On the heels of IBM’s acquisition of Lombardi comes Progress Software’s acquisition of Savvion. The salient similarities are that IBM is adding BPM applications to its middleware stack as is Progress, at least with regard to its enterprise service bus offerings. More interesting is the relationship between Progress’ complex event processing software and Savvion’s BPM. Also of note is the vendor-provided integration of JBOSS Rules within Savvion versus the unrealized potential of IBM’s Ilog with respect to Lombardi.
We’ve written several times about the artificial distinction between CEP and BPM, their inevitable convergence, and the immature integration of business rules with business process management and event processing that inhibits knowledge-driven governance and decisioning.
We predict that IBM will soon abandon its hair-splitting between business event processing and complex event processing and make a deeper move in the CEP space than its partnerships with Coral8/Aleri and Streambase (we don’t see IBM’s acquisition of AptSoft as addressing the need). It will also be interesting to see how closely IBM integrates Ilog with its BPM middleware and the Lombardi applications. Unfortunately, Progress is unlikely to pressure IBM or advance the knowledge-driven enterprise to the extent that a move by Oracle, SAP, or TIBCO could. And, although they each have some position with regard to rules, conversations with Oracle, SAP and TIBCO continue to indicate incremental approaches without any bold vision for knowledge-driven enterprises where IBM owns the vision and thought leadership.
To date, IBM and SAP have similar messaging of their primary rule-based tools with respect to their middleware platforms. That is, Ilog is positioned with respect to WebSphere as YASU is positioned with respect to NetWeaver. Of course, Ilog is the stronger product. IBM also has better marketing, both in WebSphere versus NetWeaver and Ilog versus SAP’s now non-descript rules engine. To put it another way, SAP almost ignores policy and decision management.
It is worth noting that SAP uses a second-generation decision-oriented scripting language called “Business Rules Framework” within many of its applications. SAP is working on relating this pervasively applied, internally developed, procedural tool with its acquired rules engine. I don’t see much to indicate that SAP will take an effective position versus IBM or Oracle in middleware decisioning, however. Still, they seem aware of the need to formulate their strategy. Perhaps we’ll see something in 2010.
Oracle clearly lags IBM in middleware decisioning and suffers from a convergence challenge among its Haley, Ruleburst, and JESS rules engines that are used in its CRM, public sector, and middleware offerings. However, Oracle is well ahead of SAP in its decisioning capabilities, both within its applications and in its next generation of Fusion and Fusion-based applications.
But IBM, Oracle and SAP seem out of the CEP picture. So now we have Progress promising the most robust platform for events, processes and rules. Unfortunately, Progress/Savvion will not be as accessible as IBM or Oracle offerings. That is, IBM and Oracle, by way of their acquisitions of Ilog and Haley, are much better suited for policy and decision management.
We have written previously that robust business process management must address event processing and that event-driven business processes tend to have many fairly simple processes that are triggered and orchestrated by events and rules. Tools that ineffectively require users to map policies and rules into flow charts (including almost all CEP and BPM platforms) fail to raise business management from the procedural to the knowledge-driven enterprise.
The CEP vendors, including Progress, TIBCO, Coral8/Aleri, and Streambase, need to consider the analyst-accessible, linguistically-oriented approaches of IBM and Oracle in order to cross the same chasm that business rules vendors crossed last decade. The same remains true for BPM vendors, although it is nice to see that Progress has selected one that takes rule integration seriously. IBM is clearly on the move and Oracle is best positioned to respond, but they lack events capabilities, both in their platform/stack and in their knowledge management capabilities.
Of the CEP vendors, TIBCO is best positioned because it has rules and BPM capabilities now. It will be interesting to see if Coral8/Aleri or Streambase make any moves towards accessibility and business process management in 2010. IBM is clearly dictating this is the game this decade.