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Issue Date: March 2007

Microsoft unveils business process alliance

March 2007
Tony Baer

Seeking to bring business process management to the mass market, Microsoft announced an alliance designed to coalesce third-party BPM vendors around BizTalk Server, Office 2007, and the recently unveiled Windows Workflow Foundation.

Seeking to bring business process management to the mass market, Microsoft announced an alliance designed to coalesce third-party BPM vendors around BizTalk Server, Office 2007, and the recently unveiled Windows Workflow Foundation.
Microsoft also announced that it will be adding support for BPEL, the Oasis web services standard for process orchestration, in the upcoming release of BizTalk 2006 r2 Server, for which a community review is expected shortly and general availability anticipated for May.
Initial members of Microsoft business process alliance include BPM vendors Ascent, IDS Scheer, Global360, Metastorm; rules engine providers Fair Isaac, InRule, and RuleBurst; workflow vendors PNMsoft and SourceCode Technology Holdings; and SOA run-time governance provider AmberPoint.
The announcement is about several things. First, that Microsoft is drawing a critical mass third-party ecosystem to support its process orchestration and workflow engines, and secondly, that it will simplify and commoditise BPM in much the same way that the OLAP extensions to SQL Server did with business intelligence software.
Although the announcement laid out a technology roadmap for WF and BPEL 2.0 support, it was really about go to market.
Most of the initial partners already have products that are based on Microsoft .NET technology and already link with BizTalk. Consequently, the fact that these providers will support .NET 3.0 features, such as the Windows Workflow Foundation, or that they will also adhere to BPEL 2.0, are not exactly surprises.
For instance, Global360 is a 20-year old firm that got its start from the document-oriented workflow days of 20 years ago. Its offerings, which include Insight360, an analytic product, and Process 360, the BPM offering, have been based on Microsoft technology for at least the past decade or more.
AmberPoint, which already has an OEM agreement where a ‘lite’ version of its SOA run-time management tool is already bundled with Visual Studio 2005, views the new Microsoft BPM program as the chance to cement ties with the BizTalk side of the house.
Before, their tool could monitor service orchestrations to and from BizTalk Server as a black box. With the new BPM Alliance link, it can now peer inside BizTalk, much as it already does with Tibco's Active Matrix service grid and Reactivity's XML firewall (which was just acquired by Cisco).
For Fair Isaac, the Microsoft BPM alliance provided an opportunity to integrate with BizTalk that the company would have done anyway. The company, which offers the Blaze Advisor business rules management tooling, offers .NET and Java-based development and deployment environments. The idea is that they are tied to the same back end engine, which is built around a relational database.
"We sell a lot of .NET apps, so we wanted to partner with Microsoft, just as many BPM vendors have," said James Taylor, vice president of product marketing. He added that the company also maintains tight relationships on the Java side, where its rules engine is embedded in webMethods Fabric SOA product.
Consequently, the alliance is primarily around go to market and entrenching Microsoft technologies as the de facto standard for deploying human workflows or automated orchestrations of machine to machine processes.
Source: Computergram


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