IBM Buys AptSoft To Boost BPM-SOA Line

IBM officials today announced the acquisition of Burlington, Mass.-based AptSoft Corp., a privately held business event processing software provider.

The acquisition enhances IBM's current business process management (BPM) and service-oriented architecture (SOA) solutions, according to Ed Lynch, product manager and transition executive for IBM's business integration portfolio.

"We see this as completely complementary to what we're doing with SOA," Lynch said in a press conference call. "So this will be extending capability that we already have in our SOA platform and it further helps in the BPM-enabled-by-SOA effort by providing this line-of-business tooling and allowing the line of business to express. So this [acquisition] will show up as a standalone product, but it will be an extension of the portfolio."

AptSoft's technology will be used with some of IBM's WebSphere products, DB2 Real-Time Insight and Tivoli NetCool products, according to a press release announcing the acquisition.

IBM is acquiring AptSoft's runtime and tooling, as well as its team, according to Sandy Carter, IBM's vice president of SOA and WebSphere strategies, channels and marketing. AptSoft currently has about 19 customers, with most in the business-to-business space.

AptSoft's business event processing technology sounds like "complex event processing." However, in response to a question from a member of the press, Carter explained that IBM prefers the former term.

"In the marketplace today, everybody talks about complex event processing," Carter said. "We actually are trying to rename that category, because we believe the real value is in business event processing, with a focus on the business."

AptSoft's former CEO and founder, Frank Chisholm, explained how AptSoft's business event processing solution works.

"It provides the ability for the line of business people (the business analysts and business management groups) to define business events that are actionable business events. To define the correlation of patterns that they want to identify. And then to define the actions that they want to take place as a result of recognizing those patterns."

AptSoft's technology can be used to anticipate price drops in financial markets. It can help spot "unscrupulous activities" in multiplayer online game environments. It can also be used in retail sales to track sales rates, according to IBM's press release.

Chisholm explained that IBM's main interest in acquiring AptSoft was that AptSoft's solutions let business users gain control over defining the actionable events.

"The unique capability, and the excitement that IBM and AptSoft shared, was the instrumentation of defining and managing those definitions," Chisholm said. "And one of the things that AptSoft concentrated on, and that IBM is very keen on, is that interface and the usability of that by the business community."

AptSoft currently provides "the most intuitive tools for business-led authoring and management of event-based rules," according to Carter.

"AptSoft really elevates event processing to the business level instead of at the deep technology level," she said. "Today, typically only engineers understand events, but what we want to do is make sure that the business can leverage these business signals."

Carter added that IBM currently invests about a billion dollars into this particular space, which includes the AptSoft acquisition as well as existing R&D labs in Haifa, Israel and in the United States.

Lynch speculated that the AptSoft technology integration with IBM WebSphere might happen around early summer but that a future roadmap would be disclosed at the next IBM Impact event.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor, Enterprise Group, at 1105 Media Inc.