Saturday, August 24, 2013

IBPMS: BPMS Leader Software AG attempting to lead in IBPMS

Less than a year ago I wrote a post titled: BPMS Next Generation: IBPMS. The post is about Gartner's new Magic Quadrant of IBPMS, which is very different from previous Gartner's BPMS Magic Quadrants.
Only three Leaders left in the IBPMS Magic Quadrant (IBM, PegaSystems and Appian) due to a new Use Case: Intelligent Business Process Operation (IBPO). 

In the MyTake section of the post I wrote: "Expect changes in Immature markets like IBPMS".
Vendors which are no longer Leaders will try to improve their position in this emerging market. 

Tibco acquired StreamBase SystemsStreamBase Systems is a Complex Event Processing and Real Time Analytics company.

This post is about Software AG a former BPMS Leader.

a brief history of Software AG BPM History

2006 - The company released a SOA and BPM suite. The suite was developed together with Fujitsu
As far as BPM is concerned, Software AG used, Fujitsu Interstage branded as Software Ag product.

2007- Software AG acquired WebMethods
WebMethods BPM and WebMethods SOA products replaced most of Software AG's SOA products. The leading Centrasite Registry which was developed by Software AG and Fujitsu and Software AG's Mainframe SOA products remain as part of the company's offerings.

2009 - Software AG acquired leading Business Processing Analysis vendor IDS Scheer. IDS Scheer's ARIS is the strategic Business Process Analysis tool since the acquisition.
For more information read: Vendors Survival: Will Software AG Survive Until 2019?

Software AG Intelligent Business Operation (IBO)
On June 13, 2013 Software AG acquired from Progress a Complex Event processing company named Apama.
Apama is a mature CEP platform complementing current Software AG's CEP product acquired in 2010.

On August 22, 2013 Software AG acquired JackBe and announced its new Webmethods Intelligence Business Operation Platform.

JackBe's Real Time Business Intelligence products and Mashups products will play a key roll in the new platform.

Illusion: WOA and The Lego Blocks Model
It is not the first time that building IT systems by End Users without coding is only a dream or illusion.

Generating a complete System by transforming a Model to Code by using CASE tools was an illusion. 
The Model, build by System Analysts, could be useful and could provide code skeletons, but not a complete System.

Rule Based Engines are also useful. The dream of End Users defining Business Rules  (by using a simple friendly interface) which are transformed by a Rule Based Engine to a complete system, was the mission of the First Generation. Rule Based Engines of the following generations were more realistic: You can generate only parts of the Application from Rules defined by End Users. You can not avoid coding (or buying) the other parts.

Building complete SOA systems by End users by combining Web 2.0 and SOA was less ambitious than the CASE and Business Rules Engine first generation because programmers has to code the Business funcionality. However, it was an illusion as well.

The idea was to tie SOA Services and Mashapps the Web 2.0 analog to SOA Services. 
Robustness, Security, Change Management, Performance Management, Scalability, Availability and SLA are SOA Services requirements. Non of them is applicable to Mashapps.

An Enterprise Service Bus could connect the two worlds, preserving Services Robustness and Mashapps ease of use.

The leading vendors of the WOA-SOA Lego model were IBM, BEA and JackBe.

Image Source: JackBe
A failure of the WOA-SOA Lego Model is negligible for a giant like IBM. It is very easy to name 100 or more products, which are more important to IBM. 

Large companies like IBM take into account that some of their ideas and solutions will fail. 
As long as the failing solutions are not strategic and are not money makers, they can "swallow the bitter pill".

For a kiosk like Jack Be it is a threat on its Survival, because the SOA-WOA Lego Model is strategic. 

Jack Be leveraged its ability to collect easily and in a friendly way, data from various sources. Its flagship Presto product was changed to unique Real Time Business Intelligence product.

Finally, there was Happy End to JackBe's story; It was acquired by Software AG.

You can read Software AG's Press Release about JackBe acquisition as well as the launch of Real Time Analytics Platform for Intelligent Business Operation.

You can easily understand JackBe's products importance, by reading the following quote from Software Ag's announcement.

"JackBe will serve as the foundation for Software AG’s new webMethods Intelligent Business Operations Platform. The platform will provide customers with an integrated, real-time awareness of dynamic operations and processes via easy-to-use visualizations. The resulting improved response times and increased quality of business decisions will support decision-makers in achieving better business outcomes".

