Q&A with Software AG CEO Karl-Heinz Streibich

WASHINGTON, D.C.—ProcessWorld 2010 took place this where ComputerWorld Canada had the chance to speak with Karl-Heinz Streibich, CEO of Software AG, on maintaining an open ARIS platform, the company’s plans for cloud-based business processes, and whether it will follow suit and buy a managed file transfer vendor just as middleware rivals IBM Corp. and Tibco have done.

ComputerWorld Canada: Software AG has said it wants to take business process  management (BPM) from domain experts to the every day user. How is that coming along?Day 1 Coverage: Software AG, IDS Scheer execs give merger update

Karl-Heinz Streibich: That is going very well especially through the acquisition of IDS Scheer because IDS Scheer has been selling since 25 years their process methodology with tools to the business side. That means IDS Scheer had huge proliferation of its ARIS toolset, the ARIS language is a worldwide standard. Now we are building the bridge between all the described process and the process automation tool from webMethods. So they create the content, we have the engine to automate it.Day 2 Coverage: Software AG broadens consulting with IDS Scheer

CWC: The company released earlier in 2010 ARIS Align, a cloud-based social BPM tool. Given that software-as-a-service is a new delivery channel for the company, how will cloud continue to play into your products?

KS: Cloud technology is a very popular subject and Software AG is participating in that as well. We have, with ARIS VIDEO: In Conversation: dissecting ProcessWorld 2010Align, a collaborative way of designing processes through social networks. And I’m sure more cloud applications will follow in the future, although we are not an application company, we are an infrastructure company. But I could imagine that there will be a time in the future when we provide standard processes out of the cloud.

CWC: When Software AG acquired IDS Scheer, there was much talk about really keeping the ARIS platform independent. But during IDS Scheer/ProcessWorld 2010 the company is saying it wants to build a “unique tight integration” with webMethods. Would your customers not feel pushed towards that webMethods option?

KS: Definitely not. We will keep ARIS an open platform. No question about that. All the partners who are using ARIS can build a future strategy on that so we won’t exclude any partners from that. However, we owne ARIS and we own webMethods and it’s up to us how much money we invest in bringing both together. There we will make significant investment in the near future and this is where we think we will have an advantage on the webMethods side by being very very close to the content that has developed through ARIS.

CWC: Even if you are keeping the ARIS platform open, you are expecting customers to notice the value add with a tight integration with webMethods. Do you anticipate some customers will switch from other middleware vendors to webMethods?

KS: It is a competitive game. Oracle tries to sell its middleware. Tibco tries to sell its middleware. IBM as well and we do as well. We have different weapons to differentiate ourselves. The close link between ARIS and webMethods is one weapon, but not the full weapon arsenal. There are also differentiating capabilities that Oracle has which we might not have, so for that reason everyone is investing his money where he thinks he can get most out of it.

CWC: Just this week, middleware vendor Tibco said its buying managed file transfer (MFT) vendor Proginet. Given that Software AG uses Proginet, is that going to affect the relationship?

KS: The technology that Proginet is a commodity in the IT software market. There are multiple possibilities to get this technology from other suppliers or we stay with Proginet. I think the Proginet software that we use does not help us to differentiate ourselves. It’s just a functionality technology you need when a customer requires it. So will speak with Proginet and see if they are interested to continue the relationship. If not, then we have to find an alternative which is no problem.

CWC: In the past couple of years, middleware vendors such as Tibco and IBM have been acquiring MTF vendors. Given that Software AG is a middleware vendor, what do you think of this trend?

KS: Data management is an interesting subject. Master data management is one element of this. We are cooperating with others whenever data management is a key functionality that is needed by the customer. You never cover all aspects of potential requirements, you always have to partners. And this is what we do in a number of areas as well. We own our intellectual property but we also partner wherever we make the decision from a strategic point of view not to acquire.

CWC: So Software AG will not be buying an MTF vendor?

KS: I did not say that. Anything is possible. It depends on the timing, the availability, the price, the alternative we have in partnering versus building. This is a moving target.

CWC: You mentioned during the Day 1 keynote that Software AG and IDS Scheer are a good fit, whereas there are some mergers in the IT industry that don’t make sense to you. Care to share which acquisitions you think are not a good fit?


KS: We will not comment on any mergers that others do. We have to look at the ones we make to ensure they make sense, that integration works and up till now we have been very successful in integrating the companies we bought.

Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @KathleenLau

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