IBM recently outlined its new strategy for its middleware products. Integration across business processes is an essential component of its vision for the on demand enterprise, and IBM is addressing business process integration by creating industry-specific versions of its DB2, Lotus, Rational, Tivoli, and WebSphere products.
The Bottom Line: IBM’s middleware strategy will eventually help customers reduce their cross-business process integration costs.
What It Means: 75% of companies are investing in Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) technologies in 2004, with 13% listing EAI as their top investment. Despite years of deploying Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), supply chain management, and customer relationship management application suites, most companies lack integrated business processes that span functional areas such as finance, sales, marketing, and logistics. IBM plans to address this need by delivering a middleware operating environment built from components marketed under its existing DB2, Lotus, Rational, Tivoli, and WebSphere brands and providing the following:
- Business integration services built around Web services and providing model-driven design, process simulation, and activity and process management
- Common runtime services for security and identity management, transaction coordination, workload and workflow management, and collaboration
- Virtualization services providing systems, network, and storage-based grid services
- Automation services providing policy-based orchestration, provisioning, and event correlation
IBM plans to package this work into 48 industry-specific systems across 11 industries. To support the packaging, IBM is also realigning its software sales and sales support organization around vertical-specific expertise.
Conclusions: When implemented, IBM’s middleware strategy should help companies reduce integration costs. The strategy calls for a set of common components to provide services across a set of applications. Coupled with the common components will be industry-specific components that provide integration and workflow rules to support industry-specific processes and applications. Combining the two will reduce the need for companies to integrate themselves. Still, as with any grand strategy, the rollout will take time. Several years will pass before the benefits of the IBM strategy are widely realized, but at least IBM is headed in the right direction.
AMR Research originally published this article on 2 December 2003.