1. Peter Schooff
  2. BPM Discussions
  3. Tuesday, 30 October 2018
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If you haven't already heard, IBM bought Red Hat for the tidy sum of $34 billion (here's the press release). What do you think of the deal, and what impact do you think it'll have on the BPM market?
Scott Francis Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Blog Writer
1. We just got a glimpse into the future for all of our favorite, successful, open source projects that have a commercial entity behind them. (think: MuleSoft, Redhat, Github, etc.) Each one has different deal logic, but at the end of the day, people who run open source companies want to do great work and get paid for doing it (and eventually, founders or shareholders will be offered a deal that is too good to turn down). So perhaps we can let go of the past pontification that people used to do about open source being better just because it wasn't "commercial" - it is a *different* business model, not a morally superior one, per se. (Also, it is a business model that has some distinct value add to clients, independent of any moral posturing! - like the ability to read the code, contribute, audit code, have more confidence in security, etc. )

2. It's just too early to know what this really means for process engines or rules engines (or on the BPM market). The deal logic, I feel confident, had nothing to do with JBPM or Drools. And yet we can be sure the IBM team responsible for BPM and ODM will be quite familiar with those products, their market positioning, etc.

3. I'm sure everyone competing with either of these will use the 6-9 months of "closing time" required to pursue a strategy of "you don't know what will happen to their products" ... but I think that strategy doesn't work very well with open source projects given that they are... open source. If IBM doesn't take good care of the people who maintain the projects, they can leave and take the projects with them (by either forking or dominating contributions). We've certainly seen our share of developers forking process engines in the BPM market :)
Good points all, and particularly the last. My friends at Red Hat have said also the same thing to me: if IBM doesn't make it attractive for them to stay, then all they'll have is a bunch of code they could've had for free, and nobody who understands it.
  1. E Scott Menter
  2. 2 weeks ago
yeah it is all about retaining the people- i hope ibm/redhat get that :)
  1. Scott Francis
  2. 1 week ago
John Reynolds Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
My first thought on learning about IBM's Red Hat purchase is that a lot of ex-IBMers who sought refuge at Red Hat are going to have a fond reunion with Lotus Notes ;-)

I can't really seeing anything good for customers coming out of this deal unless the Red Hat leadership team replaces key IBM execs. The IBMers are fine people, but ossified in their approaches to selling - horribly obsessed with the idea that something new and better will cannibalize an over-the-hill cash cow. Red Hat has thrived by not giving a darn about the threat of something new and disruptive.

So we'll have to wait and see if Big Blue meshes well with Open Red...

If the Red Hat attitude takes hold then we'll see the IBM+Red BPM offerings become truly relevant again. That would be great.
Founder at John Reynolds' Venture LLC - Creator of ¿?Trules™ for drama free decisions
Karl Walter Keirstead Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Little impact on consultants who have/have had a focus on onboarding corporations to "management by objectives\processes" with BPM as THE core methodology.

As for vendors who provide "toolkits" that allow corporations to "build" BPMs' (read "run-time workflow/workload" management platforms), I suppose this acquisition will have an impact.

My view is BPM has not been about building platforms for several years - i.e. from the time generic mapping, run-time workflow/workload management solutions became available.

The challenge has been to motivate operations managers to adopt a culture of "being the best they can be" as opposed to subscribing to "this is the way we do things here".
  1. http://www.kwkeirstead.wordpress.com
Tim Stephenson Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
A whole new meaning to the concept of 'purple people'?

@Scott I know there are those who do act morally superior about open source but personally I've always felt it was technically superior that mattered. It's very hard to resist drowning in technical debt or strategy tax over the medium to long term in a closed source company and very hard to hide if that is happening in open source.

Of course it's too early to say if the current or future IBM will be a good steward of the products we care about (in BPM and beyond) but there have been good moments in their past...

... yeah you're probably right; they were moments and a long time ago.
all i have to do is point to the whole android vs. iOS fiasco of marketing positioning to identify the "morally superior" open source attitude ;)
Also the presumption that open source is always superior... but i think open source tends to be technically superior in specific ways. and that doesn't always yield a great user experience (see: front ends for linux over the years, or android vs. iOS, etc. )

And it wasn't that long ago when IBM put $1B in spend into linux support/dev. they support open source when it is plumbing to where they are going to make money (read the red monks analysis on this - it was really clever, linked from a blog post on the bp3 site too).

(that said, i don't think pulling the same tricks on open shift is necessarily as easy as websphere on top of linux )
  1. Scott Francis
  2. 1 week ago
Dr Alexander Samarin Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
It is certainty a headache for many lucky owners of those “new-IBM” BPM tools who must decide: migrate to a better architecture, hibernate for a couple of years or build a serious internal competence (although those tools are open source, their natural complexity makes the cost of internal support prohibitive).

