IBM Makes SOA Play with AptSoft Buy

AptSoft's products will touch on such IBM product portfolios as WebSphere and Tivoli and will support newer investments in RFID and Web 2.0 capabilities.

IBM is looking to beef up its service-oriented architecture portfolio by buying AptSoft, a private company that develops infrastructure software to help companies determine cause-and-effect relationships between business events.

The financial terms of the deal, which was announced Jan. 23, were undisclosed.

AptSoft, based in Burlington, Mass., develops software that falls into the complex event processing category of software that works within a SOA (service-oriented architecture) framework to help trigger BPM (business process management) events. AptSoft's software spans a number of areas in IBM's vast product portfolio groups, including WebSphere, Information Management and Tivoli. IBM also plans to fold AptSoft into newer product categories that include RFID and Web 2.0 capabilities, areas where IBM has ramped up investment over the past couple of years.

AptSoft's products will become part of the IBM Software Group WebSphere brand.

Complex event processing software helps companies identify patterns and establish connections between events. Once the software determines a trend in events - whether they occur over a millisecond or over hours or days - it initiates a business process trigger. AptSoft's namesake Director for CEP is a platform that runs on a company's network, where it monitors and correlates activities across applications, Web services, databases and devices, according AptSoft. Based on user-defined rules, the software detects events or patterns - a new customer is added, a product is sold but a shipment isn't scheduled, a prospect researches the same topic on a company's Web site for a week - and then orchestrates the disparate elements of the infrastructure to execute a process.

Where AptSoft fits into IBM's SOA strategy is in its ability to enable a SOA framework that supports what AptSoft refers to as a new class of composite applications - those applications that are made up of "Web services, events from services and events from an event cloud of people, devices, applications, databases and networks," according to the company's Web site. The software is geared both toward IT and business analysts who often are on the front lines creating process changes based on changes in their business.

"As SOA continues to evolve, companies are linking event processing and BPM to gain deeper insight into the transactions and events that shape their business and industries as a whole," Frank Chisholm, former CEO and founder of AptSoft, said in a statement.

Event processing is becoming more viable - and critical - for companies as they look to get more out of the massive investments made in transactional systems in the 1990s. Another sign of this trend is the ongoing consolidation in the business intelligence sector, where IBM plays a big role. The company is in the midst of acquiring Cognos for about $5 billion in a deal that is expected to close this quarter. Cognos develops BI software that focuses on performance management capabilities that link enterprise strategy to core processes and activities in planning, budgeting and reporting functions.

In March 2007, Oracle bought Hyperion for $3.3 billion, and in early January, SAP closed on its $6.7 billion acquisition of Business Objects. Both Oracle and SAP will utilize their BI acquisitions to build out more intelligence capabilities for customers, particularly in the area of performance management.