With IDS Scheer about to be folded into Software AG as soon as all the I's are dotted and T's crossed in the acquisition documentation, it seemed like a good time to catch up with the business process management software supplier. Georg Simon is Scheer's VP of Aris product and solution management and was on the board of directors of the former Business Process Management Initiative (BPMI). BPMI also went through a merger, having been folded into the Object Management Group (OMG) in 2005.
Georg's message was twofold.
First, although Scheer is being merged into its much larger German partner, its premier BPM product, ARIS, remains independent. He says Software AG/WebMethods wants to bring all ARIS partners along into its new relationship. He points out, for example, that although long-time leading Scheer partner (and that other German software giant) SAP competes with WebMethods, the two companies were also long-time partners. SAP's July 2009 announcement that it would stop "producing new versions of the SAP Business Connector," a license-limited version of the WebMethods Integration Server, might mean SAP has different plans. But clearly the intention is coopetition.
Whatever way SAP breaks, it is clear that in the debate over BPM point product vs. BPM suite, both Scheer and Software AG are big proponents of having it your way. The answer to making that work is standards and that is why Georg's and Scheer's involvement with BPMI/OMG is important. Even though something is often lost in the standards-translation process, the past efforts mean ARIS and WebMethods work together right out of the gate and the new company will work to make that connection even better once the merger is official.
Second, there is ARIS' position in the "BPM in the stack" vs. "BPM a la carte" debate that was raised again earlier this month by the acquisition of Lombardi by IBM.Georg had an interesting perspective on that debate and it follows the "have it your way" philosophy. He believes there will always be a need for separate components (in all aspects of IT, not just BPM). He recognizes that the integrated solution is smoother, but results in "lock in." Implicitly, he is saying you have to decide which way you want to go. But he says whatever your answer, the new Software AG with WebMethods and ARIS can provide it.
In other words, he re-emphasizes that Scheer may no longer be independent but ARIS still is. To that end, his products increasingly are promoting the idea of "BPM for the masses." He sees ARIS enabling BPM for very occasional users and not just for IT and power users. To that end, he has recently launched ARIS Express and ARIS Community, a product and information for those who might touch BPM only once or twice a year. Express is free to try out, so if you need some experience in BPM modeling, try it out.