From Middleware to BPM

I came across an interesting article online reinforcing some of my thoughts about the convergence of collaborative technologies. Specifically, how companies like Vitria, a business process management middleware company (EAI), are trying to leverage the work they’ve done in linking disparate applications together by moving into the services-based process-oriented application realm.

From Intelligent Enterprise:

If you’ve followed the development of business process management (BPM) over the last five years or more, you’ve no doubt been schooled to think in terms of end-to-end processes instead of applications. BPM systems are designed to knit together your application silos, offering an integration and management layer that bridges the gaps in interoperability and gives you visibility and control over the total process.

So why are a growing number of BPM vendors starting to talk about process-oriented applications? Isn’t that an oxymoron? Aren’t applications purpose-built, monolithic systems that are, by definition, less than end-to-end? And aren’t apps prebuilt, out-of-the-box products rather than homegrown processes documented, modeled and reengineered within and specifically for your enterprise?

Vitria apparently doesn’t see a contradiction in terms, as yesterday the company announced it would focus on providing "next-generation business process applications (BPA)." According to CEO Dale Skeen, these applications will "encapsulate the principles of EAI and BPM into a new type of packaged application–one that would actually map to a company’s business processes."

It’s no surprise that Vitria, Chordiant and others are moving in this direction, but you have to also take into account what is happening from the other direction: companies like IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle and expanding their product portfolios to make it so that you don’t need to go outside for critical business applications – go to a single provider for a complete suite of fully-integrated applications for the SMB or Enterprise.

There will always be a market for companies who believe in the best-of-breed approach to applications, whether for features or for competitive pricing, but by and large, companies will flock to the simplicity of the one-stop-shop.

Christian Buckley

Christian is a Microsoft Regional Director and Office Servers and Services MVP, the Founder & CEO of CollabTalk LLC, an independent research and technical marketing services firm based in Salt Lake City, Utah, and CMO of revealit.io, a blockchain-based video technology company.