Ranking Business Process Management Software Companies

by: Dennis Byron

Over in the ebizQ breaking news section, we are reporting that Gartner has ranked Software AG (OTCQX:STWRY) high in both the enterprise service bus [ESB] and business process management suite [BPMS] categories. 

This is not to criticize Software AG; when someone serves you up a pitch right down the middle, hit it out of the park. But Mr. Gartner, are those two categories supposed to be mutually exclusive?

I can't tell from the related Gartner press release which says middleware consists of 11 categories, but only lists five or six. Apparently, BPMS suites are part of the ubercategory "BPM-enabling technologies," and ESB's are part of "application integration and platform middleware." But what about BPM-enabling technologies based on ESBs?

This is the silly season for market share reports from the leading quant houses such as Gartners' Dataquest and IDC, so expect to see more such slicing and dicing of the market in ways no user would recognize. The intention is to wow you investors.

In the real world, BPM is a value proposition and dozens of different types of software technologies can be used to make it happen. I do rank Software AG high in the category based on its 2007 acquisition of WebMethods and its own previous successes selling the concept. I see IBM (NYSE:IBM) and Fujitsu (OTCPK:FJTSY) number one and two worldwide in BPM, although Fujitsu depends on its position in Asia/Pacific to get so highly ranked. Ironically, Software AG distributed Fujitsu's BPM products outside of A/P prior to its acquiring  WebMethods.

Other suppliers that are likely to have similar market share to (or larger than) Software AG in BPM include Oracle/BEA (NASDAQ:ORCL), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), TIBCO (NASDAQ:TIBX), AT&T (NYSE:T)/Sterling Commerce, Autonomy, SAP (NYSE:SAP), ACI Worldwide (NASDAQ:ACIW) and Sun (JAVA). Appian, Lombardi, Pegasystems (NASDAQ:PEGA) and Metastorm (on the shelf as MSTM) are trying to work their way onto the leaderboard. Many--including the smaller suppliers--offer multiple BPM-related products because of acquisitions made over the last 36 months (so a more useful ranking to determine market acceptance would be by product rather than vendor), and these products use everything from ESBs to collaboration technology to deliver business process management. Consider IBM with everything from Filenet to Notes, or Oracle with everything from Fuego to the Plumtree portal to the Collaxa BPEL engine.

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