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September 12, 2008

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.

Continue reading "Bosch drives into the rule engine market" »

July 29, 2008

BRE Family Tree update shows IBM ILOG acquisition

The latest BRE Family Tree update is here. There you can download the new family tree in jpg, png, or tif formats. We have redesigned the family tree to show a lot more information than before. To make the chart less commercial, we got rid of the colors that indicated which BRE vendors were BIZRULES partners. Now the chart can be used by anyone, vendor, salesman, consultant, or customer who wants to see "the state of the BRE market" or who wants a guide to help them select their BRE vendor.

This new diagram also shows the connection to Rete, CLIPS, Jess, and Drools. Rule engines that use the Rete algorithm have an "R" flag. Engines based on CLIPS have a "C" flag. and engines based on Jess have a "J" flag.

We also show what environments each rule engine runs on (i.e. COBOL, C++, Java, and .Net), and whether it runs natively on that environment. This section is still under construction. We've asked BRE vendors to confirm this information, so we can finalize this section. We planned to present this chart for the first time at the upcoming October Rules Fest conference in Dallas, TX.  But now that IBM and ILOG are uniting, I thought you would like to see this chart now.  If you are a vendor representative, please take a look at your product data and let us know if we missed anything or if you'd like to update your product information. 

This is a guide to many of the leading BRE vendors that we are familiar with. It is not an exhaustive or complete list - there are probably other BREs on the market and not on the list that we haven't even heard of yet. Let us know who you are!  This guide is a good start for companies trying to evaluate and assess the BRE market. 

If you need more information about these BRE vendors, or if you need help selecting the best and the right rule engine for your particular needs, call BIZRULES at 305.994.9510. Some of you have asked for the BRE Family Tree poster... Call us for info about that.

BRE Family Tree 2008

July 28, 2008

IBM sets the course and ILOG steers the Ship

IBM is one of the few companies that sets the course in technology. Now they will use ILOG to steer the ship.

IBM has announced their intention to buy ILOG for $340 million USD. ILOG is widely recognized as one of the leading BRMS software vendors.

This move helps legitimize business rules management systems (BRMS) and rule engine technology. This will shake up the playing field in the BRMS/BRE space as ILOG BRMS competitors aligned with and partnered with IBM will need to rethink their strategy and technology.

Integrating ILOG BRMS with IBM's BPM and SOA technologies will also raise the bar in the BPM/BRMS space. Pegasystems has been a leader in the BPM/BRMS space, which Pega basically invented, ever since they released their PRPC PegaRULES Process Commmander product. BPM vendors lacking BRE capabilities are going to have to start OEMing a BRE tool, building one, or buying one like IBM did.

This move also speeds up the BRMS market consolidation that has been picking up steam in recent years. Last year SAP acquired the Yasu rule engine, and Ruleburst (previously SoftLaw) acquired Haley Rules. Prior to that, of course, Fair Isaac acquired RulesPower, and Trilogy bought Versata then Gensym. Going further back, CA bought Platinum Technology (which had acquired AION and the AION BRE). AION, of course, was started by a bunch of ex-IBMers, who wanted to improve on IBM's TIRS (The Integrated Reasoning Solution) mainframe rule engine, who left IBM to develop the AION rule engine. After TIRS, IBM began working on Common Rules. That IBM rule technology and research effort could be combined with ILOG's BRMS tool in the future.

IBM also plans to embed ILOG rules technology across its broad product offerings, further strengthening their products and further legitimizing rules technology.

The business rules market is alive and well. The tools are getting better. The vendors are getting larger. The methodologies are getting easier. As rules-based tools become more widely adopted, companies will be able to spend more time designing quality rules and managing effective rules, and less time worrying about the rule engine technology under the hood.

Companies that resisted rules technologies and methodologies in the past almost missed the boat. Now they have another chance to get on board the rules express.  IBM is ready to rule again.

See also:

 

 

March 13, 2008

Introducing the BIZRULES® RuleMap™

Documenting business rules is a good first step on the path towards the business rules approach.

But sometimes that's not enough.  Taking the next step and getting to the next level requires simulating business rules so they are easy to review and verify.

Over the past few months BIZRULES has been working on a new product that lets us do both. It's a visual tool that lets us not only draw diagrams of business rule models, it also lets us simulate the rule logic. This tool helps us speed up the rules harvesting process and improves the quality of our rulebooks.

BIZRULES® RuleMap™ is an interactive rulebook that models business rules and simulates business logic.  This logical model lets you see how your business rules really work. It lets you visualize the Reasoning Chain™ that leads to smart conclusions and right decisions.


We use this tool to document your business rules independent of any BRE - yet it can be implemented using any BRE. Again, this is a logical model of your business rules.  It can be used as the rulebook or specs for authoring the rules in any BRE.

Take a look at a sample RuleMap. And let us know what you think. Contact us for pricing or a web demo.

