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Bosch drives into the rule engine market

Bosch has joined the club. On September 8, 2008 The Bosch Group acquired Innovations Software Technology. Both companies are based in Germany. This move heats up the BRE/BRMS market consolidation that was already sizzling:

Sep. 2008 –The Bosch Group acquired Innovations Software Technology
Jul. 2008 - IBM announced their intent to buy ILOG
Nov. 2007 – RuleBurst acquired Haley Rules
Oct. 2007 – SAP acquired Yasu
Aug. 2007 – Trilogy acquired Gensym
Oct. 2006 – Planet Group acquired ACI Worldwide
Jan. 2006 – Trilogy acquired Versata
Jan. 2006 – MDA acquired Mindbox
Sep. 2005 – Fair Isaac acquired RulesPower

(click to see the new BRE Family Tree

Oracle and Microsoft entered the business rule engine (BRE) market by building their own rule engine technology. Competitors, however, took a different approach. Global technology leaders IBM and SAP acquired BRE vendors ILOG and Yasu. Insurance software vendor MDA acquired BRE vendor Mindbox. And rule engine vendors Fair Isaac and Trilogy acquired smaller BRE vendors RulesPower, Versata, and Gensym.

I asked David S. Kim, Managing Director and CEO of Innovations Software Technology, to share his thoughts and tell us what this means to customers, end-users, and to the rules market. Here’s what he had to say in our email discussion.

How does the Bosch acquisition of Innovations compare to the other acquisitions and consolidation in the rules industry?

“The big difference is that we were not acquired to have our product line integrated into a stack of other software. We were acquired to be the core of a new software and systems company within The Bosch Group. We will be creating new technologies and value chains within Bosch and open the door to new lines of business,” Kim said.

Why did Bosch decide to buy the company, Innovations Technology, instead of simply licensing the Visual Rules business rules management software?

“The Bosch Group purchased Innovations as the core of a new software company. Rather than create their own, they decided to purchase Innovations Software Technology, an already profitable and successful company. Visual Rules, our market-leading BRMS, is our most well-known product and is in use world-wide. 

However, we also have industry leading solutions for the financial industry, such as our Basel II credit risk rating platform, anti-money laundering and private banking CRM. All of these solutions have been deployed successfully throughout the European Union, Switzerland and the U.S. In addition, our company provides software and technology development work for corporations.

Buying Innovations gave Bosch the ability to not only have a profitable subsidiary, but also a software and technology development group that can immediately deliver results. We’ll immediately start developing software and technology solutions for Bosch customers and partners worldwide, along with assisting The Bosch Group with creating additional fields of business.”

Everybody knows I like engines, especially rule engines. I also like cars. To me, Bosch means cars and quality.  Are we going to see embedded rule engines “driving” cruise control systems and “steering” future automobiles? Or rulebased systems controlling intelligent sensors and industrial machinery?

“Bosch provides ‘technology’ to most of the major automotive companies throughout the world, but it’s also important to know that Bosch is in a variety of other industries including medical, energy management, appliances, electronic sensors, etc

I’ve attached a [diagram below] that shows how the Visual Rules Enterprise Platform is already in use throughout various industries and also embedded in systems such as mobile phones, train engines, and postal routing systems. We have a tremendous amount of expertise in embedding rules into machinery, and the possibilities are endless.”

How does this acquisition shake up the business rules market?

“Innovations Software Technology, or Innovations Softwaretechnologie, as we are known in Germany, has been known in the U.S. as a ‘small company’ based in Europe. In reality, we have over 125 employees world-wide, and were aggressively expanding in the North and Latin American markets, as well as APAC (Asia Pacific) before the acquisition. We have always been self-funded and never needed any venture capital or private equity placement.

What the market will see is the same Innovations Software Technology, but with the resources and ability to deliver our software and solutions much more effectively. We will also be able to provide services and support internationally, along with seeing accelerated product development lifecycles.

Our Visual Rules Modeler already provides an incredible set of robust functionality that allows for the creation of the most complex rule sets, but in an intuitive graphical manner. Look for us to continue to improve our product line, and also the addition of other products that compliment the use of Visual Rules in Enterprise environments.”

