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.

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