Process Application Platforms 2016: Software AG
This report assesses the capabilities of Software AG’s Process Application Platform, and also examines the partners and intellectual property that Software AG can offer customers exploring associated technology implementations. This report forms part of a series of reports from MWD Advisors which assesses business process application technology offerings – technology-related capabilities which support organisations wanting to design, develop, deploy, monitor and optimise partially- or wholly-automated business processes.
We strongly encourage you to read this report in conjunction with our accompanying Assessment Framework report.
In AgileApps and the webMethods BPM Platform, Software AG has a pair of very capable Process Application Platforms, though they’re very different in focus today. They’re partially integrated and more integration is planned, but the best way to think of AgileApps and the webMethods BPM platform today is that they serve complementary needs – rapid creation of standalone process-based applications (AgileApps) and creation and long-term management of mission-critical operational process applications (webMethods BPM Platform).
Looking specifically at the webMethods BPM Platform, there’s strong support for both automated and transactional work scenarios, and some support for exploratory work scenarios. The Business Console – which provides the container for dashboarding, dynamic, collaborative tasking and ‘process ETA’ capabilities –underpins the platform’s support for transactional and exploratory work in particular.
Support for different types of work
Automated work: By virtue of webMethods’ heritage as an event- and message-based integration middleware provider, the webMethods BPM Platform provides very good design-time and runtime support for automated work scenarios and has the architecture to scale in demanding situations.
Transactional work: Clear separation of process and task management in the webMethods BPM Platform sets the stage for flexibility. Integrated content and document management and end-user flexibility and monitoring capabilities are great features. AgileApps also plays well here, particularly in support of service desk use cases.
Exploratory work: The webMethods BPM Platform doesn’t have any explicit capabilities designed to support exploratory work scenarios, though the foundation capabilities you need are mostly present. webMethods AgileApps Cloud has a number of really solid case management capabilities combined with easy-to-use tools.
Rapid prototyping / quick-start
AgileApps is designed specifically to enable small teams to visually develop and deploy process applications quickly without coding, and it offers many features that support this aim well. However applications that you build using AgileApps stay in AgileApps; you can integrate them with webMethods BPM applications to create ‘two-tier’ business platforms, but today, if you want to use AgileApps as a prototyping tool, you’ll have to start over in webMethods BPM. Software AG has plans to bridge these two platforms more completely in 2017.
In the webMethods BPM Platform and AgileApps the change management capabilities available to your teams are modest – and may not be enough for large teams working on programs with multiple parallel lines of development. But if you pair the webMethods BPM Platform with Software AG’s ARIS tools, you can delegate responsibility for managing design change to those ARIS tools – and the change management and governance capabilities at your disposal are much richer and more scalable.
User experience options
For both AgileApps and the webMethods BPM Platform, there are three main options: the tools’ own customisable HTML-based UIs; hybrid/native mobile apps; and the ability to embed application data and actions in your own custom UIs through open integration interfaces.
Licensing and deployment for the webMethods BPM Platform is on-premise only; however AgileApps is provided by Software AG as Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), hosted on AWS, and as an on-premise offering.
Inside Software AG’s platform
Software AG’s Process Application Platform has two core elements: the webMethods BPM Platform and webMethods AgileApps. Together these form the Agile Process capability of the company’s broader Digital Business Platform. webMethods BPMS is aimed principally at IT teams needing to deliver high-scalability, large-scale process automation solutions; whereas webMethods AgileApps is aimed more at subject matter experts and business analysts, and positioned for the quick delivery of more lightweight, dynamic process and case management applications. Software AG has started to bring these two pieces together, and it’s prioritising development work to increase product integration.
Software AG has a 2,000-strong Global Consulting Services outfit, and also partners with a number of large and small third-party professional services providers to help customers with BPM implementations. The centre of gravity of Software AG’s consulting services is its ‘Prime’ methodology, which provides offerings to help customers assess and benchmark themselves, build business cases for BPM investments, and implement BPM projects.
Key tools and capabilities
The central product elements of the Software AG Process Application Platform offering are the webMethods BPM Platform, which is currently at version 9.12, together with webMethods AgileApps.
webMethods AgileApps is a template-driven application development environment focused on the creation of lightweight process and case management applications, and is specialised for use by business analysts and casual developers. It’s provided as a platform-as-a-service and on-premise offering.
AgileApps is a comprehensive toolset that enables all elements of standalone modern applications to be designed, developed and deployed in one place – you use models to specify data structures, processes, rules, task models, forms and other UI elements, reports and dashboards, and more. There’s a built-in knowledge base and community forum facilities for service desk use cases; file-sharing and document preview features; automated document creation and assembly features; and multi-channel customer communication features.
webMethods BPM Platform
The main elements of webMethods BPM Platform are as follows:
- Designer. An Eclipse-based design and development tool that acts as a single point of entry for process application implementation. Capabilities are provided through ‘perspectives’ (each aimed at a particular audience) and ‘views’ (each providing an interface for a particular design tools). The toolset provides not only a process design tool, but also tools for task (interactive process step) design, information modelling, organisational modelling, and simulation. Designer also enables you, through the design of sophisticated sets of interrelated task user interfaces, to create web-based composite applications, which may or may not link into process workflows. Designer is also the place where you create integration services and ‘flows’ that are deployed to Integration Server (see below), and exposed for consumption within process models. It also provides access to the embedded webMethods Rules development environment.
- Business Rules. A home-grown rules inference engine and design environment. The rules design tool is delivered as an integrated component of webMethods Designer; the runtime engine is deployed as a service running on Integration Server (see below).
- Process Engine. The runtime server responsible for driving and managing the execution of core process model logic (that is, elements of process models that aren’t directly associated with human tasks). The Process Engine runs as a set of services on top of the Integration Server (see below). Process models are packaged and executed as sets of independent (but connected) services on Integration Server.
- Task Engine. The runtime server responsible for managing the “human facing” elements of processes, by managing task lists, assigning tasks, and managing task escalations and delegations.
- Integration Server. The foundation on which the Process Engine (and the compiled core steps of your process models, too) execute at runtime. Integration Server nodes will also host any integration services you create using Designer, and make them available to the Process Engine for connecting processes to external resources (applications, systems and data sources).
- Business Console. This HTML5-based user experience container provides the preferred front-end for your business process applications. It extends core task management, task form presentation and process administration and monitoring capabilities with expertise location, more dynamic task assignment, task collaboration through social activity streams, and a ‘to-do list’ capability that enables process participants to dynamically define, and then save, share and reuse, active checklists for individual process tasks. Business Console is also available as a mobile application for iOS and Android devices.
- Content Service Platform (CSP). A content and document management platform that also provides a virtualisation layer and connectors to a wide range of external content and document stores – making internally-managed and externally-managed content look exactly the same to consuming systems. CSP is hosted on Integration Server and its document access and management capabilities can be addressed directly within webMethods Designer.
- Universal Messaging. Provides publish-subscribe communication services to Process Engine/Integration Server and Task Engine instances, which allow processes and tasks to be widely distributed in large, complex and federated runtime environments.
- Monitor. Provides real-time monitoring of process instances – as well as providing process/task administration functionality to administrators.
- Mobile Designer. Allows development of process and task based native mobile applications for multiple mobile operating systems.
- Optimize for Process. A sophisticated Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) and process optimization product, aimed at non-technical specialists, which presents its functionality to business analysts and managers through highly interactive dashboards that are hosted within the Business Console.
User experience options
>>> There’s more to this report, but you don’t currently have a subscription to read it.
Do you already have membership (like 6,500+ others)? If so, make sure you’re logged in.
>>> For free articles, Sign up for a free membership.