Vendors Survival: Will Microsoft Survive Until 2023?

Image Source: Wikipedia

Steve Ballmer is stepping down as the CEO of Microsoft. You can read Wired article titled: Balmer's Department From Microsoft 10 years Too Late, in order to understand that the last 10 years were not a great success for Microsoft.

It is a good opportunity to go back to posts I wrote many years ago, when many people viewed Microsoft as non-vulnerable company.

For example, a post I wrote in 2008 was titled: Vendors Survival: Will Microsoft Survive until 2018?
The post included Reality Check of my 1995 presentation titled: Will Microsoft Survive until 2005?, as well as analyzing new Risk factors. 

Read other related posts appearing in the following list:

Will Microsoft Survive until 2021?

Will Microsoft Survive until 2021? - Revisited

Microsoft's Skype acquisition: Warning Signs ahead

Read also a less related post titled:

Bug 2000 (Y2K) is back in Microsoft's Azure

The next step is deciding for yourself: Will Microsoft Survive Until 2023?

My Take
The answer is not a Yes or No answer. It is a probabilistic answer.

The probability of Yes is still higher than the probability of No, but do not ignore the No as possible answer.

It is too early to tell, if the new CEO could change the non-Innovative giant company to more Agile Innovative company.

Even if he will, it will be a long and difficult Organizational Culture change process.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Information Technology: Are you out of business if your age is above 50?

Many Information Technology professionals, aged 40+ or 50+ has no job and the task of finding a new IT job is at least very difficult task.

As far as the reason for this difficulty, is concerned, there are variety of opinions.

I participated in a popular discussion in Linkedin Group "Israel High Tech" about  High Tech veterans work.

The arguments for hiring veterans
The arguments for hiring veterans were that they have experience, Business Knowledge and Technical skills (or at list many of them have these skills). They will not quit their job for another job and they are willing to do any assignment, even if some years ago they were Managers.

If this is the case, so the reason for not hiring them is Agism e.g. Age Discrimination.

The arguments for not hiring veterans
The arguments for not hiring 40+ or 50+ aged workers, were that they simply are not qualified.
Their knowledge is not up to date. 
For example, a Manager who would like to hire Linux Kernel experts, said that he would higher 50+ people properly skilled for this task. However, he find no one.
He added that if those who are talking about Agism could send him a 50+ Linux Kernel expert's resume he would properly hire him. 
The conclusion of those supporting this view is Agism is not the reason for not hiring 50+ High Tech experts. It is simply a matter of better skills, abilities or lower salary of younger people. 

My Take
I am 62 years old having about 40 years experience. As an Information Technology expert, I worked for companies and many years as a Freelancer.

Many young and especially elderly IT professionals have expertise in a certain IT field e.g. Java development, ITIL, C# etc. Good professionals excel in their field and learn and update continuously. 

My approach is different. I excelled in one field, namely IBM Mainframe MVS and z/OS Operating Systems, but after many years in that field, I studied many other fields.
I was able to generalize the principles and methods to many other IT fields.

My selling point is the ability to learn quickly and understand quickly any new Technology, Architecture, Paradigm or Methodology.

Service Oriented Architecture is a good example. I was exposed to this concept prior to most of the IT professionals in Israel, while working together with a team of experts from other country. They shared their opinions and Service based Framework.
After listening to them, I learned anything I could learn about SOA. When SOA evolution crossed the Hype stages, I was better prepared than others because I begun to learn and experience SOA a year or two prior to most other IT professionals in my country. 

In the following section, I depict a special technical assignment I completed successfully as a 50+worker.
I would outline in red colour factors and behavioural aspects which are age related.  

The assignment
A client asked me to help him in fixing Assembler code problems in a tailored extension to his z/OS Operating System (Jes2 Exits). I was lucky many 50+ IT professionals do not even get the chance to work.

According to her description, after any Operating System upgrade, they have to preform minor code changes. It always worked properly. This time, none of the exits is performing its tasks properly after those minor changes.

Before taking the Challenge I had to consider, if I should take the assignment or not.

