Big Blue launches WebSphere Business Events

LAS VEGAS — At its Impact SOA conference Monday, IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) announced WebSphere Business Events, a software package that lets business managers use their policies and program “triggers” into their IT systems.

“I have to be able to tell the system if this happens and this happens and this happens, I create this filter that I want to be able to take an action,” said Tom Rosamilia, IBM’s general manager for WebSphere Software. “And maybe I want to alert somebody or maybe I want to kick off a business process, so this is where the tie-in to business process management comes in.”

WebSphere Business Events is part of IBM’s effort to help business managers use service oriented architecture to help meet their goals.

For example, Rosamilia said, WebSphere Business Events could be used to send an alert to sales staff when a customer does certain things, such as visit a Web site a certain number of times.

It could also be used by financial services companies to detect possible cases of fraud. “Maybe I’ve got credit card purchases that are occurring,” he said during a keynote address at the MGM Grand arena. “I see I have a credit card purchase in Las Vegas and then I see one in Munich and I see them within three hours. Maybe that’s a credit card fraud that’s occurring, so it’s the combination of things that independently don’t mean much, but correlated mean a lot.”

WebSphere Business Events uses technology that IBM inherited when it acquired Absoft in January, and this lets IBM use service oriented architecture in a different way, said Stefan Ried, Frankfurt-based senior analyst for serving vendor strategy professionals at Forrester Research.

“Absoft was basically one of the premium companies in this space of complex event processing, and no question that that is a complimentary part of service oriented architecture,” Ried said in an interview.

Previously, SOA used well-defined relationships between processes, Ried added.

“Event processing is quite the opposite of it,” Ried said. “It means you don’t have a process yet but you have something happening in your enterprise. People in various applications start to understand what they can make out of this event, so that’s a kind of opposite way to look at business logic. It turns out some business logic is implemented by business process management but the other kind of business logic is better implemented with complex event processing. I’m very pleased that IBM acquired Absoft.”

One company that uses WebSphere Business Events is Bannockburn, Ill.-based Active Care Network LLC, a health services firm that offers training and injection services.

Active Care’s CIO, Tom Brady, said during a panel discussion that Active Care needs to take into account several factors when scheduling a patient for an injection. For example, the patient has to be able to get to a location, the nurse has to be available, the nurse has to be properly trained and the drug has to be properly prescribed. It can also trigger alerts to call patients who need multiple injections within a given period of time.

“If you think about this, I’ve got all these buckets of events that I’m starting to collect,” Brady said. “I didn’t see any way that I could put all of these events together.” Active Care eventually installed Absoft’s product, the precursor to WebSphere Business Events.

At Impact SOA, IBM also announced Banking Framework for Customer Care and Insight, which uses service-oriented architecture to let financial services companies get better use of their customer data and create marketing campaigns around this.

“Financial services companies struggle a lot with the myriad of different customer record systems they have,” said Steve Mills, senior vice-president and group executive for IBM’s Software Group. “They originate loans; they have different forms of accounts that are set up for customers, often disparate collections of customer data across the organization. What this is designed to do is federate that data and bring that information into one common form of structure.”

Mills said this is the 16th product in the Industry Frameworks group, which is comprised of interfaces, with mappings, connectors and adapters for various business software packages, targeted at companies in specific industries such as manufacturing, telecommunications, retail and oil and gas.

Other products announced at Impact SOA include WebSphere Virtual Enterprise. The company also started the SOA Social Network, which lets IT professionals, academics and solution providers share information through various forums.

“There’s not much new in terms of products,” Ried said. “They are new versions of (existing) products. The social networking around SOA is quite an interesting thing because that helps really to put the demand and the supply of services together beyond the boundaries of the enterprise and this was a major challenge until now.”

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