Infrastructure apps firm Software AG says two newly available elements in its platform-as-a-service suite will help companies develop businesses processes in the cloud and plan IT more effectively.
Both Process Live and Portfolio Live form part of the Software AG Live PaaS product, announced in May.
At the firm's global user conference in San Francisco this week, it also launched the next version of software integration suite, webMethods 9.5, which for the first time offers dynamic cloud scaling through its Elastic ESB (enterprise service bus) technology.
Software AG is competing in a crowded PaaS field with a number of major suppliers including Salesforce.com with Heroku, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, Pivotal, and VMware's Cloud Foundry. Software AG acquired PaaS provider Longjump in April.
Social collaboration tools
According to the company, the Process Live product brings social collaboration into the development of processes, enabling business executives to design, share and refine business methods.
The product integrates with Software AG's ARIS product community, which consists of 250,000 members participating in development projects.
Software AG UK director of business architecture Matt Smith said one of the biggest problems in process management is that the people who understand how the business works in the C-level suite speak a different language to IT people, who have to tie those processes into the technology running inside the company
"One speaks the language of BPMN [Business Process Model and Notation] and the other speaks about how the company works — business process. How do you get those two groups to collaborate when one group doesn't even want to install software let alone understand how process models work?" he said.
"You don't need to be a process engineer to use this tool and play with it and collaborate — it's almost like a social-media platform. You can sit there with colleagues and look at process models that are not boxes linked with arrows and swim lanes. They're very simple flowcharts. It's all about bridging the gap between what business does and what IT does."
IT estate insights
The Portfolios Live tool is designed to provide insights into IT estates and the relationships between applications and business processes.
Smith said most companies have complicated IT portfolios, especially those that have grown through acquisition.
"A lot of the challenges when you get to those environments are how do I understand the interdependencies of those applications against the processes that I find critical in my business? How do I visualise that and collaborate on that?" he said.
Being able to visualise those applications and their relationships and risks helps plan which ones to renovate, replace or consolidate.
"If you're looking to try and minimise your risks as to what you should invest in, physically seeing what's going on in your IT estate and matching it to the business is pretty important," Smith said.
"That's what Portfolio Live does: it lets me sit down and say, 'Show my 700 applications', 'Show risk lines against those', 'How critical is that application to my business processes?' and then start to plan around the structure that I want in that IT portfolio.
"It's like Process Live, where you're matching business to IT, but for the world of applications and planning in the IT estate."
The final element of the Software AG PaaS suite, Integration Live, which connects with cloud, private cloud and ESB installations using webMethods ESB technology, will be available in the first quarter of 2014.