IBM Business Process Manager: More Than a New Coat of Paint

Today at Impact IBM announced their next-generation BPMS called IBM Business Process Manager v7.5. At heart it is the unification of WebSphere Lombardi Edition (fka Teamworks) and WebSphere Process Server. Some have called it just "a new coat of paint" on the existing offerings, because the (Lombardi) Process Designer and the (WPS) Integration Designer tools are both still there, and both runtime engines are still there as well. But that misses the point. Where IBM last year was pushing separate fit-for-purpose BPMSs - something nobody really wants - they now can offer a single BPMS that has the combined functionality of WPS and WLE.

Beyond that, this announcement represents a major shift in IBM's strategy for addressing the BPM marketplace. You might even call it a palace coup: the Lombardi/human/business-centric value system overthrowing the old WebSphere/integration/developer-centric value system, or even a BPM perspective rising above the SOA perspective. Given the existing installed-base investment on the two sides, this is truly a wag-the-dog moment.

Certain elements are now common to the Lombardi and WPS pieces: Process Center as the design-time repository comes from Lombardi. Business Space as the REST/widget-based end user environment comes from WPS. And certain elements are new: ILOG JRules now is embedded in the product. You can call a Integration Designer service from a Process Designer BPMN process, and you can include a Process Designer human task in an Integration Designer BPEL process. And here's the thing: it's ONE product. You get it all. Business-empowered design, what-you-see-is-what-you-execute, and instant playback. SOA and integration services. Powerful business rules.

I'm sure I'll have a list of complaints and woulda-coulda-shouldas at some point (such as: where's the BPMN 2.0 already?)... but for now, I could not have asked for more. Sure, we all expected this as the eventual roadmap, but I think everyone is surprised they got it done already.