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Oak Grove Establishes BPM Reseller Channel

The future of business process execution engines likely lies in embedding them in other products, according to experts, which has led Calabasas, Calif.-based Oak Grove Systems to develop a worldwide reseller channel program.

Oak Grove plans to unveil the new program Tuesday by announcing partnerships with resellers and systems integrators in Asia, Europe, South America and North America.

"The reseller channel comes in because our strength as a company is in delivering embeddable technology to independent software vendors (ISVs)," Chuck Ames, CEO of Oak Grove Systems, told internetnews.com. "The channel will do the heavy lifting there."

"They fundamentally believe, and I think they're correct, that a lot of this business process stuff is going to be embedded," Ronald Schmelzer, senior analyst for Web services research firm ZapThink told internetnews.com.

Oak Grove's Reactor Authorized Solution Provider Program provides product discounts, developer training and technical support to systems integration partners who provide implementation services and local support to enterprises worldwide. The program is intended to help systems integration partners provide a complete set of business process execution solutions to their customers, including:

  • Workflow, to sequence people, roles and activities
  • Business Process Integration, to sequence code
  • Web Services Orchestration, to sequence Web services.

Oak Grove developed its engine, Reactor 5, as an Internet-based process coordination technology at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for the NASA Space Shuttle and International Space Station programs. It was intended to aid the NASA engineers and program managers that design procedure documents for shuttle flights, gathering their input, tracking their progress and handing off tasks.

The J2EE-based technology provides active process management, allowing an organization to maintain a single user view across all activities and applications while enabling workflows from worker-to-worker, worker-to-application and application-to-application.

The company's new reseller partners include Arlington Institute and Inforonics in the U.S., Asprecise in Singapore, Gesfor Osmos in Peru, and Worldnet21 in Spain.

Arlington Institute, a think tank which develops support systems for intelligence agencies, is using Reactor 5 to deliver Web services orchestration capabilities to its Large Integrated Search and Analysis (LISA) project, an "all-source investigation engine which takes information from unrelated sources and uses pattern matching to find leads for further investigation. Reactor 5 helps LISA manage the collaboration among teams of analysts and intelligence systems.

"Reactor enables us to coordinate among a setup of Web services interactions in order to achieve the LISA vision," said Jin Zhu, director of Information Strategy at The Arlington Institute. "Its flexibility and ease of integration are main values in Reactor's process engine."

Meanwhile, Inforonics, whose clients are Fortune 500 publishing houses like McGraw Hill and Thomas Publishing, has integrated Reactor with its solutions in order to help its clients automate content acquisition and digital asset management workflows.

Singapore's Asprecise caters to the aviation industry, installing systems and helping airlines refurbish their aircraft. Asprecise uses Reactor 5 for its workflow and business process integration capabilities in order to coordinate the large number of people and tasks that must be completed, tracked and documents in the proper sequence to bring an aircraft back into service.

"Automation is a key business enabler to streamline existing business processes and dynamically create new ones," said Tan Soon Kiat, chief operating officer of Asprecise.

However, while Oak Grove recognizes that the current market for its product is as an embedded solution, Ames said that customers are beginning to look for a solution that they can buy separately from the applications stack.

"It's an opportunity to deliver a tightly focused solution, a process solution that can be used as a shared service across applications," he said. That's where partners like Sybase and Plumtree Software come in. They can help customers separate their business process execution platform from the document management system and extend it to apply to the whole of their infrastructure.

"It's going to be SI friendly because it makes their job easier rather than harder," Ames said.

Meanwhile, the industry as a whole is trying to hammer out a standard for business process execution and orchestration. While Ames said support for one of the specifications on the table, BPEL is on the Reactor 5 roadmap, he also noted that whichever way the industry turns, it shouldn't affect Oak Grove too much.

"In terms of standards, we don't support directly any one of the process markup languages," he said. "What we do support is XML in and out, and a broad array of standards on all other interfaces."

He added, "We have been an active observer or participant in most of the BPM (business process management) standards efforts that have occurred over the past five years or so. We designed Reactor carefully so it can be mapped into any of those easily. You can do it as a straight XML transformation."