA
  • Maintenance:
    • BEA AquaLogic Services Manager

Kurian discussed the implications of this product strategy on Oracle Applications customers: much of this will be transparent to Oracle Applications, since many of these products form the framework on which the applications are built, but are isolated so that customizations don’t touch them. For those changes that will impact the applications, they’ll be introduced gradually. Of course, some Oracle Apps are already certified with BEA products that are now designated as strategic Oracle products.

Oracle has also simplified their middleware pricing and packaging, with products structured into 12 suites:

Oracle Middleware Suites

He summed up with their key messages:

  • They have a clear, well-defined, integrated product strategy
  • They are protecting and enhancing existing customer investments
  • They are broadening Oracle and BEA investment in middleware
  • There is a broad range of choice for customer

The entire briefing will be available soon for replay on Oracle’s website if you’re interested in seeing the full hour and 45 minutes. There’s more information about the middleware products here, and you can sign up to attend an Oracle BEA welcome event in your city.

TUCON: Merck’s SAP Integration Strategy

Daniel Freed of Merck discussed their SAP implementation, and how their integration strategy uses TIBCO to integrate with non-SAP systems. As with Connie Moore’s presentation this morning, the room was packed (I’m sitting on the floor and others standing around the perimeter of the room), and I have to believe that TIBCO completely underestimated attendees’ interest in BPM since we’re in a room that is half the size (or less) that for some of the other streams. Of course, this presentation is really about application integration rather than BPM…

They have four main integration scenarios:

  • Master data replication (since each system expects to maintain its own data, but SAP is typically the true master data source), both event-driven publish-subscribe and batch point-to-point.
  • Cross-system business process, using event-driven publish-subscribe and event-driven point-to-point.
  • Analytical extraction/consolidation with batch point-to-point from operational systems to the data warehouse.
  • Business to business, with event-driven point-to-point as well as event-driven publish-subscribe and batch point-to-point.

They have some basic principles for integration:

  • Architect for loosely coupled connectivity, in order to increase flexibility and improve BPM; the key implication is that they needed to move from point-to point integrations to hub-and-spoke architecture, publish from the source to all targets rather than chaining from one system to another, and use canonical data models.
  • Leverage industry standards and best practices
  • Build and use shared services
  • Architect for "real-time business" first
  • Proactively engage the business in considering new opportunities enabled by new integration capabilities
  • Architect to insulate Merck from external complexity
  • Design for end-to-end monitoring
  • Leverage integration technology to minimize application remediation (i.e., changes to SAP) required to support integration requirements

SAP, of course, isn’t just one monolithic system: Merck is using multiple SAP components (ECC, GTS, SCM, etc.) that have out-of-the-box integration provided by SAP through Process Integrator (PI), and Merck doesn’t plan to switch out PI for TIBCO. Instead, PI bridges to TIBCO’s bus, then all other applications (CRM, payroll, etc.) connect to TIBCO.

Gowri Chelliah of HCL (the TIBCO partner involved in the project) then discussed some of the common services that they developed for the Merck project, including auditing, error handling, cross-referencing, monitoring, and B2B services. He covered the error handling, monitoring, cross-reference and B2B services in more detail, showing the specific components, adapters and technologies used for each.

Freed came back up to discuss their key success factors:

  • Organizational
    • Creation of shared services
    • Leverage global sourcing model
  • Strategy
    • Integration strategy updated for SAP
    • Buy-in from business on integration strategy
  • Program management
    • High visibility into the development process
  • Process
    • Comprehensive on-boarding process for quick ramp-up
    • Factory approach to integration — de-skill certain tasks and roles to leverage less experienced and/or offshore resources
    • Thorough and well-documented unit testing
    • Blogs and wiki for knowledge dissemination and sharing within the team, since it was spread over 5 cities
  • Governance
    • Architecture team responsible for consistency and reuse
  • Architecture
    • Defined integration patterns and criteria for applicability
    • Enhanced common services and frameworks
    • Architecture defined to support multiple versions of services and canonical data mocdels
  • Implementation
    • Development templates for integration patterns
    • Canonical data models designed early

In short, they’ve done a pretty massive integration project with SAP at the heart of their systems, and use TIBCO (and its bridge to SAP’s PI) to move towards a primarily event-driven publish-subscribe integration with all other systems.

