IBM Quietly Updates BPM

Scott Francis
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On April 5th, with little fanfare, IBM updated several pages pertaining to its BPM offering. IBM BPM v7.5 “provides a comprehensive platform for visibility and management of your business processes“. First off, I like the simplified name (note the dropping of “Websphere” from in front of “BPM”).  I think it is a good move for IBM to focus more on IBM as the brand. There are a lot of implications to this announcement and the set of related articles.  But I’ll keep most of those under my hat because, even though I don’t have any insider information on the subject, I fear that people will assume that I do, because of our prior relationship with Lombardi Software.  Reading between the lines of the several product updates, however, I see good news ahead for IBM’s BPM platform.  I’m sure that sessions at Impact will either confirm or debunk my guesses as to the implications of these announcements, and I’ll report on Impact in this space next week. Key excerpts on features:
  • Unified authoring environment – Supports graphical, what-you-see-is-what-you-execute implementation and testing of process applications, services, user interfaces, and rules.
  • Standards-based process design – Uses Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN).
  • Integration designer – Delivers tooling for visually constructing services, data transformations, Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) orchestrations, and integration to applications and backend systems.
  • Business rule authoring – For expressing business logic in an accessible manner using syntax that is closer to natural language when compared to JavaScript™. The capability provides the same rule authoring experience provided by WebSphere ILOG® JRules.[…]
  • Properties sheets – Allows configuration of implementation details instead of coding so that less technical users can participate in design.
  • Interactive playback – Enables quick team validation of process requirements at any time.
  • Shared library of all process assets – Facilitates drag-and-drop reuse and collaborative implementation.
  • Complete lifecycle governance – The solution stays in synch throughout the entire lifecycle from model design to deployment.
Summing it up:  if you like Websphere Lombardi Edition v7.2, you’re going to love IBM BPM 7.5. I read this as closer integration with IBM’s rules portfolio (ILOG), as well as IBM’s integration capabilities (Integration Designer).  And I read this as not giving up on core tenets of Lombardi:  unified modeling environment, shared library, lifecycle governance. IBM BPM 7.5 is offered in three tiers: IBM BPM Advanced, IBM BPM Standard, and IBM BPM Express.  This sounds like about the right way to stack it up to me, given what I know about IBM’s range of offerings.  No more Lombardi vs. WPS – just a range of capabilities under one masthead. Full compatibility with previous versions of IBM Websphere Process Server and IBM Websphere Lombardi Edition is promised. Of course, like most product release notes, this is a pretty dry read.  I’m looking forward to the color commentary at Impact to tell us  what to read into these release notes.  Expect to find coverage here!     PS- Browser fans will be disappointed to learn that IE6 is still supported.  I keep hoping that IBM and other big vendors will force the issue by discontinuing support for that product, which even MSFT wants everyone off of.    
  • Good spot Scott, I hadn’t seen this announced! You’re right, it was “quiet”…
    I’m currently finalising an in-depth report on the new release and you’re right, it is a *significant step* on from what went before. Watch this space!

    • Looking forward to the report -and of course, we’ll post our opinions here as well! So far, the Lombardi acquisition has dramatically improved IBM’s standing in the BPM sphere. Looks like more movement in that direction with this release.

  • It just shows it is tough for a vendor to stop supporting IE6 when a large number of corporate clients are using it in their environments.

    • It isn’t really tough for them to stop supporting it, it is actually very tough for them to keep supporting it. But I guess it does keep a few extra people gainfully employed figuring out how to make things backward compatible.

  • A major shift in strategy from the #1 BPM vendor and you are talking about IE6 support? C’mon Scott.

    • Is it a major shift in strategy or the realization of the strategy they’ve been working on for 9 months or so? Either way, it definitely looks like a coming out party for the BPM strategy.

      Besides, it was only a postscript ;)

    • And Bruce, I imagine you must be pleased with the direction, as it sounds pretty much like your advice from your blog right after Impact 2010 :)

    • Just be glad Netscape 4 is off the list ;-)

  • Neo Patell

    For sure it seems significant release. It would be also interesting to know how do they support upgrades for existing customers?! Transition from 6.x to 7.x was not smooth (not at all possible in certain cases) being major / significant release.

    Existing customers should keep their fingers crossed!

    Thanks,
    Neo

    • To develop the upgrade tools from TW6x to WLE7x was non-trivial to implement (for Lombardi/IBM). Still, you could largely import TW6 assets into WLE 7.2 and have them work as-is. The problem was the running instances / production migration. We’ll have to see if they provide TW6x upgrade tools in this release or not. However, I believe there is some certainty about upgrade path from 7.2 to 7.5.

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