IBM Upgrades Modeling Tool

New version of WebSphere Business Integration Modeler adds integration with Microsoft Visio and IBM development tools
IBM last week upgraded a software tool for modeling business processes with technology from a pair of acquisitions it made two years ago.

Version 5 of IBM's WebSphere Business Integration Modeler lets business analysts gauge the impact of variations of a new business process. For example, an analyst could see the impact of reducing the response time to an online customer query, such as checking inventory to confirm a product is in stock. The quicker response might be better for the customer but could load up the supplier's inventory system with traffic it can't handle, says IBM product manager Debbie Moynihan. Also for the first time, Modeler can import business-process models from Microsoft Visio.

The new capabilities reflect IBM's purchase of software companies Crossworlds Software and Holosofx two years ago, says Mike Gilpin, a Forrester Research analyst. Products from those companies have now been blended into WebSphere Modeler 5, providing the new capabilities. "IBM is creating a single unified stack" of what had been unrelated products, he says.

IBM's upgrade of Modeler is being used by the Star Alliance airline network, a group of 15 airlines that includes Lufthansa, United Airlines, and U.S. Airways, to build models of shared business processes that can be used across member companies. The Principal Financial Group is using the software to build processes that span multiple offices, IBM says.

The software also lets the business processes it creates run in different environments. For example, a business process can be handed off now to the IBM Rational XDE integrated development environment, and can also run in WebSphereMQ Workflow, the product in IBM's WebSphere line that integrates a business process into a set of automated and human interactions. Processes can also run in WebSphere Business Integration Server Foundation, an integration platform across Windows, Unix and Linux.

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