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Navy Onboard with Oak Grove BPM

Submarines in the U.S. Navy's fleet will next spring sport Oak Grove System's business process management (BPM) technology to get its administrative tasks ship-shape, officials said Wednesday.

The deal highlights Oak Grove's recent expansion from a primarily embedded player in the BPM market -- one of its primary business models to date has been to license its workflow engine technology to ISVs like Sybase and Plumtree -- and into direct sales of standalone applications to enterprise customers.

The Navy deal is part of a roughly $6 million, four-year Shipboard Non-Tactical Application Delivery Interface System (SNADIS) contract brokered by AMSEC, a Navy and commercial maritime contractor based out of Virginia Beach, Va.

SNADIS is an interface of applications on top of a common structure. The workflow component, which will be provided by Oak Grove Systems, is one of several core technologies in SNADIS. Oak Grove, particularly its Reactor product, will help ease the difficulties presented by shipboard activities; many of the applications developed on ships are homegrown and don't natively support communication with other in-house applications.

"It's a really challenging environment," said Bill Rumschlag, AMSEC logistics technology services division manager. "If we could discreetly and definitively define every business process on a submarine back in a coding shop we could develop the workflows, roll it out to the fleet and everybody's happy; that's not the reality."

Charles Ames, Oak Grove president and CEO, said the project is an ideal framework to showcase the merits of BPM -- the ability to define and execute business functions regardless of application or infrastructure.

"They're the poster-child customer for what we're trying to do, because they're heavily emphasizing rapid deployment of these applications and the flexibility to adapt those applications and develop new ones as the need arises," he said.

The Navy will be using the latest product in Oak Grove's software arsenal, Reactor 6.0, which was released less than two weeks ago by the Calabasas, Calif.-based software company. The company's product line is the commercialization of technology originally used by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory on the space shuttle program and International Space Station.

Reactor 6.0 -- which is made up of a Java-based Process Studio, Process Engine and Process Manager -- offers the functionality needed to make Reactor a solid standalone application.

The fact that more companies are looking at Oak Grove's technology as a standalone application, rather than bundled with an ISV offering, doesn't surprise Ames. The company has been selling a standalone product all along and companies like Sun Microsystems and the SAS Institute are Reactor 6.0 customers. It's the timing that has surprised him.

"We've tried to be fairly disciplined about playing to our strengths, so until the last year or 18 months, we haven't been in a position to meet the needs of those major enterprises," Ames said. "We had developed the product starting with the engine first, and it was most appropriate for embedded use. We've consistently built out the product, and we've finally gotten to the point where there's an integrated design implementation environment to go along with the engine and client services that make it pretty easy to develop complete solutions.

"All of the other little pieces that used to require at least some degree of programming skill are now built into the integrated design environment so you have the ability to build and deploy workflows without coding," he added.