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Forrester sees convergence of SOA and BPM

It's not your father's EAI: a Forrester Research survey finds vendors fusing SOA, BPM and related connectivity technologies into new product category. It also ranks the leaders.

BPM and SOA are converging to the point that the "integration suite" market category is obsolete and is being replaced by emerging "integration-centric business process management suite" (IC-BPMS), according to Forrester Research Inc.

Wider implementation of business event management (BEM) and complex event processing (CEP) will need to be implemented.
Ken Vollmer
AnalystForrester Research Inc.

The new category of software products focus on business process capabilities using the service-oriented approach to provide connectivity through Web services, as well as the ability to quickly build new composite applications to respond to changing market requirements, according to Forrester.

The products in the new IC-BPMS category are "not your Dad's EAI," Forrester analysts wrote in the report on the convergence titled, "The Forrester Wave: Integration-Centric Business Process Management Suites, Q4 2006 - IT View and Business View Tech Choice."

"The products in this category have lowered the barrier between integration and new application development — particularly, the development of composite applications that extend the mindset of the organization to complete, cross-functional business processes," write the report's authors, Forrester analysts Ken Vollmer and Henry Peyret. "IC-BPMS tools are uniquely capable of supporting model-driven, composite application development based on existing or captured business metadata stored in embedded, SOA-based registry/repositories. This approach supports high levels of system artifact reuse and can frequently result in dramatically reduced coding for new application functionality."

As SOA emerged in the past five years, vendors of the original EAI and BPM products have moved away from their proprietary technology to embrace a standards-based approach, the Forrester analysts say. In the past three years, this trend has been accompanied by a move to embedding the enterprise service bus (ESB) and BPM capabilities into their integration products, the report states.

While IC-BPMS may be maturing, the vendors products are not at the end point of where this technology is going, as two new business process capabilities are likely to emerge in the coming year, said Vollmer.

"Wider implementation of business event management (BEM) and complex event processing (CEP) will need to be implemented," he said. BEM and CEP are new technologies, which according to Vollmer extend business processing to a higher level of sophistication. Forrester defines BEM as "the process of capturing real-time business events from multiple sources and assigning them to the appropriate decision-maker for resolution based on the business context of the events." The analyst firm defines CEP as technology that "automatically correlates events into patterns that may represent a threat or opportunity and orchestrates an appropriate response."

Surveying vendor capabilities in the IC-BPMS category, IBM, Tibco Software Inc. and webMethods Inc. came out on top in a end-of-year assessment by Forrester.

webMethods is the leader in the overall IC-BPMS category, according to the report. Tibco was ranked high in the survey for its "traditional integration" technology and its tools supporting human interactions in BPM. IBM continued its leadership position in the assessment because of its combined BPM and SOA capabilities, according to the report.

Other companies showing strength in the IC-BPMS category included Oracle Corp., credited with "enhanced BPM features," according to the survey. Sun Microsystems Inc. made its first appearance in the survey thanks to the technology it acquired with its acquisition of SeeBeyond. BEA Systems Inc. was credited in making a "surge" in the category because for improvements it has made in its BPM and SOA technology. Software AG was also recognized for its "strong SOA features."

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Although they are not leading the pack, Microsoft and SAP are listed by Forrester as "strong performers" in specific market niches.

The Forrester survey notes that Microsoft is taking the road less traveled in the IC-BPMS space by relying on partnerships with other companies to provide BPM features, rather than including it in its own products as the leading vendors do. The report did credit Microsoft's BizTalk Server with providing "significant integration and B2B capabilities" for its customers.

While Vollmer notes SAP's lack of native EDI support, the report did credit the company's NetWeaver for its BPM and SOA features.

The survey conducted by Forrester in October and November included 35 vendors. Other strong performers in the survey were smaller companies including Cordys Inc., Vitria Technology Inc. and mid-market focused Magic Software Inc. Alone in a category called "contenders" is iWay Software Inc., which is credited with having a strong SOA focus but was limited in the BPM area, according to the Forrester report.

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