BEA System's March announcement that it had acquired business process management (BPM) vendor Fuego came as little surprise. For starters, BEA last year acquired portal vendor Plumtree, which was using Fuego's technology. More important, the move fit a trend toward the pairing of BPM with service-oriented architecture (SOA) infrastructure technologies.
Fuego's process automation software will become a part of BEA's AquaLogic SOA product family and, in announcing the deal, BEA described BPM as "the fastest growing segment in the SOA infrastructure market." BPM pure-play vendors might bristle at that description, but BEA follows in the footsteps of other leading vendors that now address both technologies. Examples include IBM, Oracle, webMethods and TIBCO Software, the latter having acquired BPM player Staffware. Some vendors are partnering to address both needs, such as SOA vendor Software AG and BPM vendor Fujitsu Software.
"I'd say 75 percent of our deals are tied to SOA," says former Fuego CEO John Lauck, who has joined BEA. "For most large corporations, processes are part of a larger SOA strategy."
SOA and BPM are clearly complementary, but if companies are thinking about BPM, should they force IT to embrace SOA? "They should certainly embrace a services orientation within their business process architecture," says BPM expert Derek Miers of Enix Consulting. "Processes need to be flexible, which means ensuring that it's possible to call subprocesses as distinct, standalone process fragments. Key to this is ensuring that processes and the technology underpinnings are insulated from each other, and this is where SOA comes into its own."
— Doug Henschen