Ilog Hones in on Web Services

Ilog Inc. is looking at its experience with business rules to make it a leader in the Web services space.

Ilog Inc. is looking at its experience with business rules to make it a leader in the Web services space, said the companys head of research and development.

Jean-Francios Abramatic, Ilogs senior vice president of research and development, said Ilog will leverage its expertise in business rules technology to get in on the hot Web services opportunity, and that the company is integrating its product lines to further take advantage. The first "integrated" product will be available in a few weeks, Abramatic said.

"Business rules really fits with the Web services infrastructure," Abramatic said. Ilogs JRules can be embedded within Web services on application server platforms so that users can apply business rules or policies consistently across business transactions and processes, he said.

"Web services allows you to integrate applications that have been deployed independently of each other and to talk to each other," Abramatic said. "The key challenge is to put the business user in control."

Prior to Web services, Abramatic said, "when you expected to integrate applications together the business user made the request and it went to the IT department and a developer got involved. With the Web services paradigm, this connection can be done automatically by the end user. And thats where business rules are at their best," he said. Ilog business rules can be used to make the underlying logic that enables Web services process flow and composition, dynamic and easy to change, he added. The companys rules engine software allows business users to ultimately control the changes made to business processes.

Abramatic said the opportunity Web services represents for Ilogs business rules is "an order of magnitude" ahead of where the company is today. He said to help companies pilot Web services, call Web services in deployed environments and to orchestrate Web services together ranks as "a great opportunity for Ilog."

Indeed, Abramatic said it could be enough to change the product revenue mix of the company, which has been moving toward integration. Ilog has three main business areas: visualization tools, optimization tools and business rules technology. Business rules is the fastest growing piece of the company, he said. Visualization is oldest and has the largest installed base, he said. And optimization brings in a larger portion of the companys revenue, but the business rules opportunity with Web services "is a big opportunity because we can make a serious significant change," Abramatic said.

Web services also enables Ilog to get closer to its customers, Abramatic said. "The closer you get to the end user the more we can integrate the three units of our company," he said. For instance, Ilog is planning to leverage its strength in visualization to add visualization capabilities to what its rules engine is doing, or to add visualization to what its optimization software is doing.

And the first clear example of this integration will be in the next version of the companys JConfigurator product, which is expected in July. Abramatic said JConfigurator will integrate Ilogs business rules technology with the companys optimization solution. The product will support the Simple Open Access Protocol (SOAP) as an access protocol instead of a proprietary or other method. "It will be Web services compliant, Abramatic said.

In addition, Ilog is working to integrate its visualization software – Views and JViews with its business rules technology in an upcoming release of those products.

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