IBM Puts Spotlight on Lombardi at Impact

Not a lot of BPM news out of IBM at Impact this week. The most surprising thing for me about it is how thoroughly Lombardi - acquired just a few months ago - has enthralled the WebSphere executives. At the opening keynote, WebSphere GM Craig Heyman called Lombardi Teamworks, rebranded IBM WebSphere BPM Lombardi Edition, "the core BPM product." Really?

And at today's keynote session, Beth Smith, another top WebSphere executive, devoted the only demo of the session to a conventional walkthrough of Lombardi BluePrint and Teamworks, I mean WebSphere Lombardi Edition. Nothing anyone who follows BPM hasn't seen for the past couple years from Lombardi, but to the WebSphere execs this technology seems nothing short of amazing. The ironic thing about it is that the process discovery tools and BPMN 2.0 editor in IBM BPM BlueWorks and WebSphere Business Compass - brand new, and tools aligned with the real WebSphere BPMS - are actually better than Blueprint, not to mention free. But no mention of them.

Don't get me wrong -- I love Lombardi. It's far easier to do what IBM calls "interactive process design" with Lombardi than with WebSphere Business Modeler and WID. For human-centric processes where interactive design concerns trump SOA, it's certainly a better choice than WebSphere Dynamic Process Edition. But in several small group sessions with the analysts, it's clear that IBM is nowhere close to articulating an intelligent positioning of its two BPMSs. As Sandy reported, IBM has a 10-question worksheet that often winds up recommending you need both of them. Great.

Unlike Oracle's immediate announcement of a BPM roadmap after it acquired BEA, IBM does not appear to see any urgency in announcing a roadmap for Lombardi within the WebSphere family. I doubt they even have one yet. In my view, merging Blueprint and Compass/BlueWorks tools is a no-brainer. Each has a lot to like, and a common process discovery toolset supporting interchange (roundtripping please!) with both WDPE and Lombardi is an obvious first step. But I don't expect to hear anything about this very soon.