BEA nabs red-hot BPM player

Acquisition of Fuego will add business process management fuel to SOA

For many enterprises, SOA remains stuck at square one. It’s one thing to play with Web services, but another to create an agile architecture that spans an organization. Such grand initiatives typically require leadership on the business side, which often has trouble understanding SOA.

Perhaps that’s why BEA purchased Fuego, a leading BPM suite vendor, for $87.5 million last week. The graphical process modeling that Fuego’s suite offers provides a terrific way to sell infrastructure agility to business analysts, such as those employed by Fuego customers British Petroleum, JPMorgan Chase, and Southwest Airlines.

The problem is that BPM doesn’t mesh with the Web services underpinnings of SOA, so the pretty BPM flow charts are disconnected from the rapid composite app dev that underlies the business agility promise of SOA.

The addition of Fuego to BEA’s AquaLogic line will result in a “unified SOA-based platform,” said BEA CEO Alfred Chuang. But Bruce Silver, an independent industry analyst, calls that unification into question, although he acknowledges that the acquisition of Fuego and its suite provides “instant credibility” for BEA in the BPM space. “But architecturally it seems an odd choice, because Fuego does not use BPEL [Business Process Execution Language] or even compose processes by orchestrating Web services, and BEA’s WebLogic Integration does.”