Software AG’s

Embracing a new paradigm
of business technology or buzzword bingo?


Software AG is addressing an overdue industry pain by their
latest announcement of a social process community. The network will connect
skilled BPM resources to the demand at customer sites. Many large customers have
purchased a BPM platform and realize that they own a kind of fast sports car
but are struggling with the fuel supply. The constant evolution of process
models is the mileage that requires skilled experts to charge BPM, Business
Event and Business Rule Management models constantly. How to find the right
people who have really expertise in the various BPM systems and even more
important – have the required domain expertise? You can search already the social
networks for certain skills of freelancer. However, it’s relatively difficult
to understand anybody’s real knowledge before you have work with a certain
expert. Alignspace address this issue and allow individual contributors to
share process models and prove their experience form earlier projects. Partnerships
with the existing social networks like Linked-In and Xing and local freelancer
databases are now on the top priority to bring Alignspace to life. Maybe the
huge resource pools at offshore providers will jump of this idea.


The social process community is a clever move from Software
AG putting all ingredients of today’s technology and hype together. Although
the page claims beta functionality, there is no functionality available to a
broader user group today. Software AG promised a vendor neutral community but
missed to recruit an initial set of founding members. They have not disclosed
details on the engagement model between vendors. Customers who are trying to
understand the new community, are searching for the modality to join will be
disappointed at this stage.


A Social Process Community could go beyond Alignspace. Is
there even a motivation for customers to share business processes? Software
AG’s large enterprise customers run a lot of individual business processes and
legacy applications. Some of them are considered as intellectual property and
competitive differentiator. They never share any of those on a social process
community. However, there are a lot of contextual standard processes in addition
to these core processes and obviously it is not efficient to implement them
from scratch on their process platform. Until now, most customers ran ERP
systems and use some standard modules to supply these context business
processes in addition to their customer business process landscape. www.alignspace.com could be a
breakthrough to share standard business processes in an open source style from
one customer to the next. This would move more and more standardized business
processes from the ERP vendors to the middleware vendors’ process platform. The
customer’s challenge will be to sort out carefully their core differentiating
and secret processes from the commodity stuff that can be shared without
loosing any value.


Announcing cloud based services in the Alignspace marketing
shows is unnecessary buzzword riding. Actually Software AG stated to Forrester
that no process execution environment will be offered under the Alignspace
brand, which would relate to the massive scale-out of runtime environments
characteristic to cloud computing. Other vendors offer already such a cloud
based productive business process environment as a service such as Cordys with its
Unfortunately Software AG has not disclosed any partnerships with such Process
as a Service or Platform as a Service (PaaS) vendors so far. This would really
show commitment to the vendor neutral approach. It’s also open which kind of
process models Alignspace will understand. Is it only BPM in the traditional
XPDL/BPMN/BPEL segment, or will there be more abstract models like IDS’s ARIS
models available that does not map directly to executable models. Or might it
be only a dump PDF/PPT file? And don’t forget the Business Rules, Event pattern
and UI components that could be shared. For those models that are directly
executable, a link to PaaS platforms would be desirable.


Altogether Software AG raised the expectations high but
keeps the initial invest limited. They want to listen to customer reactions
first. Hopefully they get enough market feedback on their blog and personal
feedback to meet real market expectations.


Stefan Ried