Theres been increased overlap and cross-pollination among business process management, enterprise application integration, service-oriented architectures and Web services management. Given this trend, and the confusion and deployment problems it can cause for corporations, it can make very good sense to combine all these capabilities within a single product suite.
This is exactly what Unify Corp.s NXJ 10.5, released in August, has done. Unify NXJ 10.5 combines capable tools for EAI, BPM, forms processing, and Web services creation and management with solid administration, deployment and reporting tools.
While few of the tools in the Unify NXJ 10.5 suite are best of breed, they are all quite good, and the suites emphasis on usability has resulted in some of the easiest-to-use tools weve seen for carrying out these tasks and building integrated business applications and processes.
Unify has also made the sensible decision to use excellent third-party tools when appropriate, such as Systinet Corp.s WASP (Web Applications and Services Platform) for Web service development and the open-source Eclipse application development environment.
Developer pricing for Unify NXJ 10.5 ranges from $3,000 to $11,500 per seat, and deployment costs start at $18,000 per CPU. This clearly places Unify NXJ on the affordable side when compared with other products in the BPM, EAI and SOA marketplace.
Installation and setup of Unify NXJ was simple and painless, and we were creating and managing applications and processes in no time. The server-side components run on most platforms and support a wide array of application servers and databases. All the browser-based interfaces work with most Web browsers. However, on the client side, all development and design tools work only on Windows systems, a limitation that Unify NXJ shares with most competing products.
In business processes, the most common applications tend to be forms-based. The form-processing designer in Unify NXJ, with good drag-and-drop capabilities and a broad set of form action options, made it simple for us to create the form we needed.
The BPM designer was also easy to use, letting us create fairly complex workflows and process orchestrations. However, wed like to see some of the more complex developer-oriented features that other products offer. In addition, there was no way to import existing orchestrations into the designer—we would appreciate an option to import Microsoft Corp. Visio designs or standards-based options.
The application integration features were generally solid. Simple usability is clearly the emphasis, although Version 10.5 does add some welcome source-code repository features that leverage the open-source CVS (Concurrent Versions System) standard .
One nice feature in Unify NXJ 10.5 is the inclusion of a portal interface for developers and users to access and manage the applications and processes they are working on. We found this to be an effective and sensible way to handle these types of processes.
Labs Director Jim Rapoza can be reached at [email protected].