Microsoft's BizTalk gets a dose of modeling smarts

IDS Sceer announces integration of the ARIS platform with Microsoft BizTalk 2006.

Long known for its close relationship with another German company, BI vendor SAP, businesses process modeling (BPM) vendor IDS Scheer further widened the breadth of its ARIS process modeling suite Wednesday through an announcement with Microsoft.

At IDS Sceer's Processworld Europe conference, the two vendors announced the integration of the ARIS platform with Microsoft BizTalk Server 2006 R2, the fruits of an alliance formed between the two companies last year that saw IDS Scheer become the preferred BPM modeling vendor for the Microsoft Business Process Alliance.

With the integration, the companies say businesses will be able to design, simulate and then execute business processes dynamically through BizTalk, as well as allow process analytics and more intelligence to be built into business processes.

"The concept and idea of having our BPM environment available to customers using BizTalk is being very positively received," said Thomas Volk, IDS Scheer president and CEO. "The capability to bring Microsoft's technology into an overall process improvement concept is a great step forward."

Wolfram Jost, member of the IDS Scheer executive board with responsibility for product strategy and development, added the Microsoft compatibility represents a significant milestone for the ARIS platform, and the opening of more choice and opportunity for ARIS users.

"Now with the Microsoft cooperation we've finished our road map and are now supporting all the major BI vendors," said Jost. "Customers can now start with ARIS as their process modeling tool and choose the BI vendor that best suits their business needs."

Microsoft's Volker Rosendahl, worldwide director of sales, SOA platform solutions, said the integration is about modeling process and bringing those processes to execution, particularly around making it easier for users to more efficiently execute those processes with BizTalk.

"You could do it all on paper or in Visual Studio, but it's faster letting the people work in the environment they're used to (such as ARIS)," said Rosendahl. From a sales perspective, currently there are no plans to offer a joint SKU of both products through either IDS Scheer or the Microsoft channel, said Rosendahl.

Rather, both company's sales forces are being briefed on the technologies and how they can be leveraged, and to that end he said an IDS Scheer representative will be coming to Microsoft's next global sales force meeting in Redmond to brief Microsoft sales reps directly on the ARIS offering.

Volk added its important to IDS Scheer to get the Microsoft channel up to speed and well engaged in the sales process.

"The opportunity to work with the Microsoft channel will be great for us, and we have to make sure we engage our own sales people along with Microsoft's people to drive this forward," said Volk. "We're working on how we can engage with the Microsoft partners and SIs that are the key choices for BI implementations on how we can bring this to market for them."

Tailoring an offering that is channel friendly and can be easily packaged, digested and marketed by partners will be important to the Microsoft/IDS Scheer partnership's success said Henry Peyret, senior analyst, serving enterprise architecture professionals with Forrester.

"It requires some new packaging, new licenses, and new marketing to go through partners, and it's a tough job to be able to do that," said Peyret. "It's difficult for still small vendors is to package a product in a way that it can be consumed by their customers and their partners."

From a pricing perspective, Peyret said ARIS won't be seen as a reasonable add-on to a BizTalk implementation if the pricing is near the same or more, so getting the packaging and features right for the market will be key, adding SaaS may be one way to go. Microsoft's Rosendahl said it is the vendors' intention to scale the solution to the wider BizTalk market.

One customer that is already waiting for the integrated offerings is Sweden's Sandvik Tooling. A long-time customer of both ARIS and BizTalk, Sandvik's chief architect, Nevzat Ertan, said since they started using both tools some years ago the philosophy has changed from simple application integration as dictated by IT to become more of a bottom-up process, where opportunities are identified at the business level and the IT infrastructure is adjusting to deliver them. Currently ARIS can deliver the information, said Ertan, but it can't execute and deliver on it.

"With this cooperation finally we can have the execution of the process after you develop it, and the traceability of the process. That's really interesting to us," said Ertan. "We see enormous potential in working with ARIS to organize our processes if, in the end, I can execute some of my processes modeled with ARIS in BizTalk."

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