ALBPM together with other BEA products

A couple of updates on last week’s post about BEA’s ALBPM:

  • Peter Laird of BEA has published a how-to on integrating ALBPM into WLP (WebLogic Portal), specifically how to use the ALBPM user interface as portlets. He thoughtfully includes both a link to the official integration guide as well as his notes on how to actually make it work.
  • ALSB (AquaLogic Service Bus) now provides out-of-the-box integration with ALBPM. I picked this up on a CBR news feed as well as BEA’s press release; it appears that this brings the design-time environments closer together. The CBR article claims that this allows you to store ALBPM processes in the ALSB repository and orchestrate them directly using the ESB environment, although it’s not clear to me that that’s a step forward in terms of aligning business and IT.


I’m long overdue in reporting on BEA’s ALBPM 6.0 release; I heard the details during a technical deep dive session at BEAParticipate, but the information was embargoed at the time (in spite of being presented in front of a room full of customers). This post is a combination of my notes from that time, an interview with Jesper Joergensen at the time of the product release in August, and other bits of information gathered along the way such as Alex Toussaint’s post on ALBPM and ALSB.

Although they did add some end-user and business analyst features, most of the release has focused on improving the technical strength and enterprise scalability — not surprising when you consider that this is the first major release since BEA acquired Fuego in 2006, and some of that time was spent ensuring proper cross-pollination of the BEA and Fuego teams. The 2008 release will refocus on the usability side.

For the 6.0 release, there are some main themes:

Process intelligence:

  • They’re adding  through enhanced business rules capabilities built into ALBPM, allowing for reuse of rules across processes and some BRMS functionality such as versioning of rules independent of process versioning. For those who have outgrown the usual limited capabilities of a BPMS’ expression engine, this provides a good stepping stone before a full-on BRMS is required. I still, however, believe that it’s better to separate them so that business rules can be used by applications other than the BPMS.
  • They’re also adding some smarts to capture analytics on the manual decisions that are made by users in a process in order to provide feedback on the probability of any particular decision, and even trigger exception handling or further review if someone makes a decision that is different than the usual decision at that point. This also helps to identify decisions that can be automated.
  • Improved Flash graphics in the BAM functionality using FusionCharts. BAM will see some major enhancements in the Condor release as well.

Standards support:

  • XPDL 2.0 and BPEL 2.0 are natively supported in the process engine, although no mention of BPDM
  • Enhanced BPMN 1.0 support; the previous version does not do a full BPMN implementation
  • WS-Security for seamless identity propagation.
  • UDDI 3.0 Publishing for processes that are being exposed as web services

BEA integration:

  • WorkSpace extensions for JSF and ALUI. Since I’m not familiar with these products, I’m not sure of all the implications here, but it does provide things such as plug-and-play authentication, and easy deployment of processes within the portal environment.
  • They’re adding RSS feeds to ALBPM to be able to get a feed of a work list or a pre-defined query on process instances — this has huge implications not just for integration with BEA portals, but with any feed reader or other application that can consume feeds, on any platform. I’ve been pushing for this on this blog for over a year now, and finally starting to see it emerging from a couple of the BPM vendors.
  • Integration of ALBPM and ALSB (Service Bus) for enhanced services capabilities such as seamless publication and subscription, and WS-Security support for authentication. Although customers are already using BPM with the service bus, this integration is intended to make it easier; effectively, they plug together so that ALSB acts as a UDDI for ALBPM. And for services consumed by ALBPM from ALSB, they’re using RMI to boost the performance over the usual web services calls.

