As my twitter feed starting warming up with thoughts on IBM and Sun I started to think – what impact would this have on the decision management market? I read what Steve Hamm had to say over on BusinessWeek – Why IBM Wants Sun and Tony Baer’s IBM buying Sun. Why Bother? But decision management is a different business to the more general purpose considerations.
The biggest hole in IBM’s platform from a decision management perspective is its lack of a real predictive analytics component. Cognos does not yet have a true, executable predictive analytics approach nor is there any integration with the ILOG Rules components. Some work with SPSS has recently been announced but whether this will do more than deliver predictive reporting, or indeed go anywhere, is not yet apparent. Indeed, from a decision management perspective, an IBM acquisition of SPSS would be much more dramatic and useful.
Sun does not seem to offer very much to IBM from a decision management perspective. Some of their products, like the mobile development tools, might be interesting in combination with IBM’s emerging decision management capability but it does not seem to add much value over just collaborating.
Now Sun might help IBM move into cloud computing more aggressively and this could be interesting from a decision management perspective as I think decisions as a service or decisioning in the cloud could be a major driver for decision management adopter.
On the negative front there are already worries that IBM’s Java focus might derail the interesting work ILOG has been doing on .Net business rules (blogged about in this piece on IBM and ILOG). Clearly an acquisition of Sun could only intensify the Java focus so those of us concerned about multi-platform support for rules would worry anew.
So, on balance, an IBM-Sun merger would not shake the decision management marketplace whatever else it does.