The Germany-based business process management vendor announces Webmethods 8.2 and ARIS 7 along with REST support and a new rules platform. But one analyst calls them

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Software AG announced on Thursday two major product releases that for the first time offers what one executive describes as “true deep level integration” of its Webmethods and ARIS platforms, got from acquisitions in previous years. However, one analyst thinks this is more of a “catch-up” release that mimics capabilities others have already brought to market.

“This is not to minimize the strength of the assets that they are bringing over, but in BPM platform integration, they are following in the steps of recent similar announcements from IBM and Oracle,” said Tony Baer, senior analyst with research firm Ovum.
 

Webmethods 8.2 and ARIS 7.2 are the latest versions of the Germany-based business process management (BPM) vendor’s execution engine and business process design platforms, respectively. Software AG acquired Webmethods in 2007 and IDS Scheer in 2009.

The idea is that, by integrating the technologies, customers get a “unified” way of doing tooling, administration and management of the products. During a conference call, Susan Ganeshan, Software AG’s chief portfolio officer, said the integration will result in lower total cost of ownership and faster go-to-market for customers.

“That is our fundamental belief as an organization, and that is why we spend time bringing these products together in a unique way,” said Ganeshan.

Among the new capabilities in the new releases, is complex event processing (CEP) with a new product called Webmethods Business Events. Ganeshan said customers, such as those in the logistics business, can monitor and correlate events, such as storms or traffic, to ensure they can deliver on promised business metrics.

Software AG also now has its own rules platform, besides the one it will continue to offer through a partnership with Fico. This new open source-based platform supports dynamic rule changes and is useful for cable companies, said Ganeshan, that must manage product packages that undergo frequent changes to products and prices.

Baer said while Software AG is playing catch up in CEP, which has become another must-have component in any middleware platform, “being late to the game there is hardly fatal as the market remains in extended early development.”

And as for now having its own rules engine, based on open source, Baer thinks it’s a smart move to either partner with a vendor or use existing open source technologies so Software AG can focus on its strengths, which are BPM and services-oriented architecture.

“But of course, they will lack the depth of functionality that IBM has with JRules—the ILOG product which it is embedding liberally throughout its portfolio—or content, where IBM and Oracle have established products,” said Baer.

Also, among the new capabilities, the IT department and the business are able to better communicate on process design and execution by keeping both sides in the loop at all times. Ganeshan describes it as a way to “roundtrip the asset between the business and IT and we always keep them in sync.”

The new Webmethods Content Services Platform is for better document integration, and is particularly useful, said Ganeshan, for insurance companies doing claims management because information often goes missing during that process.

Software AG is also providing lifecycle support for REST (Representational State Transfer) services in its process platform. This means organizations can develop, monitor and re-use REST services, while detecting rogue services, said Ganeshan.

“So, the message to customers, is if they are in the world of Web-oriented architectures, we have the complete lifecycle support for the management and monitoring of those types of architectures,” she said.

Ray Wang, principal analyst and CEO at Constellation Research Inc., pointed out that the advantage of REST is that it provides very lightweight services with little extraneous XML markup and that are also easy to build without the need for major toolkits.
 

“If you build in REST, interoperability increases and developers can get to build once, deploy many,” said Wang.

Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @KathleenLau

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