I got a briefing last week from IBM as part of my researching of the IBM/ILOG acquisition (I blogged about this here). Back when I was at IMPACT it became clear that IBM was getting focused on events, rules and policies – they talked about Points of Agility, points in a business where variability is critical to success. Rules, analytics, business events and policies were all identified. While today’s briefing could not cover any future plans, I did get an overview of IBM’s current relationship with ILOG.
IBM has been partnering with ILOG for over 10 years in various parts of IBM. When IBM made the 2005 announcement of their SOA stack for WebSphere, including WebSphere Process Server, this relationship was stepped up a notch. IBM’s architects had a vision of the importance of business rules within the process and within the broader application development environment. Within WebSphere Process Server is a Business Rules Manager with some rules capabilities for rule sets and basic decision tables. This is designed to strengthen the value proposition around abstraction – with a BPEL engine, human task management support, state machines and business rules to deliver abstraction. This was always designed to support external rules management products, especially when a customer needed end to end rule management and support for the whole business rule lifecycle. The partnership with ILOG has been designed to make this straightforward. A couple of other areas of partnership include:
- The original WebSphere Business Events product and the acquisition of AptSoft put a focus on business user tooling is targeted at agility. I blogged about a joint IBM/AptSoft presentation when I was at IMPACT
- The Information management group, especially in the context of enterprise content management and FileNet – considers business rules a complementary technology for document-centric process management. I wonder what IBM is thinking about in terms of rules-driven case management?
- Master Data Management – InfoSphere MDM – is very complementary with business rules.
- Tivoli (and Business Events) uses ILOG’s visualization product
- IBM’s Center for Business Optimization is using ILOG’s new optimization stuff (Optimization Decision Management) as well as CPLEX
I blogged recently about the role business rules has to play in IBM’s SOA methodology and my conversation today simply reinforced my view that IBM was already taking business rules seriously when it announced the ILOG acquisition. I look forward to finding out more as time passes.