Beyond BPMS: Changes Afoot as Organizations Move to SOA

Loraine Lawson

Gartner is considering dropping its Business Process Management Suite Magic Quadrant. No more "Who's who in BPMS." And possibly, in its place, the research firm is investigating whether it should shift focus to either Business Process Platforms or Integrated Composition Environment.


The mere whisper of a change in the Magic Quadrant was apparently enough to cause pandemonium in the BPMS space.


Intelligent Enterprise ran both an interview with Gartner analyst Janelle Hill and a blog item on this news today. Apparently, some smaller BPMS vendors are pretty ticked at the possibility Gartner might abandon BPMS, since they feel large vendors -- IBM, SAP, Oracle and the like -- would benefit from the shift away from BPMS and toward business process platforms.


So, who cares what Gartner calls its Magic Quadrants? You buy what you need and move on, right?


Sure. For now. But don't be too quick to dismiss this issue. In fact, the pieces are well worth reading because they show you where all this "services stuff" is headed.


As the interview with Hill explains, this is not just about how Gartner labels things or its Magic Quadrant. If Gartner should stop publishing the BPMS Magic Quadrant, it'll be because it's noticed a real shift in the business world in terms of what customers want and what vendors are offering.


The interview with Hill takes a closer look at what each of the terms in play: Business Process Platform (BPP) and Integrated Composition Environment (ICE). As it turns out, both are a natural outgrowth of the adoption of service-oriented architecture.


As SOA evolves, supposedly organizations will evolve from developing code and building applications to creating services and then using them, Lego-style, to "compose" business processes. Remember that word -- composing -- as it's key to this whole BPP/ICE thing.


Hill defines BPP as "an architecture in which businesses run their processes on a platform of automation." It sounds a lot like the business companion to SOA: After IT "converts" to services, BPP is how business will compose those services in new ways to quickly respond to changes in the market.


You won't buy a BPP. Like SOA, every BPP will be different, depending on what your organization does and needs, though I suspect this will be confusing to people, just as SOA is confusing, especially since the term BPP already has been applied to vendor-specific solutions. (According to Joe Wilcox at Microsoft Watch, BPP was first used by SAP to describe Netweaver and adopted last year by Microsoft.


As I read it, ICE is not so much a competing concept as it is a subset of BPP. ICE is the environment in which you do that composing.


Here's the interesting part. According to Hill, this is where you determine who owns the composition:

"What you put into that environment depends upon who you want to be the composer. Should that be an IT professional or business people or a mix of the two?"

Buy an ICE from a (former) BPMS vendor, and business users will be able to compose.


It's an obvious evolution from SOA, but so far, this is prediction. Gartner still has to make up its mind about that whole BPMS Magic Quadrant thing. And given how few organizations have deployed the magical 50-services mentioned in the article as needed for composition, we're still a long way away from either BPP or ICE.

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