Active Endpoints Strengthens Its Development Environment With ActiveVOS 8.0

Active Endpoints announced the release of ActiveVOS 8.0 today that provides several features designed to enhance the productivity of application developers. Key improvements include:

  • Enhanced support for BPMN including swim lanes, features for improved integration of external events, and improved support for unstructured processes within the BPMN framework
  • Data access services that provide direct access to data sources
  • Improved deployment features
  • Single sign-on support

This is another example of how a wide range of vendors including IBM, Oracle, Microsoft, Software AG, TIBCO, Progress Software, and many others are providing fully functional application development IDEs that can drastically improve developer productivity. This model-driven approach to application development is no longer bleeding edge. And the latest BPMN 2.0 enhancements cover a wider range of potential requirements.

Is your shop using BPMN-based development tooling? What has your experience been? Please share your thoughts by commenting on this blog or dropping me a line at

IBM Finalizes The Acquisition Of Sterling Commerce

You may have been on vacation and not noticed, but IBM received final regulatory approval to acquire Sterling Commerce on August 27th.  This will likely lead to significant enhancements in B2B capability for IBM and Sterling Commerce customers.  Here's our guess as to what you can expect from an integration product perspective:

  • A more functional B2B integration software lineup. IBM customers will have access to Sterling Commerce technology that supports comprehensive features for monitoring and managing partner and suppliers. They will also have access to a range of supply chain applications that Sterling Commerce has deployed in several vertical industries like automotive, manufacturing, retail, and distribution.
  • A cloud-based integration environment. Both IBM and Sterling Commerce customers will likely have increased options for implementing cloud-based integration based on the robust B2B network that IBM now owns and the integration appliance options (Datapower and Cast Iron) that are also available. Expect a major thrust in this area.
  • Upgraded SOA capability. Sterling Commerce customers will find it easier to implement SOA capabilities using the strong capabilities that IBM can bring to bear in this area.

Stay tuned for more details. We'll be getting formally briefed on this subject in a couple of weeks (once the IBM/Sterling Commerce team have completed their product road map), and we'll pass on the details at that time.

As always, I'd be interested in your thoughts about this acquisition. Please send me your comments to or just comment directly to this post.

DOJ Approves GXS And Inovis Merger

As of today, June 3, 2010, GXS (the largest B2B service provider in the world) and Inovis (number 3 in overall size) will begin operating as one entity under the name of GXS. The combined GXS entity will now have more than 40,000 B2B customers and will provide effective competition to the planned IBM/Sterling Commerce operation (which still needs regulatory approval to proceed). Sterling Commerce will remain the second-largest B2B service provider after GXS. The high level of M&A activity in this sector highlights the growing importance of B2B service providers in meeting the full range of enterprise needs that span end-to-end business processes that reach beyond the corporate firewall. Expect more M&A activity in this sector during the coming months.

IBM's Plans To Acquire Sterling Commerce Will Trigger More B2B Consolidation

Situations like this typically need a single vendor to take the first step, and then others follow. In this vein, we believe that IBM's move to acquire the 2nd largest B2B service provider in the world will get others (like Oracle, Software AG and TIBCO) to consider similar moves. Why? If you are a vendor that provides internally focused application and process integration solutions, the next logical step is to provide comprehensive B2B integration solutions to address the full range of the integration needs of your customers. That means B2B solutions that go beyond support for Web services and AS2-based EDI/INT transactions.

The vast majority of enterprises that are involved with B2B activity still rely heavily on 3rd party B2B networks for the movement of their EDI transactions. Many of these firms have large trading partner communities that have proven to be highly resistant to change where the prevailing attitude seems to be, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." The fact of the matter is that B2B networks will continue to play a key role in meeting overall enterprise integration needs for the foreseeable future.

Another factor that we believe drove IBM's decision is the emergence and growing importance of cloud-based SaaS integration solutions. These applications require a hosting environment, and the Sterling Collaboration Network is tailor-made to fit this new requirement. IBM will now have its own B2B network to support this growing market. There are many other interesting aspects to this proposed acquisition. For details, refer to our just-published document entitled "IBM To Acquire Sterling Commerce":

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No Half-Stepping: IBM Re-Enters The B2B Service Provider Market In A Big Way

This morning IBM announced that it has reached an agreement with AT&T to buy its Sterling Commerce division for $1.4 billion. This is a true win-win situation with both parties gaining something valuable. IBM gets a functioning B2B network with 18,000 customers and a strong selling and fulfillment product line while Sterling Commerce gets access to true SOA capabilities via the WebSphere product line. There are real opportunities for synergies here. IBM is re-entering a market that it exited in 2005 when it sold its IBM Business Exchange Business to GXS, the world's largest B2B service provider. More on this later. What's your impression? Drop me a line at



Sybase Acquisition Won't Plug SAP's Integration Gaps

Today's announcement that SAP will acquire Sybase is a major event in the software world, but it will not fill key gaps in SAP's integration capability.  If the $5.8 billion deal goes through SAP will gain strong mobile integration and database features, but the existing shortcomings of NetWeaver PI in the areas of application and process integration in heterogeneous environments remain. 