 

 

July 12, 2007

JOBS: Business Rule Anaysts & BRE Developers/Architects

BizRules is looking for

  • Business Rule Analysts
  • Business Requirements Analysts
  • BRE/BRMS developers & architects fluent with rule engines, especially ILOG JRules, PegaRULES PRPC, Haley Rules, and Fair Isaac Blaze Advisor
  • IBM WAS WebSphere Application Server / J2EE architects

for permanent full-time and long-term contract opportunities nationwide. If you have experience as a rules analyst, developer, or architect and are looking for challenging projects with Fortune 500 clients, contact BIZRULES or send your resume to

JOBS [at] BIZRULES.COM

305.994.9510

(See http://bizrules.com/us/page/careers.htm for more detailed job descriptions)

Interview with Fair Isaac VP James Taylor on EDM and Smart (enough) Systems

Say hello to Enterprise Decision Management, or EDM for short. EDM is the new buzzword that business rules folks are buzzing about lately.

It sounds like it was dreamed up by marketers to put a new spin on something that great companies have been doing all along, albeit probably manually. In fact, it’s a great acronym invented by James Taylor, Vice President of Enterprise Decision Management at Fair Isaac, to describe what their customers were essentially doing with Fair Isaac’s Blaze Advisor rule engine: Building smart rule-based systems to manage and automate decisions.

It turns out that all sorts of companies are using business rule engines to build EDM applications. James just figured this out first and gave it a great name. By now many of the leading BRE vendors are probably updating their marketing materials with the EDM buzzword.

(shameless plug – I just added EDM to the BIZRULES website in the decisioning solutions page.)

James just published a new book, along with co-author Neil Raden, about EDM and their ideas for building smarter systems. I had an opportunity to chat with James recently and interview him about his new book called, appropriately enough, Smart (enough) Systems. (see http://www.smartenoughsystems.com/wp/main

BIZRULES: Tell us about your new book, Smart (enough) Systems 

Taylor: The book is being published by Prentice Hall Professional, and it describes how companies can use the computer-based systems they have in place rather than purchasing new ones to build smarter systems - and how these systems can help companies thrive through Enterprise Decision Management.  

Continue reading "Interview with Fair Isaac VP James Taylor on EDM and Smart (enough) Systems" »

April 05, 2007

Why business rules? Why not expert systems?

James Taylor over at Fair Isaac has a really good list of "Why business rules?" I agree with most of the points, except the stuff about expert systems.

Maybe the question should be "why not expert systems?"

The dirty little secret is that a lot of the rule engines out there were originally called "expert systems" or "inference engines", then they were called "business rule engines", and today they are known as "business rule management systems. (See the business rules hype cycle)

Of course, everything is better today. And faster. And connected. When expert systems first came out, the Web wasn't even born yet, and PCs were running at 10 mHz. 

The biggest problem we had at Mobil Oil between 1988-1994 when we were building the Global Expert System Strategy and Lube Knowledgebase Strategy was making and mailing floppy disks to all our affiliates.

I remember one day we were showing the customer (an executive in Mobil Marine division) a demo of the expert system, his comments were:

  1. This is like an intelligent checklist, it never asks un-needed or dumb questions!
  2. I like that I can click on an underlined word (a hyperlink) and popup a definition, photo, go to the next page, or whatever!
  3. This is not like our other DOS or mainframe apps. Our users will not like the fact that this works on a "one page at a time" metaphor,
  4. because we're forcing users to fill out information or answer questions on the page (screen), then they have to press enter to go to the next page (screen).

That one page at a time metaphor he described was basically how the World Wide Web works. We were doing this in a business rule engine (BRE), aka an expert system (ES) in 1988. Before WWW. Before Windows.

(Want proof, go here and click on the photo on the right. There's a picture from back then, in my younger days... the program on the PC behind me is 1DirPlus or something like that.... Definately B.W. Before Windows). And so back then we built expert systems that did reasoning, chaining, hypertext / linking, and of course inferencing. Basically they would fire rules exactly the same way a modern rule engine would today. And give the same answer the expert would give,

Even after the experts retired long ago!

We did that in AION. We could have used Neuron Data (which evolved into Fair Isaac Blaze Advisor), or we could have done it in ILOG. Or any number of other ES tools at the time. Some of them are still around today. (See BRE Family Tree)

Distribution of expert systems, and access, is one of the reasons they "never took off". People used to say expert systems were a solution looking for a problem. Deploying expert systems on the web solves those problems.

I think the Web is "the problem" that expert systems were looking for. The Semantic Web is reigniting a lot of the good stuff from the AI/ES days. Adding intelligence and reasoning to applications is what expert systems have been doing all along.

And by the way, not everyone agrees that expert systems never took off. I certainly don't.

As Richard Barfus, CEO of MindBox, (an ES/BRE/BRMS firm) likes to say, "Expert systems didn't really go away. They went undercover."

