Thursday, August 30, 2012

BPM market Growing Rapidly but still Maturing and changing

Why SOA is implemented by more enterprises than BPM
SOA is an Architecture, so an enterprise may use an Architecture or not. 
Many Enterprises without any architecture, begin their SOA initiative, when SOA was only Hype and buzzword. Other Enterprises followed when it matured. Some realized measurable SOA benefits. 
Unfortunately, many of them executed it wrongly, and therefore their SOA benefits were limited or even non-existent. 

Managing Business Processes is not an option it is a must. Therefore Enterprises managed their Processes manually or by usage of code embedded in Systems' Business Logic Layer.

It is difficult to convince them to change their Process Management practices by implementing BPM.
The company's management team may use the slogan: If it is not broken do not fix it.  

The significant value of BPM is not Business Process Automation. It is Business Process Change or Improvement or Flexibility.
In order to change a Business Process, usually you need to automate it before changing it. Therefore BPM benefits are Long Term benefits.

It is more difficult to convince managers to spend resources when the predicted Return on Investment and the predicted benefits are Long Term.

SOA is already a Mainstream architecture, while BPM is still a rapidly growing and evolving market in 2011 and 2012. 
According to Ovum's Research Note, published in December 2011 "BPM is a rapidly growing  market and high double digit revenues growth figures are very common among leading vendors profiled in this report". 

I recommend reading the full report written by Somak Roy and titled:Decision matrix: Selecting a Business Process Management Vendor. 

In this post, I will discuss a limited number of topics appearing in that report.

The Vendors
Ovum view is that there are twelve leading vendors. Ovum divides them to the following categories:

1. Shortlist: Appian, IBM, Oracle and Pegasystems

2. Consider: Tibco,Cordys, Active Endpoints, Newgen, AuraPortal 

3. Explore: SAP, EMC, Bonitasoft

There are new vendors in the list, replacing vendors appearing in previous similar Research Note.  The change of the leaders list could be a sign of limited maturity of the BPM market. 

Case Management  
According to Ovum, Case Management is a major Focus area for most vendors.
It is not surprising. Vendors solutions, as well as BPM implementations, begin with handling automated Processes (SOA Processes). The next phase is adressing Human Processes and finally the less structured Processes, i.e. Case Management Processes, are the focus area.

BPM is not the best fit for SaaS. BPM Engine infrastructure requirements are limited. Usually, BPM implementations invoke Systems and/or Services and the amount of code and data in them is minimal.
The main issue is Business Alignment, which has nothing to do with Cloud Computing
Ovum believes that Cloud Computing will not be the dominant delivery model.

Social Software Concepts
Social is trendy, so it is possible to find Social concepts in most of the BPM products. However, currently they are important mainly in Case Management context.

Open Source
Bonitasoft is the only Open Source vendor included in Ovum list. Intalio, the Open Source BPM traditional leader is not included. According to Ovum, most vendors did not mentioned it as a competitor.
If Ovum's view will be verified by other sources, then the emergence of a new Open Source BPM leader could be an indication of BPM immaturity. 

MY Take

  • The question: Which BPMS Vendors were not included in Ovum's analysis? is as interesting as listing and comparing the twelve vendors included. I was surprised that Software AG was not included. I usually find it among the Leaders in Gartner's Magic Quadrant and in Forrester's BPMS Wave.
I was not surprised at all that Microsoft was not included. Traditionally, Microsft's BPM products are limited. However, Ovum did not include any of Microsoft's major BPMs partners, namely OpenText (acquired Metastorm and Global 360), K2 and Agile Point.

  • Cloud based BPM could be a major deleivery model
I agree with Ovum view that SaaS delivery model is more adequate to CRM or HR applications than to BPM. However, SaaS Delivery model is a natural choice for Enterprises which use the SaaS delivery model for the majority of their systems (SMBs for the following years 5 years). 

  • Not all BPMs products were created equal
Some of the BPMs products included by Ovum and some of the BPMs products not included are Niche products. 
For some use cases they will be better fit than the Leaders or Shortlist vendors in Ovum terminology.

For example, Active Endpoints's ActiveVOS suite is excellent solution for Straight-through Processes
Fujitsu's Interstage could be a good fit for large enterprises especially in the Japanese market.
Even SAP's BPM suite is mostly used in Enterprises deploying SAP's ERP.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The mainframe: still alive and kicking

Recently, I was interviewed by Pcon (unfortunately the link points to an Hebrew only site) as part of debriefing on Legacy Systems. 

