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October 25, 2012updated 19 Aug 2016 9:28am

Q&A: Progress’ CTO on the company’s turnaround

Progress Software had been offering a broad range of application development, deployment, integration and management tools as well as BPM and events processing, until incoming CEO Jay Bhatt announced the firm will sell off 10 non-core products and in so doing lose up to 15% of its staff. Earlier this month Bhatt announced that he is leaving the firm, and a replacement is being sought. But here EVP and CTO Dr John Bates talks about the implications for the technologies that remain

By Jason Stamper Blog

Dr John Bates

Dr John Bates

Q. After all that talk of Responsive Process Management [RPM] the message has now changed, and it’s all about the OpenEdge platform, decision analytics and so on. But weren’t some of the products tightly integrated and quite reliant on one another?

A. We had to unpick some interdependencies, although everything was designed to be able to stand on its own. What we are saying is that we can still do decision analytics, for example, but instead of working with the Savvion BPM [business process management] we can use it against anyone’s BPM.

Is it fair to say some of the OpenEdge customers felt that RPM was taking focus and investment away from the product they are customers of?

I would say yes, there were some who felt that we had taken our eye off them a little. We could have done more to communicate the vision. But there were others who were excited about the way RPM brought new opportunities to OpenEdge.

As executive vice president and CTO, what would say are the imperatives for Progress technologies going forward?

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We have five imperatives. It needs to be ready for the cloud; we need mobility and location-aware applications; we need big data in the sense we need to connect to the data and do real-time analytics. Fourth is being able to support social media and do sentiment analysis and fifth is building a community. It needs an ecosystem, sharing best practices. We need to ramp up our efforts there and make it a real community.

And how well do your remaining technologies meet those criteria today?

Well OpenEdge supports the cloud, on-premise and hybrid. We may add extra [programming] languages and the ability to automatically deploy to mobile. With Apama and Corticon we can add in those capabilities of being real-time and location-aware. DataDirect is a cloud driver – you essentially talk to their cloud which is connected to every application, from to QAD to Facebook to Twitter.

But if what you are suggesting isn’t RPM as you used to call it, what category does it fall under? We both know the analysts like to put things in a certain category so they can draw a Magic Quadrant or what-have-you.

I think Gartner is calling this Intelligent Business Operations. Roy Schulte at Gartner talks about BPM-oriented applications or an operational intelligence approach.

You’ve described OpenEdge as Platform as a Service [PaaS]. Will you also sit applications of your own on that, either that Progress writes or its ISV customers write, with some sort of deal struck between you?

We won’t just have a platform but also reusable modules, for example a sentiment-tracking module or a location-aware module that sends an offer or an alert to a potential customer when they are near a certain store – that kind of thing.

I know OpenEdge enables your ISV customers to create cloud-enabled apps. But will you offer OpenEdge in some sort of Software as a Service way to those customers?

We don’t currently offer OpenEdge as a service. We will do, probably next year. But already, 20% of new customers [of OpenEdge] are building SaaS applications.There’s a huge opportunity helping our OpenEdge customers get to the cloud.

Related: We were holding serve, not attacking: a Q&A with Progress’ CEO




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