Usabilty and infrastructure enhancements:

  • Forms creation is improved with a simplified flow, and also have a CSS-based look and feel.
  • They’re moving to an Eclipse platform for the IDE by providing ALBPM plug-ins for Eclipse 3.2: the Designer/Studio will run in Eclipse, and there will be Studio Eclipse plug-ins for BEA Workshop, which provides more seamless integration with other BEA development environments. Like other products that I’ve seen go this route, they’ll have three different personas (including a new  business modelling persona), so that business analysts aren’t stranded in a developer-type environment, but developers have full access to the Eclipse functionality. Their goal was to provide full functionality in the Eclipse-based version so that there’s nothing that needs to be done in the old version; this will definitely help to encourage early migration from the old to new toolsets. By being in an Eclipse environment, that also means that development can be more easily shared with developers who are working in Eclipse but not familiar with ALBPM.
  • Improved web services support, with support for web service Doc Literal, and extended PAPI-WS.
  • Enhanced deployment methods, including simplified J2EE deployment and full JVM 1.5 support.
  • Simulation using historical production data.
  • Mobile device support.

The 2008 release, Condor, will be focused on the following themes:

  • Business and developer tool enhancements, including a web-based modeller (initially limited functionality), and enhancements to BAM.
  • Enhancements to the engine to allow it to be embedded as an OEM process engine.
  • Better integration with BPA tools (IDS Scheer and Proforma were mentioned) to support round-tripping.
  • Additional collaboration and social computing functionality via integration with other BEA tools.

Since this is forward-looking information, none of the Condor functionality listed above is guaranteed to be in the next release.

Overall, BEA is concentrating on three main areas: SOA, BPM and social computing. They’re seeing about 20% crossover between their SOA and BPM clients, and I’m sure that they’ll be pushing to increase those numbers.

Integration World Day 1: Peter Kurpick

Peter Kurpick, CPO (Chief Product Officer) of webMethods Business Division, gave an overview of the technology direction. He talked about the paradigm for SOA governance, with the layers of technical services, business services and policies being consumed by business processes: the addition of the policy layer (which is the SOA governance part) sets this apart from many of the visions of SOA that you see.

He brought along Susan Ganeshan, the SVP of Product Management and Product Marketing, to give a (canned) demo similar to one that we saw yesterday at the end of the analyst sessions. She showed the process map as modelled in their BPM layer, where the appropriate services were called and other points of integration using webMethods, then we saw the custom portal-type interfaces for customers, suppliers and internal workers. They have Fair Isaac’s Blaze Advisor integrated with the BPMS that allows them to change rules for in-flight processes, and their own monitoring and analytics as well as some new Cognos analytics integration. She also showed us the CentraSite integration, where information about services and their policies are stored; CentraSite can be used to dynamically select from multiple equivalent services based on policies, such as selecting from one of several suppliers. The idea of the demo is to show how all of the pieces can come together — people, web services, B2B services, legacy services, and policy governance — all using the webMethods suite.

The original core functionality provided by webMethods is the ESB (originally from the EAI space), but now that’s surrounded by BPM, composite applications, B2B integration and legacy modernization tools (from the Software AG side). Around that is BAM, which is being raised in importance from being just an adjunct to BPM to being an event-related technology in its own right. Around all of this is SOA governance, which is what CentraSite brings to this.

The next release, due sometime in 2008, will be a fully-integrated suite of the Software AG and webMethods products, although Kurpick didn’t provide a lot of information.


There’s a half-day ESB/SOA online conference coming up on October 18th, with speakers from BEA, IBM, Oracle and Progress. I’m sure that there will be a lot of vendor marketing messages included, but it might be worthwhile if you’re just starting to look in this area and want to get an earful from some of the key vendors.

Take the Ajax challenge

I had a chance to talk to Kevin Hakman of TIBCO late last week about their Ajax Challenge (Kevin co-founded General Interface, which was acquired by TIBCO a couple of years back), the goal of which is to build the world’s largest mashup. You have to use General Interface to build it, but more interestingly, you have to use PageBus, a JavaScript client-side message bus that TIBCO just contributed to the OpenAjax Alliance as open source to become part of the OpenAjax Hub 1.0 installation.

The contest is splashy (win an oversized TV! win a video iPod!) but PageBus is the real news here: it provides a message bus for mashups in an attempt to eliminate the spaghetti mess of point-to-point integrations that we’re already starting to see emerge. In the enterprise world, this is why ESBs have become an essential part of any sizable application integration effort: without a message bus, you’re creating a unique integration between each pair of applications. Okay when you have two applications, but not when you have 10. [To be fair, usually you don’t have every application interact with every other application in a complex integration: each one may only interact with a couple of others, but that just shifts the pain point, it doesn’t eliminate it.]

