#IBMImpact: Damion Heredia and the Lombardi Product Roadmap

Scott Francis
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Damion Heredia, formerly VP of Product at Lombardi, now at IBM, explained the objectives for Websphere Lombardi Edition and for IBM BPM Blueprint. Like all the Lombardi Day sessions, the room was packed tight and needed a little more air circulation. He introduced the product managers for Websphere Lombardi Edition (Leslie Jordan), IBM BPM Blueprint (Dave Marquard), and Professional Services (Kelvin King). Starting with the objectives:
  • Bluewash Teamworks and Blueprint as quickly as possible (yes, Bluewash is a real term, that refers to getting software in compliance with IBM software policy)
  • Leverage and Integrate other IBM products
  • Ensure Existing Customer Success
  • Continue Innovating (60% or more of the team working on new stuff rather than maintaining the old stuff.)
According to Damion, in IBM Websphere Lombardi Edition 7.1 will continue to incorporate all the features that make TW7 appealing – versioning, deployment scenarios, toolkits, etc. It will be released to the product catalog for all IBM sales reps. Previously, Teamworks 7 embedded the JBoss application server.  But going foward they’ll be embedding Websphere ND as the appserver, and DB2 as the embedded (default) database.  Websphere Lombardi Edition 7 will continue to support MS SQL and Oracle as well, and Weblogic and JBoss, but the embedded version will be Websphere – it sounds like they’re looking for market demand to dictate which of the other appservers they support first.   Of course, if they do they’re job right embedding this thing, we won’t even notice that there’s an app server in the stack. There will be continued support for Unix and Windows.  Of course, I want to know if they’ll support Macs as authoring environments in the near future? Why not? the delta between Eclipse working on unix and on a Mac is trivial! (Eclipse already works, can’t be that hard to get the authoring environment to work) In the 2nd half of 2010, they plan to provide:
  • An upgrade path to all TW6x customers, including the ability to migrate in flight process instances, performance server data, the optimizer.  New analysis tools will make the upgrade planning easier.
  • Improved refactoring of assets into toolkits for re-use.
  • Coach Designer enhancements,
  • Additional platform support
  • Baked-in Integration touch points with IBM products – iLog seems an especially obvious choice, but there were some others.  He described this as “the kind of thing you can only do inside IBM” rather than as a third party software company.
  • Further localization support, allowing authors to write processes in their native languages, not just customize the portal with language specifics.
For IBM BPM Blueprint, the focus is on integration between Blueprint and Websphere business modeler (other tools inside IBM, besides Teamworks, er, Lombardi Edition).  He recapped the template feature of Blueprint that was just added, and noted that they would be expanding on the template library in the near future – it currently features 100 templates, templates primarily gained from the IBM side of the house. Cut to Q&A: “What about upgrading from other IBM products to Websphere Lombardi Edition?” My paraphrasing of the discussion is that integrations that aide moving models from one IBM product to another are going to get attention, but that there wasn’t a focus on upgrading an implementation-level detail from one product to another (WPS to Lombardi Edition or in reverse). “How should customers deal with the positioning of Lombardi if we don’t like it, and what advice to you offer organizations who use all kinds of process technologies?” The gist was, push back if you don’t like the direction or positioning, get heard through your IBM customer or business partner contacts, IBM will try to accommodate and listen to the customer and partner community.  The key message was that Lombardi would be the best place for green field BPM customers. Meanwhile, IBM will work on the “words on slides that cause confusion” problem. “Which version of Teamworks will have conditional activities, or other features from 6.2.2 not yet on TW7.x?” – Fully merged into TW7 line by the end of the year. “What is the plan for release frequency?” Damion thinks this will be minor releases about twice a year. The customer base has a hard time adopting change any faster than that.  My counterpoint to this response is that IBM/Lombardi need to improve HOW updates (minor releases) happen to make it more like downloading a Firefox update or an iPhone App update, rather than a full-blown installation effort.  Make it easier for us to absorb the changes! “Blueworks or Blueprint?” Blueworks will be a great place to learn about BPM, and participate in a community.  But if you’re going to document the process and give it to users, Blueprint will be the place to do that (noting that is is a production software asset you roll out to your team – and provides tie ins to other IBM execution products).  Blueprint will stay laser focused on what it does: Documenting, Mapping, Collaborating.  It isn’t the strategy tool, but it is replacing sticky notes and whiteboards. “How will industry frameworks be applied to Teamworks?” Lombardi is in the “vertical” (Damion’s word) business of process.  But IBM has expertise in many verticals, and can build assets on the Lombardi platform to attack these vertical industry frameworks.  From this author’s perspective, the combination of Lombardi and the previous acquisition (Webify aka Fabric) could yield some killer applications in vertical segments.  Lombardi addresses process within the four walls of your firm, but Fabric addresses process between you and your industry food chain – outside the four walls if you will. There was a hint in here that Beth Smith’s keynote would have interesting news about SaaS /hosted software, in response to a direct question on the subject, but Damion didn’t provide details. Damion also plugged the ability of companies to use Blueprint with manual execution of the process (some would call this inbetween design by doing and doing by design).  It is a low-cost way to test out process changes in green-field scenarios. Another discussion occurred referencing round-tripping versus shared model. Damion made the pitch that round-tripping has quite a few more land mines than having a shared model – and that Lombardi feels it has proved the value of a shared model approach  over time. “If you use the embedded Websphere license – does that entail additional licensing costs?”  No, the Websphere ND embedded license is included in your purchase of Websphere Lombardi Edition.  This will provide unified support contacts, simpler version management of WAS and Lombardi software (it will look like one product), and over time, a lot of improvement in how you administer Lombardi (aka Teamworks). Also, there was an interesting side note that IBM folks are looking at using Lombardi internally as well…