KANA platform rides SOA, allows user modeling with BPEL

A platform for customer services applications from KANA allows business user modeling to speed creation of applications. IBM partnered with the firm to place a BPEL-savvy engine atop a SOA foundation.

A platform for customer services applications from KANA seeks to place modeling tools in the hands of business users to speed creation of applications. The goal is to better empower the business side. Company representatives say an underlying dedicated service-oriented architecture infrastructure implementation helps make this possible.

This week, KANA announced availability of the KANA 10 platform for customer service system management. Online travel service provider priceline.com is said to be an early adopter.

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"We are creating a modeling tool that is very focused to business users," said Keith Goldberg, KANA vice president of Product Marketing. That is more important these days, he indicated, as the individual products that corporations offer can change faster than internal applications can be built to support them. Without business user involvement, IT can become a stubborn obstacle to flexibility.

Still, IT has an important role. IT builds the services.

"BPM does not happen overnight," said Goldberg. "You still have to have good process captured in tools." Companies must have models built-out before they can streamline processes, he indicated.

KANA's approach, as with other recent BPM approaches calls for end users to do more of the business model building. But it relies on a solid SOA foundation.

"There are folks that have been waiting for killer apps for SOA. I think KANA 10 can be one of those showcase apps," said Allen Bonde, CMO of KANA subsidiary eVergence. "In a way people have been waiting for a platform like this that is an example of what you can do with SOA. This is the kind of application you can build on it."

As part of the updated KANA platform, a Service Experience Modeler combines workflow creation, screen building, and business logic construction, so that no coding is needed to link a process to knowledge and back-end data. A Service Experience Orchestrator presents end-users with the most relevant information at each step of a customer interaction, and this can dynamically alter based on changing requirements, according to KANA.

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Inside, KANA 10 implements a BPEL engine. The new platform was developed in conjunction with IBM, using that company's SOA portfolio to address the specific needs of the customer services industry segment. IBM and KANA (as well as its services arm, eVergence) are co-selling and co-supporting this offering.

As in other moves of late, the objective of the KANA 10 platform it to reduce the tension in the ancient tug-of-war between IT and the business side. If it lives up to its billing KANA 10 appears to land deftly on both sides of that divide.

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