Call it "coopetition" or consolidation without acquisition. In the end, it's about being more than just a pure-play piece in a crowded business process management (BPM) market that's increasingly being sized up by the largest vendors. I'm talking about Fujitsu Limited's recent strategic alliances with Software AG and IDS Sheer, respectively. Both announcements go far beyond mere marketing partnerships. Yet neither of the proud German vendors is giving up its sovereignty, nor is the $45-billion Japanese technology giant staking huge new investments on its future in BPM.
In the first deal, announced last week but in the works for eight months, Fujitsu and Software AG have agreed to jointly develop, sell and support a product that will combine Fujitsu's Interstage Business Process Manager BPM software with Software AG's Legacy Integrator (Web service wrapping), Enterprise Service Integrator (enterprise service bus
[ESB]/orchestration) and Enterprise Information Integrator (EII) software. The joint product will be released by summer, though each company will still be free to sell its existing products independently.
As Intelligent Enterprise reported in its February cover story, "Agile to the Bone," service-oriented architecture (SOA) is a crucial underpinning for BPM initiatives, enabling rapid process adaptation in response to changing business conditions. Studies show that more than half of all Web services developed are created to support business processes. In this light the deal makes sense, because Software AG's technology is all about supporting enterprisewide SOA initiatives and integration. The partners say they'll be able to deliver a unique combination of capabilities, including a shared metadata repository for human-to-human business processes, machine-to-machine orchestration and data/metadata integration.
"Unless you have a shared metadata repository, you can't see all the repercussions when you make changes," says Software AG executive David Vap. "Let's say you have a legacy back-end system wrapped with services, but you're considering replacing it with ERP. If those services are used in 22 different processes, how do you understand what workflows are impacted? If you have all the metadata in one place, you have a map of the process interactions and can decode all the interrelationships more easily."
Fujitsu's second strategic partnership, announced early today, is an integration of its BPM suite with IDS Sheer's ARIS Toolset for business process design and ARIS Process Performance Manager for business process monitoring and analytics. These design, monitoring and analytics capabilities fill in gaps in Fujitsu's suite. And in a similar arrangement to the one forged with Software AG, both companies will sell and support the integrated product.
Fujitsu, Software AG and IDS Sheer each have market strengths in different industries and countries around the globe. Fujitsu has a stronger presence in the Pacific Rim, generally, while the two German companies hold considerable marketshare in Europe. Worldwide, however, the alliances are aimed at setting all three vendors apart in a market that is moving toward larger players such as IBM, Oracle, BEA and SAP, the last being an existing IDS Sheer partner. By 2008, 30 percent of the BPM market will go to application platform vendors and another 25 percent will go to enterprise application vendors, Forrester Research predicts, while BPM pure plays and integration vendors will each take 20 percent of the market.
— Doug Henschen, Editor, Managing Content