IBM Acquires an Apt App

IBM acquired AptSoft, a provider of specialized software involving real-time business activity, for an undisclosed price Thursday. The move is intended to expand IBM's services-oriented architecture offerings, according to a statement announcing the acquisition. How exactly the AptSoft solution will fit into IBM's overall SOA strategy has yet to be determined, and IBM officials were unavailable for further comment. Burlington, Mass.-based AptSoft, with an estimated $4.1 million in 2007 revenue, according to Hoover's, specializes in what IBM calls business event processing -- a niche still so much in flux that it is also sometimes referred to as complex business processing
(CBP) or, as AptSoft itself called the space, complex event processing (CEP). In the aftermath of the acquisition, one IBM executive was quoted as saying that "we believe the real value is in business event processing, with a focus on the business." A roadmap for IBM's BEP strategy will be announced at IMPACT, the company's annual SOA conference, which will be held beginning April 6 in Las Vegas, according to Frank Chisholm, founder and CEO of AptSoft. Chisholm, whose new title at IBM will be program manager, Websphere, business event processing, says that he has invited about a dozen AptSoft employees to join IBM to help develop the roadmap. "IBM has identified BEP as a key feature and has had a number of products with various levels of business event processing capabilities for a number of years," Chisholm says. The solution expands IBM's CRM feature set, Chisholm says, because it enables non-technical users, such as business-line managers, to use the application. Previous offerings were primarily designed for technicians. The AptSoft solution enables a line-of-business manager to correlate different data points to provide improved service in a shorter time frame, according to Chisholm. For example, the software can alert a salesperson to contact a prospect who has looked at a particular product online, asked for a price quote, but has not made a purchase in a specified amount of time (e.g., 48 hours). A manager can also use the application to chart the correlation between events (e.g., time of quote request and time of sale) to refine alerts and other triggers. The combination of the AptSoft solution and the business intelligence (BI) software from the soon-to-close acquisition of Cognos will give IBM an edge in its BI offering, according to James Kobielus, senior analyst for Forrester Research. "AptSoft is one of the pure plays in the field," Kobielus says. "IBM is one of the leading SOA companies, and with the acquisition of Cognos, it will be one of the top BI vendors. It's clear that IBM wants to go down the road of providing more real-time business intelligence. IBM clearly has plans of weaving the solution through its Websphere portfolio." IBM already had the middleware and data-capture components, but the AptSoft application adds a critical front-end component to provide more complete BI and CRM capabilities, Kobielus says: "This gives IBM a differentiator in the BI space." At The Complex Event Processing Blog (thecepblog.com), blogger Tim Bass, who describes himself as an information technology and services consultant and contractor, wrote Thursday that "AptSoft has a more advanced user interface and graphical design-time environment when compared to the Oracle/BEA/Esper platform," and predicted that "the IBM/WebSphere/AptSoft offering will propel IBM to the top of the event processing market." Kobielus seems to agree, saying that he expects IBM competitors such as Oracle and SAP will have to play catch-up by acquiring one of the other dozen or so CEP vendors by the end of the year. Some of those vendors, according to Bass's CEP Blog, include Agent Logic, Aleri, Progress Software's Apama, Coral8, StreamBase, and middleware mainstay Tibco Software.

Related articles: Cognos: More Than Just a Cog in IBM's Performance Management Machine As shareholders approve the acquisition by Big Blue, the business intelligence provider updates its flagship product, aiming to make information-sharing smoother and more accessible. IBM Acquires Cognos The $5 billion deal marks ongoing consolidation in the Tier One business intelligence market; a "significant change" in IBM's direction, one analyst notes. Cognos To Purchase Applix The $339 million acquisition is the latest example of the convergence of business intelligence and performance management. Cognos Brings BI to Excel The business intelligence vendor adds search and analysis capabilities for business users of Excel; more vendors will follow, according to one industry analyst. Viewpoint: Complex Event Processing An AptSoft executive explains how to bring BPM into the real world. Viewpoint: SOA Challenges in CRM Is the promise of modular, reusable services connected seamlessly into larger applications hype? An AptSoft executive explains. Viewpoint: CRM Should Be Your First SOA Application Transforming your business to a customer-centric organization starts with a CRM-focused services-oriented architecture.
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