Governance is at the heart of Software AG's strategy to become a billion Euro service-oriented architecture (SOA) software vendor by 2011.
The plan unveiled by Software AG this week blends governance software it developed with Fujitsu Ltd., with the ESB and BPM technology it acquired with the its purchase of webMethods Inc. in April, plus policy products webMethods got when it bought Infravio Inc. last fall.
Explaining this complex fusion at a Webinar for analysts and journalists on Monday, Ivo Totev, chief marketing officer for Software AG, said the prominence of governance in its future SOA software offerings was based on experience with customers.
"We have recognized from previous projects that customers do not look any more just for infrastructure," he said. "They are looking for ways to structure their approach to projects for technologies that improve processes. SOA governance becomes very important when you think about what is the right structure. What are the responsibilities of the individuals and teams? How do they work together? How do they communicate? All of that is very much at the core of our offering, not only SOA tools, but very much something that is built into all the products."
Basing its governance offering on the joint technology Software AG developed with Fujitsu under the CentraSite brand will provide a governance suite that Totev characterized as "independent" and "neutral." A new edition of the CentraSite product integrating Infravio technology is scheduled to be released Sept. 1.
"We have chosen to carry on the CentraSite brand for the joint SOA governance platform," Totev said. "The reason being that we have many customers who have invested heavily in heterogeneous environments -- BEA, SAP, Tibco, Oracle -- and they look for us as a neutral provider for SOA governance solutions. This is why we have chosen to have an independent brand here, which demonstrates our neutrality."
He said the integration was made easy because both the Software AG and Fujitsu technology and the Infravio product were based on the Java API for XML Registries (JAXR) standard.
Offering a brief history of the governance suite, he said, "Software AG together with Fujitsu has been developing an SOA governance platform called CentraSite. This platform was available in two editions the enterprise fully featured edition and community edition which was available to customers for free. At the very same time webMethods had acquired Infravio, another strong SOA governance offering. What we will do is combine the best of both worlds and have a very good service registry, a very powerful policy repository and the capabilities to manage SOA artifacts and metadata will combine all of that into one platform. The beauty of standards is that both Infravio and CentraSite are based on the JAXR standard. So exchange of metadata becomes very, very easy."
Around the CentraSite governance core, all the other SOA related products including the enterprise service bus (ESB) and business process management (BPM) products will be marketed under the webMethods brand. Totev acknowledged that the acquisition of webMethods was as much about market presence as technology. To achieve its ambitious goal of becoming a major global SOA vendor, Software AG, based in Germany and known largely as a European company, needed the webMethods customer-base and name recognition in the United States, he said.
Following Monday's Webinar, Jason Bloomberg, senior analyst with ZapThink LLC., was guardedly optimistic about the company's chances of success after listening to Totev's presentation. The analyst was impressed with Software AG's emphasis on governance.
"They lead with SOA governance, which is an important priority for them to have," he said. "Another key strength is that their ESB vision focuses on a mediation version and an orchestration version, two capabilities that are more critical to SOA infrastructure than simple integration is. Also, their business process tooling is unsurprisingly quite strong, as both companies had good, SOA-capable products in this space going into the merger."
As for the German-based company's ability to sell itself in the American market, Bloomberg sees that as being more problematic although not undoable if Software AG can successful blend its culture with the Virginia-based webMethods and California-based Infravio.
"Perhaps their greatest challenge, although it's too early to say it's a weakness, is pulling the cultures together so that they can be strong in the US market while remaining strong in Europe and elsewhere," Bloomberg said. "In the past they have been 'too German' in many ways to do well in the US, so we'll have to see if the new webMethods blood can tone this down."