NetWeaver is a credible solution for integration challenges between numerous SAP business applications, but it has proven to be inadequate for solving integration between SAP apps and apps from other sources (both home grown and other commerically available business applications).  The Sybase acquisition does not alter this fact.

For a deeper look into the challenges faced by SAP customers when trying to rely on NetWeaver for their non-SAP integration needs, refer to our May 5th document entitled, "It's Time To Tame The ERP Integration Beast".

As always, your thoughts are welcome.  Drop me a line at



Comparing ESB and Integration Suite Functionality

One of the more common questions we get from clients is about how to decide between enterprise service bus (ESB) and comprehensive integration solutions (CIS's) for meeting integration needs.  The answer will depend on the type and depth of your integration challenges.

Forrester defines ESB's as:

"An intermediary layer of middleware through which a set of reusable business services are made widely available."

These services typically include features for supporting multiple levels of connectivity, a wide range of mediation services (including dynamic provisioning capability), lightweight orchestration and multiple features for supporting change and control aspects of the ESB's behaviour.  The model below provides more details on the specific features.

The ESB Reference Architecture Model

ESB Reference Architecture Model

ESB's are a great starting point for enhancing integration capability and in many cases, this level of technology is all that many enterprises need or can afford.  For a deeper discussion of ESB features, check out my March 26, 2010 document entitled, "The ESB Reference Architecture Model".

In a similar vein, Forrester defines CIS's as:

"suites of tools that provide a broad array of capabilities for supporting internal and external integration requirements including enterprise application integration (EAI), B2B integration (B2Bi), and integration-centric business process management (IC-BPM)."

It is important to note that CIS products all include ESB features at their core as shown in the architecture layer of the following picture:

The CIS Reference Architecture Model

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One Size Surely Does Not Fit All...

I'm continually reminded of the tremendous diversity of enterprise technology needs. As analysts, we tend to focus on the "latest and greatest" developments, but the reality is that many enterprises are not ready to digest the latest technology solutions. In fact, I would submit that premature attempts to implement leading edge technology can cause serious problems and should be avoided. 

How do you know if a technology update is premature?  Look to the business side of the house.  Are there major business pain points that cannot be addressed by the current technology?  If so, IT should be looking to implement new capabilities.  However, lacking new drivers from the business side, maintaining the status quo might not be that bad of a strategy. 

In the past six months I've spoken with several $1B+ enterprises (some greater than $5B) that are achieving good business results using batch-oriented technology with the most sophisticated software being ETL tools.  Hardly leading edge, but the important point is that it works. 

Think of the need for advanced technology as a continuum.  At one end you have financial institutions using logarithmic trading and high-tech manufacturers relying on real-time supply chain operations.  At the other end of the spectrum you have many retailers and others still living in a batch dominated world. In between you have players in many other sectors with highly variable needs that rely on both real-time and batch processing to meet their requirements. 

Don't expect this diversity to disappear anytime soon. 


The Forrester 2010 Integration Alternatives Update Is Now Available

Our annual evaluation of application, process and data integration solutions is now available on our Web site; "2010 Update: Evaluating Integration Alternatives" by Forrester analysts Ken Vollmer, Rob Karel and Noel Yuhanna.

Here's the executive summary:

"Just as in 2009, technical innovation and merger and acquisition (M&A) activity have continued to have a significant impact on the integration space. The most common trend has been the expansion of existing

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It's Open Season In The Integration Space!

During the past month there has been a rash of acquisitions/mergers announced that will have a direct impact on many integration software and service providers. First let's look at the details.

IBM's announcement that it will acquire Lombardi tops the list with the highest potential customer impact. The IBM WebSphere stack is widely used and the Lombardi acquisition will provide stronger human-centric BPM features to what is already available to IBM customers. Look at Clay Richardson’s blog for more specifics on the IBM/Lombardi deal.

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