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IBM Upgrades SOA, Mashes BPM with Google, Tries to Quantify Agility

Aiming to make SOA easier to use, IBM has launched new visual BPM tools, prepackaged SOA apps that target specific industries, and an index to measure business agility.

IBM has launched several new SOA products, all aimed at the top of the stack. They include an upgrade to its BPM (business process management) suite that incorporates mashups with Google maps; new dashboards intended to measure agility; and new industry-specific content packs containing prebuilt SOA apps aimed at banking, telecom, healthcare and insurance.
The most ambitious part of the announcement is the KAI (Key Agility Index), which attempts to change agility from a buzzword to a quantifiable metric. The plan is for different KAIs to measure agility in different areas, with the first one focused on the supply chain. The KAI is calculated using an IBM wizard, and graded on a curve relative to IBM's experience with other customers in similar industries. Because of IBM's large consulting base, this could be hard for competitors to emulate.
The industry-specific applications are an extension of industry-specific roadmaps that IBM published earlier this year, aimed at showing customers how SOA could benefit their particular businesses. It's hard to fault IBM for focusing on those: That's where most of the current SOA customer base is concentrated, so keeping them happy is important. And because IBM and its partners have already developed the apps, reusing them in multiple customers is a sensible strategy. But potential customers in other industries may feel neglected, and see less incentive to embrace IBM's vision of SOA.
The new BPM software includes Ajax dashboards and mashups that can present geographical information with Google maps. These will clearly help IBM customers bridge the gap between rich Internet applications and SOA---different technologies that should be natural complements to each other. They also fit in with IBM's strategy of targeting nontechnical users.

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