I had to take into account two major factors:

1. For about 25 years I did not read and I did not write, even a single Assembler Line of Code
No doubt, I could do it easily 25 years or 30 years before. I code a lot more complicated Assembler supplements to the Operating System.

I was no loner with Hands On as far as Bits and Bytes are concerned. 
A failure in completing the assignment properly was a possible scenario.   

Some of the 50+ IT workers were not able to preserve their Hands On skills, because their current jobs are less technical or due to Paradigm Shift or Technology Change their technical expertise is less relevant or obsolete.

2. It was a Fixed Price assignment. 
Even if I will not fail, I properly work a large number of hours to complete the task.
Young People usually complete assignments more quickly, unless Experience is an important factor.

I decided to take the Challenge.

Solving the Technical Problems

I did not begun my work, by looking at the code. I read IBM Manual. 
It did not take long time to discover, that there is a cause for "nothing is working as expected". 

It was simple: Unlike other upgrades in this version IBM made significant design change to the JES2 and to its Exits structure and mode of operation. 
MY approach is typical grey haired people approach. A young expert would probably try to fix the code first.
After few days of failures he may check the manuals

My assignment was changed from minor code changes to designing a solution based on the new mode of operation and Exits structure. 
After designing, I had to code a lot more than minor changes.

Coding and Debugging
I coded slowly, because I had to verify that I was reducing the number of bugs to minimum. 
Whenever something went wrong, I assumed that I made a mistake and tried to identify and solve the bug

I faced two difficult debugging issues, which I spend a lot of time in order to solve:

Problem 1: who is to be blamed for  the Bug?
You already know my answer: I am to be blamed.
However, after reading the manuals again and again and verifying that I am 100% compatible with the explanations and the syntax described in the manuals and after testing any possible scenario and after analyzing the code again and again, I finally concluded that I did nothing wrong. 

It should be a Bug in IBM's Operating System. The local technical support group insisted that it is my fault. They could not find what was wrong. 

I gave them all the tests scenarios and results. In one scenario my code was perfect, but in a slightly different scenario it failed.
It looks like someone in IBM missed the less frequent scenario or at least made a coding mistake in this scenario. 

When the Data was send to the Development Group they confirmed my claim. It was IBM's Bug. I also received a circumvention which solved the problem, until they fixed it. 

A Young Technological expert would have conclude a weak or two earlier that it is IBM's Bug. He would save a weak or two. 
Bear in mind that in most cases it is a customer's Bug and not a Vendor's Bug, therefore in many other cases a young expert would waste a lot of time:  He would conclude that it is a vendor's Bug and apply to the vendor. The vendor will check it for a weak or two or a month or two months and the answer will be: "No Bug found".

Problem 2: Young Technical professionals would love that Bug
This Bug was in a very complex routine. 
As it was working properly for about 20 years, I assumed that the Data Exception is my Bug and that it is outside that routine code.

I found nothing. I asked someone having a lot of experience to help me. He found no Bug. 
After two Weeks I looked for out of the box solution.
I considered the possibility that although, no code was changed in the complex routine something changed.

Like most of other problems, after solving the solution is simple: It was a combined effect of an old times bug (Which was always in the code) and the design Changes made by IBM.

The bug was in an instruction for moving data from one location in the computer memory to another.

The instruction is fixed length instruction, which moves always 8 bytes. However, someone forgot this and code the length. Assembler is a low level Programming Language. The 8 coded in the instruction was interpreted as adding Register8 content to the address defining the data location. 

No harm was caused because Register8 always contained zero. Adding zero to an address will result in the same address.

After the design change Register8 contains a non-zero value, which was added to the memory address, causing the Data Exception.

Grey Haired professionals have no advantage over Young experts in solving such problems, unless they faced similar problem in the past.  

The Bottom Line
Young people have advantages over 50+ people, but 50+ years old people have their advantages as well.
It comes down to an individual question interacting with the specific assignment: One 50+ man or woman could be an excellent choice. Another could be a waste of time and money. It it also true for 25 years old professionals: one could perform a task perfectly another would fail to provide any value. 

There are tasks that are more adequate for experienced Grey Haired. Young people will generally, be a better fit for other tasks.

Would someone hire me for Linux  Kernel assignments? probably not. I have no knowledge and no experience. 