 

October 18, 2006

Press Release: Fair Isaac Recognized as Business Rules Management Systems Market Leader

October 02, 2006 09:21 AM Eastern Time

Industry Analyst Report Credits Fair Isaac’s Leadership to the Continued Success of its Award-Winning Blaze Advisor Business Rules Management System in the North American Market

MINNEAPOLIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Fair Isaac Corporation (NYSE:FIC), the leading provider of analytics and decision management technology, announced today that leading analyst firm IDC has recognized Fair Isaac as the worldwide revenue leader in the Business Rules Management Systems (BRMS) software market.

In the new IDC report titled “Worldwide Business Rules Management Systems Software 2006-2010 Forecast and 2005 Vendor Shares” (IDC #203627, September 2006), Fair Isaac leads the worldwide BRMS revenue category in 2005 with revenues of $45.1 million, growing a strong 28.6 percent compared to revenues of $35.1 million in 2004. Fair Isaac is ranked as the leader in BRMS market share with 23.9 percent worldwide and 33.4 percent in the key America market.

According to IDC, business rules management tools centralize the definition, discovery, storage, and submission of the vast quantity of rules used in business operations to provide organizations with greater automation, more responsiveness to change, and less expensive distribution and maintenance of their business activities. IDC anticipates that revenue for the worldwide BRMS market will continue to grow from its 2005 level of $188.5 million to $455.1 million in 2010, based on “the strong role that business rules management systems will have in building out the application infrastructure platforms.”

See the rest of the story...

February 10, 2006

Rules 1.0

Executives used to have secretaries. Now they have Word.

Companies used to have IT/Finance modelers to do "what if" analysis. Now they have Excel.

Newspapers used to have strippers (no not that kind!) that did page layout by hand. Now they have PageMaker.

In the early days of the Web, you needed a Webmaster to create your website. Now you have FrontPage.

What's missing today in the business rules market is a tool that lets business executives write their own rules. Without IT, without programming, and maybe even without automation. Just a tool like Word (for textual rules), Excel (for decision tables), or even Visio (for decision trees) that simply lets me document "logical business rules". And then press File, Save as... "billing rules model 1.0", or "audit rules 1.0", etc. That's what I want to be able to do.

Sure, I'd like to push a button and have that logical rule model artifact go into a business rules repository. Great. If I could push another button and have my logical rule model generate code for whatever Business Rule Engine I'd like to target, now we're talking business rules.

That is the promise of business rules. I want to create a logical rule model, select my technology (i.e. HaleyRules, ILOG, PegaRULES, Versata, Fair Isaac Blaze Advisor, CA AION, Corticon, OpenRules, etc.) and then press GO. I want the tool to transform my logical business rule model into a physical business rule model. Then I want to compile and run.

That sounds farfetched, but I think it's only a year or two away. By the way, this is the same thing that database people do for a living. ERWin anyone? Create a logical database model, select your target physical databse model technology (i.e. SQLServer, DB2, INGRES, etc.), then press GO. This approach works for databases. It is inevitable that this approach will one day soon work for rulebases.

Let's start by calling the BRMS (business rule management system) a RBMS (rulebase management system) instead. Then we should call the business rules repository the rulebase. Business people will find it much easier to understand rulebases if they can compare it to the familiar database analogy.

We'll still need industrial strength rulebases like the ones I mentioned above. But we'll also need a "lite" rulebase software tool for business executives. Think Word, Excel, Visio.... or Access instead of SQLServer...

What if, or when will Microsoft or some other BRE vendor releases Rules 1.0? How about Microsoft Rules 1.0.? Maybe part of Office? What if executives finally have a tool on their desktop to write the rules? A tool that understands IF and THEN and ELSE and MUST and ONLY IF and MUST NOT etc.

I think a lot of business people have been led to believe that that's what business rules will mean to them. And their expectations are that the rule tool will be as easy to use as Excel or Word. I've noticed more and more companies approving business rule projects where the business people have the expectation that the business rules tool is something they can fire up on their PC... as easily as they do Word or Excel.

Business Rule Engine software products are clearly awesome productivity tools for programmers. But only a few of them could be considered tools for executives. We need to think of the BRE as the tool for IT developers and for rule execution, and the logical rule modeling tool I described above as the rule documentation tool for business executives.

I hope there are some companies working on this idea of a logical rules modeling tool that generates code for my BRE tool of choice.

Stay tuned... What do you think? Does Microsoft Rule? Anyone else?

September 27, 2005

M&A: Fair Isaac acquires RulesPower

Sep. 27, 2005: The Business Rule Management industry shakeout continues.

Today Fair Isaac announced it has acquired RulesPower, development staff, rights to the RETE III algorithm, and other patent pending technology.

More details on strategy & direction to be announced later by FI. See www.fairisaac.com/rulespower for details.
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