RealTime IT News

webMethods Acquisitions Round Out Platform

Infrastructure integration software maker webMethods announced Monday the acquisition of The Mind Electric and DataChannel, two critical parts of the company's enterprise service-oriented architecture (ESOA) goal.

The company also finalized the buyout of the Dante Group, a business intelligence software product. In all, webMethods expects the three acquisitions to cost around $32 million.

The founder of one of the two companies, Graham Glass of TME, was named webMethods new chief technology officer. Glass' in-depth knowledge of Web services technologies fits into webMethods vision for ESOA, and how to best leverage the technology within its product line.

ESOA, in a nutshell, is a company's ability to run and manage disparate applications on the intranet and over the Internet, regardless of application platform. With it, IT departments don't have to worry about running a J2EE-based program in conjunction with a .NET database, for example.

According to Gartner Research, by 2006 ESOA will be a guiding principle in any company's decision to buy new software.

"Over time, lack of SOA will become a competitive disadvantage for most enterprises," said Yefim Natis, Gartner vice president and research director. "Mainstream enterprises should invest today in understanding SOA and building SOA design and development skills."

DataChannel is a portal program that provides a common user interface throughout the enterprise intranet. With it, the IT staff can run a host of applications (regardless of platform) from one portal to its employees, customers and suppliers.

Officials said webMethods had bought the technology behind DataChannel and some of the key personnel behind it, though specifics weren't mentioned. Likely, the top developers and executives will retain positions within the new division created by the acquisition.

The portal will be renamed webMethods Portal and become generally available by the end of the year.

In a nod to the developer community it once catered to, webMethods is trying to buy up TME. The company makes a product called GLUE, which makes it easier for companies on a Java-based platform to work with other programming technologies.

"Over the past 3-4 years, we've spent a lot of time on application integration," said Scott Opitz, webMethods vice president of marketing and business development. "This will more closely integrate the developer community."

The problem with integrating J2EE- and .NET-based applications in one environment is creating an architecture that bridges the two Web services frameworks. Companies like TME developed software based on Web Services standards approved by OASIS (the technology's standards body).

According to Opitz, the real benefit behind the TME acquisition is the technology under development at the company. TME's Web services fabric technology will let a stable and secure development framework sit on top of all the layers of stand-alone applications and Web services throughout the network.

"There have been no clearly defined standards for making it work before," Opitz said. "(TME's) figured out a way to have it sit on top of any application and add capabilities like security, business process management and load balancing."

With the technology, webMethods expects to attract a larger market of customers for the company.

"The reality is that integration is reaching maturity," Opitz said. "What we have now is this fabric that brings together all these applications. This is what customers are looking for."

The company calls it the webMethods Fabric, which runs in conjunction with its integration product. With these applications, webMethods officials said, it ends the days of proprietary software dictating what can or can not run on the network.

"Adding webMethods Fabric to the capabilities of the webMethods Integration Platform allows our customers to meet their toughest business process integration challenges while gaining the benefits of a completely standards-based and enterprise-class service-oriented architecture," said Phillip Merrick, webMethods chairman and CEO. "The power of this approach will be appealing to both new and existing customers of webMethods."

Opitz said the acquisition will close in the next couple days.

webMethods, however, was able to seal the deal on its acquisition of the Dante Group Monday, a business intelligence piece of software that monitors network traffic and diagnoses slowdowns and underutilizations.

Dante Group's fingerprinting technology will be redubbed webMethods Optimize and is available for purchase today. webMethods bought up the employees, technology and customer base at the Dante Group.

The acquisitions Monday round out webMethods goals for providing an end-to-end enterprise software platform for any applications the business might run on its network, whether it's based on J2EE, .NET or legacy-based technology.