So, this is, unfortunately, yet another confirmation of the self-destructive mentality of the BPM industry.

E Scott Menter Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Blog Writer
A large commercial venture that improved, maintained, and distributed open source software has been acquired by a larger commercial venture: not exactly Faust. (For one thing, I don't see Larry Ellison emerging from the shadows with his demonic entourage gripping a fountain pen dipped in blood.)

There's no obvious reason for IBM to pony up that kind of cash if Linux—RHL in particular—weren't very important to their future. Oracle took Solaris out of play because (a) well... they're Oracle, and (b) the operating system was simply not the part of the stack they are selling. This deal feels different to me.

Then again... we live in weird, scary times. But if a Terminator named Watson shows up on my doorstep, at least I'll have one thing to fall back on...

"I don't see Larry Ellison emerging from the shadows with his demonic entourage gripping a fountain pen dipped in blood."
Well, then you haven't really followed what is starting to happen now with Java and mySQL :-)
  1. Bogdan Nafornita
  2. 1 week ago
Caspar Jans Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
From the customer's perspective I cannot imagine that they would be happy about this deal. The last couple of years I heard more and more companies that we afraid of vendor lock in, especially when looking at giants like SAP, Oracle and IBM. And then they incorporate another technology stack which, in my view, automatically leads to a larger risk of vendor lock in for their customers.

So, even though it will probably make perfect sense for IBM, I'm afraid the effect for its customers is not positive in the long run.
BPM is all about mindset first and toolset later....much later
"it will probably make perfect sense for IBM, I'm afraid the effect for its customers is not positive in the long run."
If you're a big enough IT vendor, that's actually not a contradiction - it's a business model :-)
  1. Bogdan Nafornita
  2. 1 week ago
Sad, but so, so true.

Then again, it does make room for new players :-)
  1. Tim Stephenson
  2. 1 week ago
David Chassels Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Ah so another acquisition of mature innovator...IBM does not really do R&D in software as they acquire and then work out how to merge all their acquired tech into a marketing message! As for this one sure open source has its place for tech components but for solutions it is not better just different..indeed could be expensive to deliver custom adaptive solutions which support the BPM discipline? The rise of the no / low code movement will usurp coding at enterprise level and will dramatically reduce costs which will hit IBM hard..it's what disruption does! So Red Hat shareholder grab the money..it's coming....and maybe paying such a high price might help the BPM movement....?

Some might find this story interesting which supports IBMs lack of real research into new ways. About 15 years ago as we were explaining "how" our no code approach worked by first identifying generics task types which support all business logic then we worked out how to store in relational database. An ex IBM employee then chipped in saying IBM had thought of it but discarded as not possible....! Well then some years later Microsoft tried to Patent but too late our prior art of many years prevents any patents.

My conclusion if innovative technology can't be patented big vendors will not do it and ignore hoping it will fade into oblivion...so they buy those that have a maturity to maintain their market position and dominance....it's the way commerce works ...but that might change...we should all live in hope it does for the better good of many not the few!
"IBM does not really do R&D in software as they acquire and then work out how to merge all their acquired tech into a marketing message"

The actual scenario goes farther than just that, as they merge the acquired code into their codebase as well, possibly removing most of the innovative features in there.
  1. Bogdan Nafornita
  2. 1 week ago
Max J. Pucher Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Blog Writer
What is the impact? NONE! BPM will morph, change or adapt to retain the name regardless of what IBM does. Red Hat is not really about BPM anyway. So at least some people in the open source community made really good money. Good for them!
That's what I would answer. Why is this question on a BPM forum?
  1. Emiel Kelly
  2. 2 weeks ago
Bogdan Nafornita Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
1/ I'm sceptical about IBM (a central-command, control-freak, "type X" organizational environment) being able to successfully "bluewash" an open-source culture (which is essentially "type Y" ) ;

2/ my forecast is that jBPM, Drools will be tolerated if attached services will be proven to command higher margins than typical IBM services (most likely not).

There's probably a bunch of BPM implementation companies that base their stack around jBPM that would have to eventually look elsewhere if jBPM is sidelined.

So, this may turn out to be an opportunity for some more innovative open-source engines to scrape those partners from the bottom of IBM's partner pool.
CEO, Co-founder, Profluo

I wonder why folks would be scratching at the door for "open source" in a domain like workflow/workload management where all you need basically is an ability to map, a run-time platform (office and portal), plus a data exchange capability?

My developers find it amusing that we go to great lengths here internally to protect our source - they figure we could hand out our 1,500,000 lines of code at street corners and nothing would happen.

They say all of our current releases have major upgrades under test, plus 2-3 experimental designs on the drawing board.
A much better piece echoing my concerns from an alumni of both companies:
IBM, You Bought a Gem. Don't Screw it Up!
  1. Bogdan Nafornita
  2. 1 week ago
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