There's plenty of talk today about the deal where Progress Software Corporation (PSC) is buying BPM vendor Savvion for about $49million – Sandy Kemsley brought it to my attention last night (in Australia) via Twitter, followed by her blog post.
My immediate reaction via Twitter was
@skemsley re PSC:Savvion – makes sense. PSC used to partner with Lombardi for BPM, probably wanted a new dance partner after IBM purchase 🙂
— Ric Hayman (@aqualung) January 11, 2010
and it's still my thought that this is a defensive move by PSC – BPM and SOA are each other's "killer app", and Progress was missing the BPM part of the story. It would be interesting to see the respective timelines the IBM:Lombardi and PSC:Savvion deals have taken … in the absence of their own BPM solution Progress have been recommending Lombardi for some time now (I'm not sure how formal the arrangement was), but it's telling that the IBM purchase was a pre-deal announcement and the deal doesn't close for some time yet, whereas the Progress purchase closes any minute – the deal was done before it was announced. So was Progress blind-sided by IBM (and react very quickly), or has the Savvion deal been going for some time now?
Most commentary I've seen so far seems to think it's a good deal – the key element I think is that there is little or no overlap with the existing PSC products (Apama CEP, Sonic SOA kit) and it DOES plug a gap in the PSC offering. It also means Progress doesn't get frozen out of the BPM market by SOA competitors like Oracle and IBM et al, when the SOA/BPM combination is becoming critical for many organisations.
There's a couple of naysayers, though: Jon Pyke of Cordys seems to think it's a waste of time and seems inclined to bag Savvion … although that may just be his biases showing 🙂 . His contention that the deal is not about innovation (and therefore valueless) is rather disingenuous – the deal ISN'T about innovation, but that's not where it's value comes from – it's about consolidation, defensive strengthening of the PSC portfolio and giving Savvion a platform for international growth.
Bruce Silver has a more philosophical concern with the deal: that the business-oriented BPM tools will become submerged and lost in the technical SOA world at both IBM and Progress (Malcolm Ross of Appian comforts Bruce in a comment on the post that is worth reading too!). While I agree with the concern that Lombardi will lose focus at IBM, and that PSC's strength in technical, rather than business, could mean that Savvion stops talking to the right people, I'm more comfortable with Savvion's chances. Progress has a habit of allowing acquisitions a considerable amount of autonomy (Sonic Software wasn't completely folded into PSC for some years) and separate identity. They are also conscious of their technical bent and are trying to get more "business-friendly" with their operational responsiveness theme.
John Bates of PSC gives his ten reasons for the purchase – Sandy Kemsley quipped that he left out an 11th:
@gilesnelson in the "10 reasons" post, he forgot "Because Lombardi was already taken" 😉
— Sandy Kemsley (@skemsley) January 11, 2010
as I mentioned above, I'm not convinced that was the case, but it's a distinct possibility!
[update: disclosure – I used to be a Progress customer (until I quit the job and set up by myself) so I'm pretty familiar with PSC's existing portfolio]