webMethods Debuts BPM and Governance Tools in Fabric 7.0

Business Process Management (BPM) and Service-Oriented Architectures (SOAs) are integrated into a single platform.

EAI provider webMethods Inc. had a busy year in 2006. On Dec. 22, the Fairfax, Va.-based company shipped version 7.0 of its flagship webMethods Fabric suite. The 7.0 release followed a year of acquisitions as the company put key technology in place for its BPM/SOA platform.

While many enterprises still view Business Process Management (BPM) and Service-Oriented Architectures (SOAs) as distinct implementations, webMethods bills its technology suite as a single platform for "business process integration." Other EAI vendors have taken a similar approach, building standards-based, integration-centric BPM suites around stand-alone or embedded enterprise service bus technologies.

In a December 2006 Forrester Research report, analysts Ken Vollmer and Henry Peyret said: "These ... tools are uniquely capable of supporting model-driven, composite application development based on existing or captured business metadata stored in embedded, SOA-based registry/repositories."

webMethods Fabric 7.0 builds on that premise. The BPM suite offers an Eclipse-based modeling tool that uses Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) to enable users to analyze IT operations and business metrics to find out "how things behave" in order to optimize business processes, explains Matt Green, senior director, product management.

The BPM suite's design environment supports "codeless" application development, letting users drag and drop IT assets such as services into process templates and link them together. Users can also drag and drop AJAX-enabled widgets from a library of 150 controls to create dashboard components. Fair Isaac's Blaze Advisor technology is embedded as a business rules engine.

The SOA components of the platform have been beefed up with technology from webMethods' recent acquisitions: two governance products from registry-repository provider InFravio and a new metadata management library built using standards-based semantic technology from Cerebra. The embedded Cerebra technology is designed to recognize metadata from any IT source (Web services, business processes, governance policies, documents and user profiles) using the Resource Description Framework and Web Ontology Language, and store it as a reusable IT asset in a searchable repository, according to the company.

The webMethods InFravio X-Registry includes an integrated UDDI v.3.0 repository for tracking policies and data related to business services. Infravio X-Broker is a messaging and orchestration engine for managing Web services. Although part of the Fabric 7.0 suite, both apps are still available on a stand-alone basis.

Many companies in 2006 raced to fill in gaps in their BPM/SOA platforms. Thankfully for end users, these tools are advancing rapidly, becoming easier to use and more tightly integrated. Although webMethods is a smaller company in terms of revenue compared to other top-tier vendors in the integration-centric BPM suite category (TIBCO Software Inc., IBM Corp., Oracle Corp., BEA Systems Inc., Sun Microsystems Inc. and Software AG), the company continues to offer leading-edge, comprehensive technology, according to Forrester Research.

The webMethods Fabric 7.0 suite is available now. The company is offering special pricing for certain configurations-webMethods for BPM, webMethods for B2B and webMethods Optimize (BAM)-through its "Quick Start" program until March 31.

About the Author

Kathleen Richards is the editor of and executive editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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