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Tuesday, April 12, 2011 by Neil Ward-Dutton
Yesterday at IBM’s IMPACT conference in Vegas, the company announced the release of Business Process Manager 7.5. At first glance, Business Process Manager might look like a simple updating and blending of two overlapping toolsets (the former WebSphere Process Server/Integration Developer combo, and the former WebSphere Lombardi Edition platform). Indeed other commentators have pointed to this release as “a new paint job”.
However when you look deeper, the release of Business Process Manager marks a significant departure for IBM, and warrants a thorough reappraisal of IBM’s competitive position.
We’ll be publishing a new in-depth report in the next couple of days: in that report we’ll be laying out how the whole thing fits together. In brief, though, what’s happened is that IBM has pulled the two technology offerings together around a unified repository and governance toolset – Process Center. This is former Lombardi technology; however now it delivers its capabilities across Process Designer (the former Lombardi design environment) and Integration Designer (the former Integration Developer). IBM has also created a single unified deployment runtime foundation that hosts integration flows, ESB microflows, business rules and business processes, together with a unified administration environment. The two design environments remain separate, aimed at different audiences – but integrated through the Process Center repository.
Whereas until recently IBM pitched Lombardi technology and WebSphere Process Server / Integration Developer as offering the same capabilities but for different scenarios, Business Process Manager makes the relationship clear: Process Designer is aimed at business-facing teams collaborating to optimise business processes; Integration Designer is aimed at IT teams working to orchestrate the integration of systems to support the optimisation of those processes. Again – these two environments work together through the use of a shared repository and governance toolset.
For the last few years, although it’s too much to say IBM has been swimming against the tide of BPM technology development, the company has certainly struggled to break away from its historical roots in delivering a BPM technology offering – the offering overall was primarily skewed towards the needs of software developers and architects.
With the release of Business Process Manager, IBM has absorbed the Lombardi DNA. Business Process Manager demonstrates a vital clarity of purpose in IBM for its customers and prospects, and should give those companies improved confidence that IBM has its story straight. What’s more, the promotion of former Lombardi technologies and design approaches to be front-and-centre in shaping the new Business Process Manager offering makes Business Process Manager stand out in terms of ease-of use.