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Let's face it; you really don't need business process management (BPM) middleware
inside your own firewall. A lot of organizations (maybe even most) use BPM software
in that way because a good sales guy cornered their CIO. Or because their company
is the result of a merger or acquisition. Or because the IT staff always has to
have the latest, greatest widgets. But you don't really need BPM to integrate
your own internal information processing.
Don't worry. It won't hurt to use BPM middleware instead of enterprise application
integration (EAI) and data integration (DI) inside the firewall, except maybe
at budget time. If you use it inside the company now, you have a head start
on a much better use of it next year or the year after (that is, enabling it
to more easily manage business processes across legal entities).
The reason you don't need it inside is that BPM middleware is really all about
tying together disparate applications… those with different brand names
or custom developers, different integration schemes and metadata maps, different
purposes (transactional or analytical), different standards, and so forth. Inside
your own firewall, there is no logical reason for deploying software with so
many different characteristics (except for the merger/acquisition example cited
above) and therefore no need to tie it together. Outside your firewall, on the
other hand, the range of software characteristics cannot be avoided.
Going outside the firewall is how you reach partners and suppliers, and even
reach customers that don't know they are customers yet. Ten years ago this concept
was called supply chain management (SCM) software. But the market for SCM never
quite took off. Instead, part of SCM branched off, hooked up with a quirky little
PC software program called ACT, and became the multi-billion-dollar market called
customer relationship management (CRM). Another part split off in the opposite
direction and became supplier relationship management. What was left got folded
back into ERP (Red Pepper into PeopleSoft, Numetrix into J.D. Edwards, Manugistics
into JDA, and so forth). The problem was that all the different types and brands
of SCM software did not work well together outside the enterprises that deployed
them (e.g., for ideal performance, every partner had to have the same brand