Software AG updates webMethods BPM suite

Software AG makes good on webMethods buy, also unveiling a new ESB and a supply chain performance optimization tool

Software AG plans to unveil details of Version 7.1 of the webMethods business process management suite on Wednesday, along with a new enterprise service bus (ESB) and a supply chain performance optimization tool.

When Software AG bought webMethods on June 1, it set ambitious targets for integration of the two companies' product lines. This is the first update to the webMethods BPM suite since the merger: Version 7.0 was launched late in 2006.

"They are making quite good progress, considering there's a lot to integrate," said Jason Bloomberg, a managing partner of IT analyst firm ZapThink.

Among the BPM features that Software AG plans to unveil are simulation tools for testing the performance of new business processes, preconfigured performance indicators for management methodologies such as Six Sigma, and business calendar integration tools. Those allow the automatic offloading of certain tasks into workflow scheduling systems such as Lotus Notes or Exchange when human intervention is required, said Peter Kürpick, president and chief product officer of the webMethods product line.

WebMethods is also getting its dose of "Web 2.0" technology: a new "tagging" feature will allow users to give the objects involved in business processes recognizable names, rather than those chosen by the program's developers or by systems integrators.

"You can have one central instance and different ways of expressing it," Kürpick said.

"This is particularly important when you go into a vertical market," he said, citing health care as an example where software tools borrowed from business might refer to "customers," but users would know them as "patients."

Other new software elements include a business activity monitoring tool, Optimize for B2B, designed to give suppliers or customers a view of the supply chain, and the enterprise service bus with support for SOAP 1.2, WS Security, and WS-I.

Software AG is already testing webMethods 7.1 with a few customers and will demonstrate it at the Integration World 2007 conference in Florida in early November. The software will be made generally available by the end of the year, Kürpick said

The company has also been working on its services-oriented architecture (SOA) management and governance tools. It has taken the policy management tools from webMethods' Infravio line and its own CentraSite metadata store, combining them as CentraSite Governance Edition. It will unveil details of that product at the SOA Governance Summit in Copenhagen next month.

With its focus on the webMethods BPM suite, Software AG will no longer sell its Crossvision BPM line, actually a rebranded version of Fujitsu's Interstage. Its goal is to help customers migrate to webMethods over the course of several years, during which it will continue to support the discontinued product. However, "customers are not yet lining up for migration," Kürpick said.

This is one area where there's no rush, though, said ZapThink's Bloomberg: the majority of Crossvision BPM customers also use Software AG's Natural programming language and Adabas database, and they have no reason to leave the company.