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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:

 

 

May 22, 2008

2008 October Rules Fest in Dallas, TX

October Rules Fest, the conference on rulebased and and knowledgebased systems, will be held in Dallas, TX on October 22-24, 2008. ORF is bringing together for the first time in one place the inventors and originators of key rules technologies and methodologies such as:

  • Dr. Charles Forgy, inventor of the Rete algorithm that drives many of today's leading Business Rule Engines such as ILOG, Fair Isaac, and Haley
  • Dr. Dan Levine, noted AI/Neural Net scientist
  • Daniel Selman, software architect and ILOG JRules Rule Studio team lead
  • Edson Tirelli, Drools/Red Hat
  • Gary Riley, co-author of CLIPS (where Inference/MindBox and Haley Rules originated)
  • Greg Barton, Infinimeme
  • James Owen, KBSC, rules consultant, noted author, and visionary
  • Larry Terrill, EBDX.com
  • Mark Proctor, co-author of Drools
  • Michael Neale, Drools/Red Hat
  • Dr. Richard Hicks, noted Validaton and Verification sicentist, creator of EZ Xpert, Texas A&M Univesity
  • Rolando Hernandez, Chief Rules Architect, BIZRULES and creator of the VISION business rules methodology 

The seminars and presentations will be ideal for both CTOs, technical architects with rules experience, and developers new to business rules development. There will also be tutorials and introductions to business rules architecture, technologies, and methodologies for CIOs, managers, and analysts who want to learn why knowledge and rules matter.

Dallas Rules Group is a new business rules user group formed in January 2008 by folks interested in business rules architecture and development, knowledge acquisition, knowledge representation, knowledge engineering, AI (artifiical intelligence), expert systems, and enterprise rules integration.

This will be a technical seminar for technical people.  For those interested in the business side of rules, join some of our distinguished speakers the following week in Orlando, FL at the 11th International Business Rules Forum.

 

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)

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 26, 2006

Press Release: ILOG Announces 2007 First Quarter Results

ILOG S.A. (ADR)(ILOG) PARIS and MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Oct. 26

ILOG(R) today announced results for the first quarter of fiscal 2007, ended September 30, 2006. Revenues for the quarter amounted to $35.8 million and diluted earnings per share were $0.07. This compared with revenues of $30.7 million and diluted earnings per share of $0.11 for the prior year's first quarter.

"This quarter we returned to double-digit growth, with revenues up 16%, and we achieved solid growth in combined license and maintenance revenues for our business rule management system (BRMS) products at 20%. We also had higher revenues in each of our geographies -- including strong 22% growth in Europe," said ILOG Chairman and CEO, Pierre Haren. "Our profitability has been temporarily impacted by the timing of our research tax credit and higher taxes than last year. At $69 million, our cash position remains strong, and has allowed us recently to make two investments that will help us build for the future."

License revenue growth was led by BRMS, as the adoption of this technology into the IT mainstream continues. The mainstream appeal of BRMS is underscored by the growing diversity of markets in which these solutions are being deployed, which is reflected in ILOG's first quarter deal activity. While financial services and insurance companies continue to dominate BRMS purchases, the Company signed several sizeable deals in other market segments, including a major UK publisher of phone directories, a leading U.S. logistics and transportation company, and a large U.S. healthcare provider network...

See the press release.

October 11, 2006

Press Release: ILOG Reveals Its Acceptance Into IBM SOA Specialty Program - Quick Facts

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – October 11, 2006 – ILOG, a leading Business Rule Management System (BRMS) vendor, today announced its acceptance into the IBM SOA Specialty Program after successfully completing IBM’s extensive service-oriented architecture (SOA) technical and business requirements.

With this achievement, ILOG has integrated its JRules™ BRMS seamlessly with the IBM SOA Foundation, a single, integrated platform that combines application server and integration capabilities.

According to ILOG, ILOG JRules is the first Business Rule Management System to be integrated with the IBM WebSphere Process Server, a key element of IBM's SOA offering.

Source: http://www.tradingmarkets.com/.site/news/BREAKING%20NEWS/451679/

September 26, 2006

Press Release: ILOG Opens Subsidiary in China

New Shanghai Location to Manage Expanding Business Operations

ILOG has established a subsidiary in China to support its expanding business operations in China, recruit and manage its partnerships there and create an increased demand for ILOG's products in the country. Based in Shanghai, ILOG Software Technology (Shanghai) Co. Ltd. is a Wholly-Owned Foreign Enterprise, which will be led by Bounthara Ing, ILOG's Deputy CEO and executive vice president in charge of Asia Pacific operations. The company previously had a Beijing representative office in China.

Read more.

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?
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