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2006 new-model-year BPM software: Workflow, STP and more under the same hood

BEA
BEA makes the IDC BPM leader board even though the company did not really begin to emphasize its BPM capabilities until 2005. In August 2005, BEA launched BEA WebLogic Integration 8.5 and enhanced its BPM, BAM and B2B offerings. That portfolio of integration products addresses complex enterprise integration challenges, including application integration, business process integration and integration with trading partners. BEA WebLogic Integration 8.5 supports the BPEL4WS 1.1 standard. Developers can develop business processes in WebLogic Integration 8.5 and export them as BPEL processes; likewise, BPEL processes developed in other tools can be imported into WebLogic Integration 8.5.

Administration enhancements focus on process monitoring and reporting, new enterprise console compatibility with HP OpenView and BMC Business Services Management, and support for a new ProActivity release designed to enhance BPA and BAM capabilities for BEA WebLogic Integration. BEA WebLogic Integration 8.5 covers most of the dimensions noted above with process management, data transformation, connectivity, developer productivity, administration and tools for nonprogrammers driven from a shared metadata cache. Given its heritage, it is not a workflow-centric BPM product.

FileNet
As with Adobe, FileNet's position on our BPM leader board is based especially on the market strength of FileNet's content applications, although FileNet gained a lead in the BPM market by bringing a separate integration product (the Business Process Manager) to market in 2003 based on its P8 platform. In September 2005, FileNet announced it had integrated Fair Isaac Blaze Advisor rules management technology into the FileNet Business Process Manager (BPM) suite (although other leading business rules engines can still be used). The combined solution lets business users across the enterprise respond to customer demands and changing regulatory standards, and react to other compelling business events.

As with other suppliers' Q3 '05 announcements, the idea is to get the IT department out of the loop as much as possible. The ability to make immediate policy changes to business processes without using additional IT resources places decision management strategies in the hands of business managers, helping to reduce unnecessary steps and improve business performance and responsiveness. In October 2005, FileNet added a business activity monitor to catch up with other suppliers in the market. FileNet Business Activity Monitoring provides real-time event management and visibility of business performance data to enhance operational responsiveness and decision making.

IBM
IBM's position on our leader board is based on a variety of successful product offerings over the years and reflects everything from the venerable Flow Mark content management software, the range of process capabilities in various WebSphere-branded products, as well as the workflow capability available with Lotus Notes and MQ Workflow. In September 2005, as part of a wide-ranging WebSphere announcement, IBM took the next step in pulling its BPM offering together under both the WebSphere banner and—more importantly—under WebSphere technology. In that announcement, IBM released its Process Server 6.0 deployment product (an upgrade to WebSphere Business Integration 5.x), as well as WebSphere Business Modeler, WebSphere Integration Developer and WebSphere Business Monitor--which are tools for both programmers and business analysts--and a BAM.

Process Server is an eventual replacement for IBM's MQ Workflow software and adds STP functionality to that long popular human-centric capability. Process Server is not only built on WebSphere Application Server but also uses the new "basic" WebSphere ESB to mediate among metadata, business rules and process, human tasks and business state machines, and what IBM calls "selectors." To varying degrees, depending on the product and package (of which IBM offers many), the tools support simulation management enhancements, such as the ability to define and view simulation attributes using a table format, dynamic analysis performance and scalability enhancement, swim lanes and similar BPM techniques, and standards. That combined IBM BPM lineup provides native deployment support for BPEL4WS processes, a common event infrastructure, the features already available in WebSphere Application Server and many other development features not specific to BPM.

Metastorm 
Metastorm makes it onto the IDC BPM deployment software leader board based on its acquisition of CommerceQuest. The position results primarily from the successful product offering of e-Work over the years, but it is also buoyed by the CommerceQuest Traxion B2B strengths, which we expect Metastorm to build into e-Work. (Brand names may change completely of course.) In September 2005, Metastorm announced e-Work Envision, a process modeling and simulation product designed to enable analysis of business processes to identify problem areas and model effective changes before getting to runtime deployment. e-Work Envision also provides customers forecasting and predictive analysis capabilities that allow users to both model new processes and simulate the impact of changes to existing processes. The new software allows processes built in the e-Work Designer to be simulated and provide answers to questions such as: How long will it take to complete the process? What is the cost of processing a business process set?

The real power of e-Work Envision comes from its integration with the rest of Metastorm's BPM suite. Before the acquisition of CommerceQuest, Metastorm characterized Envision as the delivery of the final piece of the company's round-trip product strategy. We now expect Metastorm to expand the product strategy by incorporating many of CommerceQuest's features (which at a minimum will have the advantage of providing multiple routes to make the round trip and addressing the high-performance system-to-system integration aspects of complex business processes).

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