Bruce Silver: Not Much BPM at #IBMImpact?

Scott Francis
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I think Bruce and I attended different conferences last week.  Actually, we kind of did (I think Derek Miers and I both attended the same conference, on the other hand).  I went to “Lombardi Driven @ Impact” – a day of sessions just focused on Lombardi.  Bruce and the other analysts didn’t, to my knowledge.  I don’t know if that is because they weren’t given the opportunity or just weren’t aware of the Lombardi sessions (they weren’t terribly well publicized at Impact… and honestly, they were so packed that the rooms were uncomfortable. ), or because they wanted to cover the wider Websphere material at the event. Bruce says:
Not a lot of BPM news out of IBM at Impact this week.  The most surprising thing for me about it is how thoroughly Lombardi – acquired just a few months ago – has enthralled the WebSphere executives.  At the opening keynote, WebSphere GM Craig Heyman called Lombardi Teamworks, rebranded IBM WebSphere BPM Lombardi Edition, “the core BPM product.”  Really?
Yes. Really. I would have phrased this: The most surprising thing for me about it is how thoroughly IBM has co-opted the Lombardi message and positioning.  I see that as a good thing – it isn’t clear that Bruce does from his post. If Lombardi is the core BPM product… good.  Because IBM needs to simplify the path to BPM for its customers, and the Lombardi product offering and team gives IBM its best chance to do just that. And not many organizations would benefit as much as IBM would from a simplified experience with their Websphere stack. Bruce continues :
And at today’s keynote session, Beth Smith, another top WebSphere executive, devoted the only demo of the session to a conventional walkthrough of Lombardi BluePrint and Teamworks, I mean WebSphere Lombardi Edition.  Nothing anyone who follows BPM hasn’t seen for the past couple years from Lombardi, but to the WebSphere execs this technology seems nothing short of amazing.
My experience is that any product execs present will be presented as nothing short of amazing.  Check out the Apple presentations of apps like Keynote (hello, have we not seen powerpoint before?).  IBM had an audience of 6000 people, probably 5800 of whom had never seen Blueprint nor Websphere Lombardi Edition – good chance to make your pitch.  Not to mention, paid products usually get better billing than free products at vendor conferences… (Also, since IBM has apparently been in discussions with Lombardi from time to time for 5 years, I’m sure they’d seen it before).
The ironic thing about it is that the process discovery tools and BPMN 2.0 editor in IBM BPM BlueWorks and WebSphere Business Compass – brand new, and tools aligned with the real WebSphere BPMS – are actually better than Blueprint, not to mention free.  But no mention of them. Don’t get me wrong — I love Lombardi.
I feel the love! First, referring to WPS as the “real” Websphere BPMS (is Lombardi the fake one?), and then stating that BlueWorks is better than Blueprint.  I would say that “better” is pretty subjective, and Bruce is the first person I’ve heard say that that didn’t work at IBM prior to the merger. They’re different tools with different agendas, but it seems obvious to everyone that a consolidation strategy is needed over time – ie, they should probably be feature-sets within a common tool, rather than completely separate things, from a technical implementation point of view.  90 days into the merger, and with full integration to be complete July 1, I think it isn’t unreasonable that they’re taking their time.  As one exec put it – this is clearly something where getting it right is worth taking a little extra time. Bruce wraps up:
Unlike Oracle’s immediate announcement of a BPM roadmap after it acquired BEA.
For the record, there was no Oracle BPM roadmap before Oracle acquired BEA… So that was a no-brainer. Regarding what the strategy likely is… I refer you to your first quote, Bruce.  Yes, really.
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  • Thanks, Scott, for the “love”… or whatever that was. I didn't write about what IBM “should” do. It was really about the over-the-top posturing. If you think Lombardi is IBM's mainstream BPM offering going forward… well, we'll see. And I agree, my Impact experience was mostly limited to the “big tent” sessions and the 2-day analyst mini-conference, both of which were all fluff and not very interesting. The good stuff was at the product breakouts, and I don't doubt that there was a lot of it at the Lombardi ones.

  • Bruce – thx for the response and clarifications!
    re: not commenting on what IBM “should” do – my apologies for misunderstanding in that regard. And yes, I can understand the frustration with over the top posturing :) All of the vendors do so much of it that I feel like I'm developing anti-bodies. I wish IBM had invited the BPM community to attend at least some of the Lombardi sessions but it is a bit water under the bridge I guess.

  • Yes – It is all about our view from whence we see – isn’t it?
    Should we quibble – if our view is different from everyone else’s around? – If that is not the case – will IBM invite 6000 to findout what their product really means to these on-lookers?

    • Your comment has caused me to revisit this topic – and all I can say is, IBM is clearly behind the Lombardi product line, as was apparent to me at Impact – unfortunately the Lombardi Day sessions were in a small, overflowing room, so not very many people had a chance to see that side… but the keynotes were in front of everyone, and put Lombardi products front and center.