Would I be able to perform properly Linux  Kernel assignments?
I think I will be able to do this. 
I will need to spend a long time to learn it (and no one will be willing to pay for this time).

But after I complete learning it, my experience in MVS Nucleus changes in those old days when MVS was immature, could count.  

Fortunately, I do not need (Financially) and I do not want to code Linux Kernel.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Oracle Fusion Applications: Dead End? new Strategy? or Business as Usual

More than ten years ago I presented in a local ERP conference in Haifa.

I am not an ERP expert. I was invited to present because I worked as a self-employed consultant for GiGa Information Group, which was acquired in February 2003 by Forrester Research.  

Instead of presenting non-expert's presentation, I preferred to tell the audience that I am presenting Giga's Analyst's Byron Miller's presentation.

Miller's presentation was interesting. He described three ERP states, depicted in the simple image above. I built a simplified image based on his classification.

The current state, in 2002, was Suite state. transformation to the other states requires advancements in Technical Integration and in Semantic Standards.

The harder task is Semantic Standards, therefore different ERP states are applicable for the same level of Technical Integration.

Suite state, in which you have to chose a single ERP vendor solution, is the less desired state. According to Byron Miller's analysis the probability of this state is the highest. 

Vendor Ecosystems is a state in which it is possible to replace a vendor's ERP/CRM components, by its business partners' components because they comply to the same Semantic standards. 

The most desired state is New Best of Breed World. In BOB World state you can intermix any ERP vendors components because all comply to the same Semantic standards. However, the probability of this state is the lowest.

The transition from Vendor Suite state to more advanced states, was part of ERP and CRM vendors' stategy to change their ERP Suites to SOA based or Service Based Architecture. The main advantage of SOA based ERP is Agility and  flexebility.

Oracle and ERP suite status
Probably, Miller did not think that his 2002 analysis will be still relevant to Oracle's ERP in 2013.

Oracle Fusion Project is an Endeavour aiming at advancement from Vendor Suite (many Suites in Oracle's case) state to Vendor Ecosystems.
The Project begun on 2006. 

Oracle Fusion Applications was released on 2011 and used by Early Adopters.

After it was released, I wrote a post titled: Oracle Fusion Applications Respect and Suspect

Mark Fontechio wrote in PeopleSoft Planet Site that Oracle Fusion Applications is ready but are the users ready? I suspected that it was not ready yet. 
I also predicted that Oracle's Peoplesoft users, Siebel users, J.d. Edwards users and other Applications products (acquired by Oracle) users, will finally have  no choice and migrate to Fusion Applications.

I was wrong and Mark Fontechio was right. The Customers are not ready yet.
The bad news are that nobody can tell if they will ever be ready or when they will be ready. 

According to readwrite's Anton Gonsalves, a Forrester Research's report, titled: Oracle's Dilemma: Applications Unlimited Versus Oracle Fusion Applications, found that most of Oracle's client have no plans to migrate to Fusion Applications. Forrester's survey of Oracle's clients found that "65% has no plans to move to Fusion Applications and another 24% were on the fence."

Many customers think that if it is not broken do not fix it, i.e. they are satisfied with their current PeopleSoft, J.D Edwards or Siebel Applications.

As far as those who are not satisfied are concerned, 
"29% were planning to move to another vendor's SaaS Applications or Packaged Applications", due to high maintenance costs and difficulties to upgrade. 

Oracle's Dilemma
Oracle spend a lot of resources during its 7 years Fusion Applications effort. Should it continue to support it concurrently with multiple applications support or should it change its strategy?

According to Forrester's report,  a new unifying strategy could be SaaS based strategy.

SaaS based strategy has limitations as well. 

My Take
The probability that a big Endeavour will fell is a lot higher than the probability that smaller projects fail.
This conclusion apply to Application Developemt, as well as to Vendor's products development.

Longer development period is a recipe for failure. 
Five years from 2006 to 2011 is a long period.

Oracle's new anouncements of Oracle 12c database including built in Multi-tenancy and Cloud Computing partnership with Microsoft, and Netsuite indicates that Oracle would like to become a significant Cloud Computing player.

Will it try to build a Cloud based Vendor Ecosystems? It is to early to tell.
In my opinion oracle's Cloud Computing efforts ,at least for the Short Term, will not replace the current Fusion strategy, but coexist with it.  

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