Innovation Happens Everywhere

 

Issue 3, 2013 Download pdf

 

How Software AG became a leader of leaders in application integration

By Subhash Ramachandran, Senior Vice President, Product Management, Software AG and
Mark Herring, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Software AG
 

In August of this year, Gartner, Inc., a leading industry analyst firm, positioned Software AG in the Leaders Quadrant of the newly created Magic Quadrant for Application Services Governance. Vendors were evaluated based on both their completeness of vision and ability to execute in the SOA Governance and API management markets.  This article highlights three of the most insightful, thought-provoking blogs about the Gartner ranking from Reality Check.

Explore Gartner’s recent report on Magic Quadrant for On-Premises Application Integration Suites.

Follow the latest innovation and news about webMethods at http://Tech Community.softwareag.com/webmethods.

 

What it Means to Use the #1 Integration Technology?

In the latest Gartner Magic Quadrant for On-premises Application Integration Suites*, Software AG has been positioned as a leader with the furthest position on both axes. But does this ranking really matter? To an IT professional who relies on such technologies day in day out, does using #1 integration technology make a real difference? Does it help you with your basic, perennial needs such as adopting new technologies faster or keeping up with new business demands and changes or improving developer productivity?

I think these questions are worth exploring. Understanding the context and criteria behind the ranking will allow you to make your own decision as to whether it matters to you. So let’s take a step back and understand what’s happening in the market lately. 

Businesses need integration for rapid innovation
The nexus of the four forces - cloud, mobile, social and big data - is creating unparalleled business opportunities. At the same time, it has led to some new challenges such as avoiding siloed cloud-based solutions by syncing them with the systems of record and an unprecedented proliferation of data, services, and devices. Integration allows companies to establish a strong and flexible foundation to build new applications. It helps manage growing data, devices, and services and leverage investments in existing IT infrastructure.

Integration is more relevant today than ever
Although integration isn’t a new concept, it is more relevant today than ever. The nexus of four forces has created requirements that need to be addressed urgently in order to avoid potential loss of market share and leadership. Integration helps address these requirements allowing companies to take full advantage of the business opportunities created by the nexus. A few such examples are:

  • Expanding business channels to include mobile users and public APIs
  • Combining events generated by the ‘internet of things’ with internal data for analytics
  • Ensuring data consistency and quality across enterprise applications and processes

It’s not your grandma’s integration anymore
Integration today has also evolved far beyond just onboarding partners and exchanging electronic documents. Today it includes integrating applications no matter where they are deployed—in the cloud as a service, on mobile devices, inside your firewall, or at your partner sites. It supports managing API access by 3rd party developers to your internal data and capabilities. It ensures that all interactions between applications and users are governed by automated enforcement of your organization’s policies and standards. Given this…

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a single comprehensive integration platform?
Such an integration platform will allow you to easily integrate and manage disparate applications, mobile devices, services, big data and APIs wherever they are—in the cloud or on-premise. It will come with an implementation methodology based on best practices in industry and access to consulting expertise. In fact, it would be great if such a platform:

  • Was used widely by organizations like yours and has been around for many years
  • Added new capabilities on a regular basis in a backward-compatible fashion
  • Had functionality that could be added as building blocks for gradual adoption as per your needs
  • Came with governance baked in for alignment with your policies and standards

Gartner stresses the importance of these attributes in its report
According to Gartner, “Many users are looking to support their integration projects with an integrated suite provided by one vendor, thus eliminating the burden to act as a system integrator for application infrastructure.” Leaders in this Magic Quadrant are “vendors with a proven, comprehensive and integrated set of products” who have been very responsive to market trends over the years and have demonstrated strong commitment. What differentiates the leaders, Gartner notes, is that although all the offerings are rich and mature “in some cases, they’re biased toward the vendor’s packaged application portfolio” and at times “considered too complex or too expensive for organizations with minimal experience in systematic application integration.”

*Gartner Magic Quadrant for On-Premises Application Integration Suites by Jess Thompson, Yefim V. Natis, Massimo Pezzini, Daniel Sholler, Ross Altman, Kimihiko Iijima, published 27 June 2013.

 

The Journey to #1 - How Did We Get Here?

Seeing Software AG ranked as the #1 leader in Gartner’s recently released On-premises Application Integration Suites MQ is probably my proudest moment working for Software AG and webMethods.  To quote our CTO Wolfram Jost, we are the “leader of leaders” in a category that includes 800 pound gorillas like IBM, Oracle, Microsoft and SAP. It gives me goose bumps seeing Software AG ranked higher than these vendors given that they are much bigger than us. This result is a great testimony to the webMethods technology, the vision of Software AG and the success our customers have achieved. 