How will this affect Visual Rules customers?

“Our customers have consistently given us praise on the level of support we provide to them, even in the pre-sales environment. This will not change, except that we will have even more resources to deliver this same level of support. We’ll also look at different ways we can streamline our operations internationally.

In regards to our BRMS product, Visual Rules, our customers know that we provide robust new features and functionality in our point releases, and we’ll continue to constantly improve our product’s features and functionality. If you take a look at what we offered in our 4.0 platform, which was released on April 15th, 2008 and most recently our 4.2 release, you’ll see that we added features such as rule dependency graphs,  rule documentation in PDF format, hot swap Java API, ability to graphically compare test results and much more.

Therefore, our Visual Rules customers should expect the same continued product innovation, services and support and the addition of complimentary products to our Visual Rules Enterprise Platform.”

What makes Visual Rules unique or different than other rule engines?

“Here are a few of our unique selling points:

  • Fully graphical approach for modeling, documenting, testing, debugging and monitoring of complex decision logic
  • Covers full Java functionality concerning data models and algorithms that can be modeled, including iterations, exception handling, maps, lists, and sets
  • No need for any programming or for defining a domain-specific business language
  • Model-driven approach ensures synchrony of model, executable code and documentation
  • Decisions are easy traceable in detail within the graphical representation via execution statistics and highlighted execution paths
  • Rule execution order always complies to the rules' business context
  • Highest performance due to generation of executable Java code that does not require any inference or interpretation at runtime
  • Top-notch graphical authoring for the best possible user guidance
  • Extraordinarily affordable licensing and pricing models, leading to the lowest TCO and highest cost/benefit ratio in the BRM market”

What advantages does your rulebased product offer companies, users and developers who are still building procedural hard-wired programs?

“I think that the market in general has grasped the idea that externalizing your rules from the application allows for true agility and empowers the business to manage the rules that govern their decisions and policies. What our product offers is the most intuitive, easy-to-learn graphical interface that empowers the user to manage end to end rule lifecycle management, including extensive testing capability, technical integration and rule documentation in PDF or HTML format. The rules can also be integrated into or accessible by the application in several flexible ways, allowing for faster transitions to externalized rules. Our product is available for a free 30 day trial, where you can see and use all of features and functionality of Visual Rules.”

Can you share examples or metrics of benefits your customers have actually have achieved using rulebased technology and the business rules approach vs. traditional imperative (hard-coded) languages?

“We have a white paper that clearly outlines the advantages of the business rules approach.  It’s available at:  http://www.innovations-software.com/fileadmin/pdf-en/white-paper/visual-rules-benefits.pdf

Rulebased systems help companies comply with rules. And they help employees follow the rules.  How does Visual Rules or rulebased technology make a difference?

“Every company has rules, decisions and policies. It’s hard to find any department within an enterprise that can’t take advantage of using Visual Rules, from automating processes, managing risk, monitoring financial transactions for fraud, etc.”

David, Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the business of rules and the state of the rules market!

Rolando, thank you for the opportunity to tell you about the acquisition and about our product. -- David

 

NOTE 1: As I was writing this blog I thought of a few more questions for David: What does he think of the Rete algorithm? And how does their Visual Rules Modeler fit in a world where visual modeling for processes (BPMN) and object-oriented software modeling (UML) is growing in importance? 

Microsoft announcemed two days ago that they joined OMG to help advance process modeling standards and develop new software modeling technologies.  Is Innovations following or setting standards for rule modeling? I'd like to know. I'll post his comments here so check back in a few days.

NOTE 2: Innovations is the gold sponsor of October Rules Fest, the conference on rulesbased and knowledgebased systems. The conference will be in Dallas, TX on Oct. 22-24.

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Comments

The BRE Family Tree packs a lot of great information. Thanks for sharing. Btw, what are the R's, J's and C's in the chart? E.g. I see a J on the row for Oracle/Business Rules and a C for Haley Systems. There is no legend that explains it.

thanks
Rao

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