Profile: Cordys Delivers Services from Beginning to End
Cordys quietly built a comprehensive SOA technology stack, including a dev environment, that places it in the forefront of technology providers.
- By Peter Varhol
Achieving a service-oriented architecture (SOA) in an enterprise is a difficult proposition, because you have a variety of applications that have to be turned into services and you typically must write a large amount of new code. And in most cases, you have to use multiple tools and delivery vehicles from different vendors, as most vendors specialize in a specific SOA approach or model.
The mission of Cordys is to ease the enterprise transition to an SOA through a vertically-integrated product stack that incorporates design, modeling, development, and deployment tools within an overall architectural framework. Your enterprise can make an investment in the Cordys platform and use it to develop, convert, or connect applications and application components that are SOA-enabled.
Cordys' ability to execute on this ambitious platform was a testament to the strength of its vision, according to Omid Razavi, Cordys Senior Vice President for USA. He said, "We built the complete platform because we realized that enterprises needed a comprehensive solution to Web services, rather than a piecemeal one."
The Early Years
Cordys was founded in 2001 by well-known software entrepreneur Jan Baan, who was also founder of Baan Corporation—one of the top five global ERP software vendors in a previous generation. After leaving Baan, he invested some of his money from the company, as well as attracting venture capital money, into the new startup that became Cordys.
Unlike other startups, Cordys spent the three years following its conception in a product development mode. The company was virtually silent from a market perspective. Because it was well-funded, it could afford a lengthy research and development cycle, and avoid hyping itself before a product existed.
Today Cordys is headquartered in the Netherlands, and product development takes place there and in India. The company still makes a significant investment in product development, in order to ensure that the full range of SOA development and deployment capabilities remain current and of value to evolving enterprises.
The Cordys Business Collaboration Platform
The Cordys Business Collaboration Platform consists of many components. The Cordys Business Process Management (BPM) simplifies the modeling, execution, and optimization of your business processes. You typically interact with Cordys-enabled services through this portal. The Cordys Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) provides actionable intelligence to managers, business process owners, and business analysts. BAM helps you identify patterns in repetitive business activities and transactions. The Cordys Web Workplace is a Web browser that provides a foundation for rich graphical user interface for building composite applications. The Cordys WS-AppServer allows organizations to implement new and additional business logic in Web services. You can deliver services within a controlled execution environment with it. The Cordys Master Data Management is a framework for ensuring that information is synchronized between multiple information systems. If data is stored in multiple repositories, this component makes sure that all stores are synchronized.
In addition, the Cordys Business Collaboration Platform contains several other parts. For developing applications and services and getting them to work together, Cordys Studio offers you a comprehensive development and testing environment to build and modify executable business processes and applications through business process management. This visual developer tool provides high productivity for building service-based applications.
In some cases, these types of applications require connectors outside of the traditional Web services architecture. These connectors provide specific data exchange gateways between certain commercial applications. For this purpose, you can use the Cordys Business Application Connectors. This functionality consists of business applications and database adapters and connectors.
The runtime portion of these components execute on another Cordys product, the Cordys Integrator, which is an enterprise service bus (ESB). Razavi explained, "We built our own ESB to take advantage of the strengths of our technology." While the Cordys Integrator is not sold as a separate offering, it forms the backbone of the software that is built or adapted by the other Cordys products. When used in conjunction, the components that make up the Cordys Business Collaboration Platform provide a comprehensive SOA development and deployment solution from a single vendor.
Cordys solutions have impressed other thought leaders in the industry. The company is rated as most visionary by Gartner in its Integrated Service Environment (ISE) Strategy Magic Quadrant. However, Cordys, like most vendors in this solution category, must still prove that it's able to execute on the ISE vision.
Furthermore, Cordys is in a highly competitive market, and perhaps its history of unwillingness to hype the company and its solutions before the solutions were on the market put Cordys at a market disadvantage. A declaration of intent from Cordys in the early days might have been a good marketing move. Then again, in 2001 when Cordys was founded, it was not clear that software architecture was headed towards SOA. And marketing products before they're finalized has backfired for other vendors, as development delays and unfilled promises bring the wrong kind of publicity, and leave little margin for error.
A second question revolves around the vertically-integrated product stack offered by Cordys. Vertical stacks from single vendors seemed to go out of style in the 1990s, making Cordys' offering seem like a throwback to earlier times. Most competitive vendors offer only a part of an SOA solution, which enables them to focus on their specific expertise and develop a best-of-breed solution. And the SOA concept implies that tools and solutions from a variety of vendors can interact and work well together.
In reality, the world is not usually as well organized as Cordys' product offering. Individual tools from separate companies are often better at discrete tasks. However, an SOA is more than a series of separate and discrete tasks. It is an interacting set of independent components, orchestrated to create an integrated and seamless application. Perhaps Cordys does have the right idea, with high-quality tools that are designed to work together to produce this type of integrated application.
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Peter Varhol is a principal at Technology Strategy Research LLC, an industry analysis and consulting firm.