Business rules platforms are a mature technology for automating decision and policy logic and for managing fast changes to that logic to keep up with business changes. Now customers are seeking more: capabilities allowing them to employ business rules to help detect and respond to business events hiding in streams of data and to automate decision life cycles. This research reveals how well vendors are responding to these new requirements.
Application development and delivery (AD&D) pros are taking business rules platforms in two new directions. The technology's future will be determined in large part by whether or not customers can successfully apply it to business event processing and decision life-cycle management.
Business event processing applications answer the question "What activities are happening in the business now that I need to know about?" by searching for patterns and values within several streams of actively flowing data. The streams almost always represent information about the real world, such as customer activity in a casino, stock prices fluctuating in real time, or the location of transportation vehicles and the goods they carry. AD&D professionals often build business-events applications using complex event processing (CEP) platforms — some of which use rules to define event patterns. Other AD&D professionals use business rules platforms to build business-events applications. These overlapping uses set the stage for the convergence of CEP and business rules platforms.
After two years of vendor consolidation, which are the best business rules platforms for application development and delivery professionals to consider? In our judgment, based on growth rates, market presence, strength of product, and client interest, three vendors have risen to the leadership positions in this market, with two others coming on strong. IBM's ILOG has the strongest market position, but a surprising new alternative has gained strong initiative, and a one-time leader has lost momentum.
Although many application development and delivery (AD&D) professionals have experience implementing business rules platforms, Forrester's AD&D team has been receiving a continual flow of inquiries on this topic that suggests that clients want to know how the vendor landscape is changing and how those changes affect product choices. In fact, before evaluating a vendor's product features, clients consider the vendor's market momentum and the size of its customer base.
Our conclusion: The choices in business rules products have in fact changed, because the vendors have consolidated, expanded, and/or retrenched. Here is a picture of those changes:
As a result, the number of leading products has declined since we last evaluated business rules platforms. Some business rules vendors have expanded into other product categories. As a result, the decision to choose these vendors for a business rules product is more complex because business rules management is no longer their primary focus or their product sets include additional capabilities not directly related to business rules management. Within this category, there are: