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September 23, 2010

From BPM to RPM, Progress Software style

Jason Stamper talks to Progress Software's CEO Rick Reidy about green shoots of recovery, the acquisition of Savvion and Responsive Process Management (RPM) in a Q&A session.

By Jason Stamper

Q. Would you say you’re starting to see the green shoots of recovery amongst your customers?

A. Compared to last year, it’s way better. Compared to 2007/2006, none of us are back there yet. I don’t think any companies are.

Q: So tell me about the acquisition of BPM player Savvion – how your thinking progressed from, ‘We should be looking at BPM’ to ‘We should be looking specifically at Savvion’.

A: We had three or four big ideas and I knew, as a company, that for once we really needed to focus. So that led to a lot of planning, discussion, thinking, research. And the idea that really bubbled up to the top was this Responsive Process Management idea which, in the end, combines a bunch of our technologies, but the premier technologies are the Apama CEP [Complex Event Processing] Engine, the Actional Business Transaction Engine and the missing BPM component at that point, into one solution with what we now call a control tower – we think of it as a dashboard on steroids – sitting on top of it.

Q. Tell us a little more about the RPM vision. BPM as a discipline has often been something that you do when something else has failed, in many cases, and your vision now is for RPM to be much more of a strategic ‘This is where we’re going as an organisation’ not just ‘Oh, this is a small project, we’ll use BPM because we can’t quite get our SAP to work there.’

A. Let me describe the architecture and a bit of the technology but I’ll stress it’s not necessarily the way we sell it because we are very vertically focused – in the airline industry we’ll talk about operational or situational awareness, we’ll talk about flight operations, we’ll talk about surveillance in capital markets and so on.

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But let me talk about the technology architecture. BPM, CEP and BTM – Business Transaction Management – are considered separate categories by the analysts with separate products with separate sets of vendors. We’re the first company to have all three, an articulated, integrated vision of the three.

We look at three dimensions. There’s visibility, there’s sense and respond and there’s process improvement. Visibility into your business technically means going into a bunch of legacies, understanding the processes and events and transactions and being able to expose them so they’re visible to the business.

Then you have the ability to sense and respond to stuff as it occurs. And that too isn’t just events, it’s also the transactions. To sense a transaction flow is too slow, or for that matter, has stopped. You anticipate that it might stop and being able to deal with that before it does.

And then also in the business process, for a business process to be able to feed and react to a correlated sequence of events. So we’re taking the three main product technologies, BTM, CEP and Business Process Management, and taking events, process and transactions and actually sorting them together and saying we want visibility across all of these. So to us, the best architecture and best solution is to have these capabilities integrated where they’re all aware of each other – the BPM is aware of the Transaction Manager, the Transaction Manager is aware of the Event Correlator and so on.

Q. Were you also in the bidding for Lombardi [another BPM player, which was bought by IBM just before the Progress-Savvion deal was announced]?

A. Well, they were our partner so we were always in a close relationship with them. I wouldn’t say we got to the point of being in the bidding, where there’s an auction, but we were aware of their valuation expectations and also that there were other interested parties but we simply got enamoured of Savvion. You know, it makes me laugh: people asked if we bought Savvion because IBM bought Lombardi, but we had decided on Savvion long before I even knew IBM was buying Lombardi!



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