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Five Key Questions About the IBM-ILog Deal

With apologies to Gertrude Stein, there's not enough "there" there in the business rules management system market, what with only a handful of players, but yesterday's announcement by IBM that it will acquire ILog will certainly spark aftershocks. I came across a few particularly keen questions from a former industry insider...
With apologies to Gertrude Stein, there's not enough "there" there in the business rules management system market, what with only a handful of players, but yesterday's announcement by IBM that it will acquire ILog will certainly spark aftershocks. I came across a few particularly keen questions from a former industry insider.

To go straight to the source, I first spoke to an ILog exec yesterday who shared this bottom-line assessment of why the timing for this deal: "The market is maturing, and business rules are taking a legitimate position in infrastructure," said Jean-François Abramatic, Chief Product Officer. "It's clear now that business rules are an essential part of business process management/services-oriented architecture platform."Assuming the deal goes through, and it should, there will surely be a number of aftershocks due to ILog's numerous partnerships (including OEM relationships with SAP and Oracle around the ILog CPLEX optimization technology).

James Taylor, a former Fair Isaac executive and co-author of last year's influential book Smart (Enough) Systems, does a nice job of boiling things down in this post. Particularly thought-provoking are these five questions:

• To Business Process vendors like EMC or Software AG relying on ILog's rules product - do you want to rely on IBM for this component of your offering? If not, what are you going to do? • To platform vendors like Oracle, Microsoft, Salesforce.com - what's YOUR rules strategy? If IBM and SAP have one, you probably should also. • To Business Rules vendors like InRule, Corticon and Fair Isaac - do you want to be part of someone's platform (if so, who) or do you want to be a decision management product? Decide quickly… • To vendors building on IBM's platform but not using ILog's rules - do you think WebSphere customers will expect to have all their rules in the ILog product once it is integrated? I do. • To customers using anyone's rules product - are you clear on the difference between business rules in business process management, business rules in an SOA platform and business rules as the basis for true decision management? If you aren't, maybe you should call me...

I, too, am curious about that last question, so I'm thinking of attending the Enterprise Decision Management Summit set for October. Co-chaired by Taylor and Intelligent Enterprise contributor Neil Raden, it promises to provide plenty of insight on state-of-the-art blendings of business rules management, data mining, predictive analytic, optimization, SOA-based composite application environments, and business intelligence and performance management platforms.With apologies to Gertrude Stein, there's not enough "there" there in the business rules management system market, what with only a handful of players, but yesterday's announcement by IBM that it will acquire ILog will certainly spark aftershocks. I came across a few particularly keen questions from a former industry insider...