Pcon is an Israeli company investigating IT topics by quoting professional articles and interviewing experts.
They publish the results of the investigations including practical recommendations.
This post is mainly about topics raised by me during the interview, but not included in the debriefing, which will be published.   

What are Legacy Systems?
The term Legacy Systems refers to old application systems and/or veteran technologies still in use. 
Usually, the term Legacy Systems is associated with:

1. Mainframe Hardware e.g. IBM System z and its Operating Systems or Proprietary Servers and Operating Systems such as HP Alpha and OpenVMS Operating System, IBM AS/400 and OS/400  Operating System.

2. Development and Production Environments, e.g. COBOL, Natural and DBMS systems such as Adabas and IDMS executing on Mainframes or  Proprietary Servers infrastructure with proprietary Development and Production Environments.

3. Applications Systems developed more than ten  years ago executing in the infrastructure environments cited above using the IDEs and DBMS Systems cited above. 

It is true that often Infrastructure and Applications, cited above are Legacy Systems, however there are also Legacy Systems using other technologies such as Visual Basic version 6 or older, old Java technologies and old Windows Operating Systems or extincted UNIX Operating Systems. 
In this post i limit the term Legacy Systems to IBM Mainframe systems. 

Why investigating Legacy Systems?
The main reason is that these systems are used by many enterprises.
The systems are not only frequently used, they are used for Business critical Processes and Transactions and store and manipulate critical Data.  

The second reason is that these systems are no longer Mainstream, as far as new systems buying or building is concerned.

Young people knowledge of theses systems technologies, architectures and concepts is usually limited. 
The young generation is not ready to learn about these systems and prefer newer concepts and technologies. 
This is the third reason to investigate: limited availability of Legacy Systems skilled professional, which raise the question: why not migrating to other environments before lack of skilled professionals availability will be a crucial problem?

So why not migrating to other environments?
For some enterprises, the question above is a good question and the answer is positive they should migrate from Mainframes to other platform.

Other enterprises have good arguments for avoiding migration. 
The following list depict some reasons for not migrating:

1. If it is not broken do not fix it.

2. Replacing Legacy Systems by other systems is expensive and will take long time.

3. Probably, some of the team members should be replaced because they will not make the transition to a new system, new infrastructure and new methods.
The down side is losing their experience and their knowledge (especially non-technical knowledge of the Business, the Organizational Culture and the practices.).

Is it possible to identify those who should migrate and those who should not?
Yes it is. Size Matters. Usually Small Enterprises are better migration candidates than Large Enterprises.

Small Enterprises will not face Scalability issues and Performance issues.
They also pay more relatively to their size, because Mainframe Hardware and Software prices are skewed in favour of Large Enterprises. 
They will not have to hire a large number of people to support large number of Servers as Large Enterprises will have to. 

Large Enterprises usually operates more Application Systems and their Application Systems are more complex, so the migration will be prone to more errors and failures and will cost more.

Another discriminating factor is the Operating System.
Large Enterprises use IBM's Mainframe flagship Operating System z/OS. Some Small Enterprises use the declining z/VSE Operating System.
Some of the Independent Software Vendors stop support or new versions development of VSE software products. Other minimized their development efforts and current versions support.
The future seems even gloomier because the deteriorating VSE installation base.    

Is IaaS a Game Changing Technology?
IaaS looks like a game changing. Users of Operating Systems such as Windows and Linux can lower their TCO by moving part of the Data Center or the whole  Data Center to the Public Cloud. Mainframe users can not.

Most Large Enterprise will not move their Core Systems to a Public Cloud in the following two or three years, but SMBs are candidates for moving soon their systems to the Public Cloud.

This trend could be another catalyst for Small Mainframe sites to migrate to Windows, Linux or UNIX
However, IaaS also change another prevailed concept of running Infrastructure and Systems within the Enterprise boundaries, i.e. its Data Center or Data Centers.

The Public Cloud age, change this concept: You no longer need to own and maintain the physical infrastructure (very similar to the concept of not placing Electricity Generators in every house). 

Lower TCO based on getting rid from Data Center Servers is a challenge for Small Mainframe installations, but it is also an opportunity to save the migration efforts, by moving their Application Systems 
to a larger Mainframe user premises and lowering the TCO as well. Larger Enterprises can assign Virtual Mainframe Servers to Smaller Enterprises.   

Related Posts in my Blog
Mainframe and the Dinosauraus Myth Revisited
IBM z/Enterprise First Take: Data Center in a Box or Cloud Computing
Vendors Survival: Will Software AG Survive until 2019?

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