Dec 14, 2008

Innovation World 2008 Israel

I attended Software AG's Innovation World 2008 held in Israel this week. I haven't had a chance to take a look at Software AG's strategy since about 2 years ago, when I was working intensely with Webmethods which Software AG purchased.

Attendee's are pretty firmly divided between Software AG's mainframe product lineup, namely Adabase and Natural, and Webmethods customers (or those looking forward towards SOA technologies). While Software AG has been extending their legacy product line to offer mainframe transactions as web services, they're clearing focused on Webmethods as an ESB and BPM provider as their future.

While the conference lineup had a number of senior Software AG people, including some technical Ph.d's, the tone of the conference was decidedly marketing. Customer success "movies" were presented throughout. Presentatons were very high level overviews with much marketing fluff.

The only presentation with any technical information was the final one, where a demonstration of webMethods mainframe link products was shown, with some mainframe green screen apps turned into web services with "a few clicks". Once the whole environment is set up - which is not a trivial task - exposing mainframe transactions or scraping green screen apps really can be a click through process. It is impressive, but rarely goes as smooth as the magic demo.

There was much high level talk of BPM (Business Process Management) and BAM (Business Activity Monitoring), which are the focus up-market tool sets of webMethods. While BAM truly is impressive and a very flashy ability to show to the business, it relies on the key business processes and key data points of those processes being exposed as services already (and better via the webMethods ESB). The setup time for this runs from months to even years (for a comprehensive picture), though a focused project can expose a key point or two within weeks if the existing app structure allows for it.

While there is some excitement in the market about the latest webMethods tool announcement of webMethods Insight Runtime Governance, there was no info presented at the conference. There was a presentation on SOA Governance as a high level discipline, but it was the most hollow presentation on the topic I've seen. To sum it up in one sentence, "Process Control aka Governance is required for SOA success." Umm, yep.

I had a brief conversation at the end with the head of the local Software AG office about webMethods presence in Israel. He stated that basically webMethods products had yet to penetrate the local Israeli market, but they were hopeful this would change in 2009 and were focusing upon very large scale deployments. It waits to be seen whether the "start small and grow the footprint" or "start big and make your SOA toolset THE SOA toolset for your customer" approach" will be more successful.

The crowd was surprisingly large given the size of the local market. Two speakers were locals, but the vast majority Software AG management.