Getting back to mashups and the OpenAjax Hub, the PageBus exposes the basic functions of messaging — publish, subscribe, unsubscribe — all in less than 5k of JavaScript, so that multiple Ajax components on an HTML page can share data using these standard methods. This allows the development of a mashup to be more easily split up between multiple developers since each can focus on their specific component and not on the interface between components; it will also allow for easier “no programing required” assembly of components within a PageBus-enabled mashup framework.

This is a pretty important step in mashup-land: I’m starting to see a lot of things referred to as mashups that are actually portals, where the components don’t intercommunicate, but the fundamental benefit of mashups is that they are an integration, not just components that happen to coexist on the same page.

TIBCO is apparently already using this in their BPM product for things such as task list publication, which means (I think) that you could create a mashup between your iProcess task list and some other component or data source — a real BPM mashup. Although many vendors are starting to provide RSS feeds of task lists/inboxes (I hope that my past year of nagging about this has had some contribution to those efforts), this is the first truly mashup-enabled BPM environment of which I’m aware.

The full OpenAjax Hub specification is about 4-6 weeks away from release, but the project is already on SourceForge. TIBCO will continue to develop the source and contribute to the open source efforts in the future; their press release about PageBus is here.

Fujitsu Interstage BPM

A few months back, I had a demo of Fujitsu’s Interstage BPM (unfortunately prefaced by 25 minutes of business strategy presentation). Interstage really has three components: the BPM product which I saw in this demo, the CentraSite BPM and SOA registry and repository, and the Service Orchestration ESB.

One thing to keep in mind is that Interstage BPM has primarily been used as an OEM BPM engine embedded within other products, so there’s a lot of stuff missing that you would find in other BPM suites; however, they integrate and partner with a number of other vendors to fill in some of the gaps. They also haven’t focussed as much on the North American market, so have much less of a marketing presence here.

Although they partner with Zynium, they now have a moderately functional process designer and see Zynium as a conversion utility rather than a ongoing process modelling tool. They also partner with IDS Scheer for a more full-featured process analysis environment, although with no round-tripping. Their claim is that Interstage BPM can “map all BPMN concepts”, but it doesn’t support all the notation explicitly: there’s no transaction wrapper, no intermediate events handling, and no swimlanes.


It can extract WSDL from CentraSite, any UDDI directory or directly from a web service, and can call remote subprocesses from another BPM system (although technically that’s possible to/from any two BPM systems that expose subprocesses as web services).

They partner with both Fair Isaac and ILOG for business rules management, and can use IDS Scheer PPM and other 3rd party products for BI/BAM. Simulation is done using an Eclipse plug-in, or IDS Scheer’s PPM can be used for historical actual data simulation.

They demonstrated a browser-based end-user interface, with an inbox, item data and attachment, and the process map and progress, but this was a custom demo solution; it’s not clear if they have much of this available out of the box. You can create JSP forms with third-party tools and integrate them as the user interface using the underlying Java API, or can use (their?) QuickForms, which provides a simple HTML form that can be edited to suit.

As I mentioned earlier, it’s difficult to compare Interstage BPM with other BPMS because it’s really just emerging into the full-on BPMS market from its previous strength as an OEM product, and just starting a North American marketing push. Gartner’s 2006 BPMS Magic Quadrant put them in the “Challengers” category — good ability to execute, but less completeness of vision — along with other large BPM vendors FileNet and Global360; “ability to execute” is based in part on strong corporate financials and sales execution, so you’d expect to see this quadrant dominated by larger vendors. Forrester’s 2006 Wave for Human-Centric BPM puts them on the low end of the “Strong Performers” category, and characterizes them as “leads in OEM deals and standards but requires coding to build out advanced functionality”, which pretty much sums it up.

Fujitsu’s been in the workflow, and now BPM, market for a long time; it will be interesting to watch how the product develops over the next months to see if it can start to meet the functionality and vision of some of the market leaders.