Analysis: When SOA and Process Management Merge

Software AG's Crossvision release asserts that service-oriented

"You got services in my processes," says business to IT. "No, you got processes in my services," replies IT. As the old Reese's peanut butter cup ad would have it, maybe these two technologies belong together. That's what Software AG is asserting with today's announcement of Crossvision, an SOA suite that lets enterprises "leverage existing assets and create new business processes."

When Software AG and Fujitsu announced a partnership last year, the emphasis was on cross-selling the former's Legacy Integrator (Web service wrapping), Service Orchestrator (enterprise service bus/orchestration) and Enterprise Information Integrator (EII) software as well as the latter's Interstage BPM software. Now that the two firms have completed their jointly developed CentraSite registry and repository, Software AG seems intent on blurring the lines between SOA and BPM.

"Our overarching approach is about process-driven integration, with BPM as the context for SOA," says David Vap, Software AG's vice president, business integration solutions. "We find that nine times out of 10 when a discussion with a customer is only about SOA, it's a case of technologists getting caught up on buzz words." Process management conversations, on the other hand, are about putting services to work, he says.

It's inevitable that there will be a move toward blended "registories," says Vap, because SOA and BPM initiatives demand the combination of registry and repository functionality as they grow. CentraSite stores all the models (execution, service, wrapper and so on) on a SOA layer in a common place and creates linkages between them, creating a control point and automatic update capability that tames service anarchy, Vap says.

Plenty of BPM vendors demean SOA as "just plumbing," but Vap fires back that standalone BPM will go away because "there's too much resistance to adoption if you don't have the SOA piece."

It doesn't need to come from one vendor (and in the case of the Software AG/Fujitsu partnership it really doesn't), but SOA and BPM are truly an inseparable combination. The key qualities to look for are robust and automated service management controls and tracking capabilities, as a start.