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New Business-Process Software Includes Microsoft Integration

Metastorm's latest release includes Microsoft BizTalk technology.

Software company Metastorm Inc. Monday updated its software for business-process management, including closer integration with Microsoft's BizTalk Server.

Version 6.5 of Metastorm's e-Work software also includes a dashboard user interface designed to show performance charts and summaries to managers. Market research company Gartner projects that the business-process software market will grow from about $700 million last year, to $8.5 billion in 2008.

The latest version of Metastorm's software is the first to include a bundled version of Microsoft's BizTalk Server 2004. Users can compose rules that govern a business process from within BizTalk, which is frequently used for building Web services. The move allows closer integration between the rules and a rules engine in BizTalk, which generates Simple Object Access Protocol messages to carry out the business process. BizTalk Server is embedded in e-Work and can be started up inside the Metastorm application.

According to Metastorm CEO Robert Farrell, one of the company's strengths is including the ability to code exceptional situations into a process. "Our heritage is a people-centric model," he says. "If a key approver is away, there's been no response for 24 hours, then the process can be escalated to whoever is the stand-in." According to market researcher IDC, Metastorm, which was founded in 1996, generated revenue of $17 million last year, and sales grew by nearly 42%. Metastorm's customers include Barclays Capital, British Aerospace, Fiat, and the U.S. Army.

Business-process management is playing an increasingly important role as companies need to document compliance with laws such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and USA Patriot Act. One customer who employs e-Work for that purpose is Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., which has built processes using e-Work to ensure compliance with the Basel II Accord on credit-lending reserves. "We needed to collect data for three years on our customers before we can apply the [Basel II] formulas" that indicate whether the bank is maintaining proper reserves, says VP Rise Zaiser. In addition, e-Work generated business processes to check new customer accounts for compliance with the USA Patriot Act, she says.

Zaiser says the bank chose Metastorm because business users can frequently design most business processes. "We don't have to wait for someone to put together [Microsoft] Visio diagrams, put them into code, and then change it afterward."

Metastorm also this week said its new release includes reporting capabilities from Hyperion Solutions Corp. Other features of the e-Work 6.5 include support for the Business Process Execution Language. The company's software development kit currently support's Microsoft's Visual Basic and C# languages, but the company says a Java software development kit is coming in September.

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