Enabling Real-time Analytics

webMethods, Informatica combine integration, visibility in joint platform for business activity monitoring

Tempe, AZ — April 14, 2003 — Integration specialist webMethods joined with analytics solution provider Informatica today in rolling out a joint platform for enterprise integration and real-time visibility.

The two providers said their Business Activity Platform is intended to address the convergence of integration technologies and meet customers' emerging needs to achieve business activity monitoring (BAM).

Integration, contend the partners, has evolved to the point where the traditional lines between data integration, as represented by Informatica's "extract, transform and load" (ETL) products, and process integration, as represented by webMethods' enterprise application integration (EAI) products, are becoming blurred.

In this environment, companies are looking past tactical integration needs to build complex business processes that look to maximize all information technology (IT) assets within the enterprise, and they are recognizing the synergy between the two integration types and seeking solutions that offer both while also augmenting end-to-end integration with real-time visibility in a business intelligence dashboard.

The Business Activity Platform, said webMethods and Informatica, is the first integration offering to deliver solutions for both integration types with seamless interoperability. The platform combines webMethods Integration Platform with Informatica's PowerCenterRT data integration platform and PowerAnalyzer business intelligence software. Also included is the Business Activity Platform Adapter, which provides interoperability between those components.

The two providers also announced that HP and Accenture will be systems integrators of choice to implement the Business Activity Platform for enterprise customers.

Toward a BAM Platform

Gartner describes BAM as a term that defines the concept of providing real-time access to critical business performance indicators to improve the speed and effectiveness of business operations. "At its broadest level, BAM is the convergence of operational business intelligence (BI) and real-time application integration aimed at business goals, but enabled through advances in IT," said David McCoy, vice president and Gartner Fellow. "BAM is not application-level monitoring — it is monitoring of a complex mesh of applications and their interactions."

Traditionally, business analytics software could help a business answer such questions as "Who are my most profitable customers?" or "What product is selling the best in the Northeast region?" The information needed to answer these questions was compiled in a database and then analyzed, creating latency that affects response times. This capability becomes much more powerful when information outside the database can also be analyzed and cross-referenced in real time, which is the vision for BAM.

For example, using a combination of webMethods' and Informatica's technologies, a company can detect changes to the normal operating metrics for any business process or operating parameter in real time, for example, when a company's customer relationship management system indicates that a top customer starts to place orders at 80 percent of previous order levels. Informatica's analytics products can interpret this data to formulate an optimal response, and the response can be invoked immediately using the business process management capabilities of the webMethods Integration Platform. In this case, the sales team could be immediately alerted to the change, allowing them to address the problem early. The result is that the company can detect more quickly important changes and trends and respond to them in a fraction of the time previously required.

The potential benefits, according to the providers, include increased business agility, improved business metrics and monitoring, real-time financial reporting, improved customer service, enhanced fraud and risk management and, ultimately, improved sales revenues.

As an added benefit, IT departments can view heavily traveled business process paths, helping them uncover which systems are approaching maximum thresholds. IT can then proactively bolster business critical systems with the necessary fail-over support to prevent potential business problems. The resulting availability can have a real effect on corporate performance, and in turn, the business' bottom line.

Companies deploying the Business Activity Platform can use their existing systems management investments in HP OpenView, Computer Associates' Unicenter or BMC PATROL to monitor the health of the new platform. This visibility is enabled by the Open Management Interface (OMI) specification, jointly developed by webMethods and HP, which exposes the integration layer for monitoring.

The Business Activity Platform is now available. The solution will be jointly sold, marketed and supported by webMethods and Informatica.