Getting to this position was a long journey and having been at webMethods since the early days it is interesting to look back on what it took to get here.

Founded in 1996, webMethods started as a B2B integration company that pioneered the use of XML and web services. The webMethods platform was services based from the beginning (everything is a service with the logic neatly abstracted from the invocation), well before SOA became an architectural principle.  The silos created by traditional ERP led to the creation of the Integration market but the irony was that back then integration was itself siloed with different vendors having different solutions for A2A and B2B integration.Most of the vendors webMethods competed with in the early 2000s have since been sent to the enterprise software graveyard and is a good reminder about the nature of the business we are in.

The webMethods vision was to provide an integration continuum that allowed end to end processing of business transactions all the way from partners to back-end applications. This vision led to the creation of the webMethods Integration Platform which not only solved the integration problem but also became the foundation of the webMethods product suite. Integration became not only a market for us to serve but also an enduring principle in the way we develop software and this is reflected in the webMethods suite with its unified and consistent user experience. This core competency has allowed us to grow the product portfolio organically and via acquisitions and our integrated suite has helped differentiate us from the competition.

Software AG was the best thing that happened to webMethods and was the renaissance that the technology needed to break thru to the next level. Software AG via a combination of corporate and product strategy set the vision for webMethods Integration that was comprehensive and competitive.  Integration has greatly evolved with the four forces (Cloud, Mobile, Social and Big Data) that Gartner talks about bringing new requirements and is even more relevant today than ever—in fact, we are seeing the golden age of integration. It is no accident that Software AG is #1 in this Gartner MQ since we have been preparing to handle these requirements for the last couple of years via organic development of new products with webMethods 9.0 and strategic acquisitions that have brought us In-Memory, Universal Messaging, MDM, CEP and Mobile capabilities.

I want to thank all our customers who have helped take us to the top, specially the 40+ references that agreed to talk to Gartner. This MQ is a true reflection of technological superiority and customer success and Software AG is proud of its results.

 

The Role of Acquisition, Integration & Development 

Companies have many different philosophies when it comes to innovation and growth, but I think they fall into two main categories:

  • Not invented here - basically all innovation needs to happen in-house. All innovations outside the confines of the corporate firewall are considered inferior and poor and should be avoided.
     
  • Innovation happens everywhere - basically innovations happens inside the company and innovations outside the company are embraced and included into internal innovations where appropriate.

I am happy to say Software AG falls into the latter category and this is why we have been able to take the leadership position in the latest Gartner Magic Quadrant. We are naturally very proud of this achievement, but we would not have gotten there ourselves by going alone.

A few years ago we realized that our messaging backbone that is at the heart of our integration offering just didn’t have the scalability and performance that would carry us forward for multiple years. It still worked (and still does work) great but it lacked some additional sophistication like active-active clustering to name just one feature. To solve this problem we acquired a company called MyChannels and have integrated this product as our core messaging component in the webMethods Integration offering. This integration work was hard, but it was the right thing to do and honestly we wouldn’t be where we are in the market and in the Gartner MQ without this work. It wasn’t enough to just buy a messaging product; we had to do the hard work of integrating it into our product so our customers could get a fully integrated product that “just works!”

Similarly we saw our customers asking for higher performance on larger and larger data sets (now everyone is talking about this category as big data) and we looked outside the company again for a technology leader that could bring in-memory technology into Software AG. We purchased a company called Terracotta to create the underpinnings of a new big data offering from Software AG. We have used this product extensively inside of webMethods, creating increased performance and scalability across the suite. Here again it wasn’t enough to just acquire technology, we needed to acquire the right technology and the right teams that would work together to create an integrated suite that our customers can take advantage of.

We don’t just rely on outside innovation. We have created completely new products without any acquisitions. webMethods CloudSteams and webMethods Active Transfer are two examples where it was better for us in innovate inside the firewall and create products ourselves.

What sets us apart from the competition is that we have wonderful innovation happening inside the company and we are not constrained by the NIH (not invented here) syndrome. Our unique selling point still remains that we do all the hard integration work, with products that we build and that we acquire, allowing customers to have one product that works together and solves their needs.

We will continue to innovate both organically and inorganically with a maniacal focus on creating an integrated product that works and gets the customer to production faster.