IBM Expands SOA with BPM Products

In September, IBM made announcements that strengthened its position as a leader in services oriented architectures and established its position in the important Business Process Management market. While the company has long espoused services oriented architecture (SOA) as a means for organizations to create flexible, business-oriented computing environments, the recent announcements build on IBM’s existing SOA capabilities and add specific BPM products and tools, tying the two closely together. The results are a BPM offering with a strong foundation based on SOA as well as a seasoned services team and partner network to ensure customer success.
The product announcements related to SOA and BPM are focused around IBM’s WebSphere software, tying in Rational and Tivoli software as well as acquired software such as the CrossRoads and Ascential solutions. Specifically, the following products were announced:
– WebSphere Business Modeler, a business-analyst level tool for modeling and designing process flows for SOAs, based on the Eclipse application development tool.
– WebSphere Integration Developer, an Eclipse-based application development tool for IT to build and deploy business processes based on a services-oriented architecture.
– WebSphere Enterprise Service Bus (ESB), an ESB that provides connectivity and integration for Web Services-based applications.
– WebSphere Process Server is a new process server powered by WebSphere ESB that forms the foundation for IBM?s BPM solution.
– WebSphere Message Broker, a new version of the message broker that provides advanced ESB functionality to provide connectivity and data transformation for non-standards-based applications.
– WebSphere Business Monitor has been enhanced to monitor business process performance and provide a way to track key performance indicators.
At the services level, IBM announced new services specifically created to provide ongoing support for SOA deployments as well as IBM’s products and services into a more cohesive and complete solution offering for enterprises. Specifically, IBM Global Services has created three new services: SOA Governance; SOA Industry Teams that are focused on key vertical industries; and the upcoming Common Services Delivery Platform (CSDP), a repository of reusable software assets based on IBM and
third-party software.
Rounding out the announcement was the expansion of its SOA Business Partner Community to include a number of support tools for business partners in the community. These tools will make it easier for the more than 4,000 partners in the network to more easily market, sell and support SOA-based initiatives.
Upside Uptake
Upside Research believes that IBM’s SOA and BPM announcements will have a significant impact on the BPM market from a number of perspectives. The very fact that IBM is announcing a comprehensive set of products and services linking BPM to SOA is recognition that the Business Process Management market is maturing and has now attracted the attention and commitment of a software giant. IBM has long been committed to SOA, and by tying BPM closely to its SOA offering, it is clearly tagging BPM as a critical area of growth for enterprise computing. The additional services and partnerships that are forming around SOA and BPM further solidify this commitment and provide a layer of support and services for BPM that is significant in the enterprise BPM space.
As Upside Research has stated over the past several years, most organizations want to manage their business processes at the business level, making Business Process Management software a unique solution that requires close alignment of business users and IT for ultimate success. With this announcement, IBM has conveyed its understanding of the close ties between business and IT for business process success, and IBM is providing the tools for both sets of stakeholders to participate in creating successful business processes. The alignment of its business modeling tool with its integration modeling tool is an example of how IBM is trying to make the hand-off from business to IT seamless, contributing to faster implementations and ultimate ROI for BPM projects.
In recent reports on the state of the BPM market, Upside Research has identified monitoring, management and process optimization as critical components of a successful BPM solution. While most businesses have identified monitoring and optimization as important buying criteria for BPM solutions, there is not as much use of these functionalities in the trenches today. IBM’s announcement of WebSphere Business Monitor conveys its grasp of the market, and the understanding that optimization and monitoring are key capabilities for enterprise BPM solutions. While most BPM deployments for the moment will continue to focus on automation and monitoring of the existing processes, IBM’s product offering enables its customers to move toward optimization and continuous process improvement when they are ready.
Upside Research believes that the overall solution that IBM outlined is comprehensive and built upon the strong services-oriented foundation that resonates with enterprise organizations. IBM’s BPM offering provides those large enterprises with the tools for moving toward BPM, and customers that are already WebSphere and SOA converts will have a particularly easy path for adoption. For some customers, there may be a challenge involved in trying to extend or integrate the different products that make up the overall IBM solution with their existing products and environments. While
there is a benefit to the reach of the IBM BPM offering, it also brings with it complexity, and IBM will have to clearly articulate for customers exactly what the solution entails, including offering customers tactical ways to deploy the solution. In this respect, Upside Research would like to see IBM continue to refine its BPM offering to make deployment and implementation as hassle-free as possible.
As we stated earlier, Upside Research believes that the announcement by IBM provides validation for the Business Process Management market, while at the same time changing the competitive landscape. IBM has added itself to the fray, and represents a large competitor focused on enterprise deals, one that is intimately familiar with the needs of the enterprise for solution selling and support. This announcement will force pure-play BPM vendors to better articulate their particular value and strengths, playing up the value of a best-of-breed solution. And, it remains to be seen how this announcement will impact the BPM solution providers that are tied in closely to the IBM partner network and have relied on the network for business opportunities