Web Services Pioneer Glass Leaves WebMethods

CTO steps down and says he plans to start a new company focused on education.

Graham Glass, founder of successful software companies, supporter of Web services and service-oriented architectures, and former chief technology officer at webMethods Inc., has announced his resignation from the business integration software vendor.

Glass, who joined Fairfax, Va.-based webMethods when the company acquired Glass previous venture, The Mind Electric Inc. (TME), in October of 2003, said he is leaving webMethods to form a start-up focusing on the education market.

Glass said he resigned "to pursue other interests." According to his Web log, those interests are: "Specifically, Ive decided to start a new company focused on education."

Glass said hes always been a teacher at heart and he is just going back to what he has long wanted to do.

"After many years of working on enterprise software, Ive decided to get back to my training roots and start a fourth and as-yet unnamed product company focused on improving the education system," he said. "Although the product itself will be an easy-to-use Web-based application targeted at K-12 students, teachers and parents, the underlying software infrastructure will be quite complex and utilize many concepts from the semantic Web."

webMethods released word of Glass resignation last week as part of a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Kristin Weller Muhlner, webMethods executive vice president for product development, is acting as interim CTO while the company looks for a new one, the SEC filing said.

Citing his love for teaching, Glass said: "I studied Computer Science, earning a BS from the University of Southampton and an MS from the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD). After a short stint as a lead developer for a Dallas-based oil and gas company, I decided to start teaching Computer Science at UTD for a paltry $27,000 a year in order to devote more time to research neural networks and biological systems."

Moreover, Glass said, "I found that I had a knack for explaining complex topics in simple terms, as well as making classes fun through the use of interesting projects and analogies. Eventually, I published some books that captured what I had learnt during my UTD teaching years, the most popular of which is called Unix for Programmers and Users."

Launching from his interest in teaching, Graham said he started his first company because of teaching. "I enjoyed teaching so much that I then started my first company, ObjectLesson, which taught topics like Unix, object-oriented analysis and design, and object-oriented programming... At this point, I was essentially a professional instructor, although my heart was really into product development. After a couple of years, Id had enough of full-time teaching and co-founded my second company, ObjectSpace."

Meanwhile, ObjectSpace focused on object-oriented technologies and grew to around 250 employees, Glass said. "I started the ObjectSpace training department, taught full-time for about a year, and then started the companys product group. The most well-known product from ObjectSpace was Voyager, a multi-protocol object request broker that was particularly easy to use.

"I left the company in 2000 after a disagreement about its strategic direction and founded my third company, The Mind Electric. The Mind Electric released two products, Glue and Gaia. Glue was an easy-to-use Java Web services platform, and Gaia was a Web services management platform."

webMethods sought to gain the Glue Web services platform for building distributed applications and the Gaia Web services fabric, which facilitated management of environments with multiple Web services. And webMethods went on to rename the products webMethods Glue and webMethods Fabric. As a standards-based solution, webMethods Fabric helped webMethods to break free of its proprietary integration mode and focus on an enterprise service-oriented architecture, bridging the worlds of J2EE, .Net, Web services and legacy systems, the company said.

At the same time that webMethods acquired TME, the company also acquired DataChannel Inc. for its portal technology and The Dante Group Inc. for its business activity monitoring software.

/zimages/1/28571.gifClick here to read more about the acquisitions.

Ron Schmelzer, an analyst at ZapThink LLC, in Waltham, Mass., said, "First of all, Graham is an entrepreneur," citing the companies he has launched. Added Schmelzer: "WebMethods never really took advantage of the thought leadership and incredible intelligence of Graham. They had the opportunity to shift their tightly-coupled, so-1990s approach to integration to the service-oriented vision of the future. But they squandered that opportunity.

"WebMethods is still pretty much the same company they were when they brought Graham in," Schmelzer said. "Sure, they added a few products and made some cosmetic changes, mostly leveraging the hype around Web services and SOA [service oriented architecture], but by and large, webMethods never really made the sort of strategic shift that you think they would have by bringing aboard a thought leader like Graham."

Schmelzer said ZapThink employees even wagered on how long Glass might last at webMethods. "We thought that there was surely a cultural clash to come, and it would be a matter of time before he left," Schmelzer said. "Well, that time is now. webMethods really has to think about their role in a loosely coupled world where integration is a side-effect of implementing architecture. That will require more of a change than simply hiring someone and spouting the right terms. They need to avoid the fate that is befalling the rest of their industry. With SeeBeyond gone [acquired by Sun Microsystems] and others flailing, its a matter of time before WebMethods makes a significant shift (or gets acquired) themselves."

Overall, Schmelzer said he is concerned for the entire enterprise application architecture (EAI) market.

Anne Thomas Manes, an analyst with Burton Group Inc., said, "Graham is an invaluable resource for any company. I dont think webMethods truly appreciated what they had, and they certainly didnt utilize him effectively."

webMethods announced Glass resignation in an 8-K filing with the SEC, and Glass disclosed more of his plans in his blog Monday.

Muhlner, Glass interim replacement, previously served as webMethods vice president of professional services and customer care.

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