Continuing my series on the opportunity for IBM now it has completed its acquisition of ILOG, I wanted to discuss multi-platform support in the ILOG BRMS. This is an issue because there is an apparent tension between IBM’s behavior over the last few years and ILOG’s:
- IBM is seen as a very Java-centric company
IBM’s recent focus has been on Java-based products and support for Java-centric development. Products like WebSphere Process Server and WebSphere Business Events are built on Java and IBM’s developer tools like Rational are focused on developing Java applications
- ILOG has been moving beyond its Java roots
ILOG has a COBOL version of its BRMS as well as a sophisticated .Net product with some very nifty integration with Microsoft Office to bring rule management to business users.
As IBM absorbs ILOG it will be important that it continue to invest is this multi-platform approach. Not only are there some nice features in the .Net product (that I for one would like to see available to the Java product) but decision management with business rules is, for most companies, a multi-platform problem. The value of using business rules to decision management comes in part from making sure the same rules are used everywhere they are supposed to be used. While deploying business rules in Decision Services on SOA makes this easier, the best solution is to allow the rules to be packaged up and deployed as Java components, Web Services, .Net assemblies or COBOL code so that they can run natively on all the platforms that run the business.
I hope, and expect, that IBM will continue to invest in all the ILOG BRMS platforms not least because of the potential for business rules in legacy modernization. But that’s a topic for another day…