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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:

 

 

January 08, 2007

Ruling the Corporation - THE STATE OF THE BUSINESS RULES MARKET 2007

THE STATE OF THE BUSINESS RULES MARKET 2007
By Rolando Hernandez, CEO, BIZRULES. January 8, 2007

I've been thinking about what's ahead for the BR market in 2007. Here are some thoughts:
  1. More M&A consolidation in the business rule engine (BRE) market is coming. There are a few small vendors (new and existing) with unique and technology that could be very interesting to the larger players. 2006 saw Mindbox and Versata get acquired. Insession Technologies spun off Resolution EBS. See the 2007 BRE Family Tree for who the leading vendors are today and how they got there.
  2. Look for Microsoft to play a larger role in the BR market, one that helps legitimize the space for those that still don't get BR. Microsoft already has 2 BRE technologies embedded in larger offerings. Yet because it doesn't market these rule engines as separate products yet, they are still pretty much under the radar. One of their BREs is embedded in Vista, so by the end of 2007 thousands maybe millions of client desktops will have a BRE rule execution engine ready to fire rules.
  3. More small BRE vendors will partner with Microsoft and position their BRE engines as a powerful rule authoring tool, integrate their product with Microsoft BRE, and position MSFT BRE as the runtime rule engine. A couple of BRE vendors are already doing this. An interesting possibility.
  4. Look out for alliances between between enterprise architecture (EA) modeling tools and business rule management systems (BRMS) as customers demand more integration with modeling tools and BR tools. As the BR approach gets blessed and accepted by more and more IT shops, BR modeling with play a larger role.
  5. Customers moving to this new BR approach and technology will continue to create business rules center of excellence, as I predicted last year.
  6. Business Rule Engine (BRE) products will become more and more similar. Selecting the right engine will get harder and become more important as the products get more powerful.
  7. BRE sales people are still spending a lot time selling the idea and concept of BR, and wasting too much time looking for the business case to make the sale. Smart customers are already sold on the BR idea. They're not even wasting time putting together the "business case" for using a BRE. They realize they need a BRE and they need it now. A rulebase (rule engine), IT and the Business is quickly discovering, is now just as necessary as a database. So forget the business case for "why the customer needs a BRE". Let's talk instead about "why the customer should buy your BRE".
  8. Renewed focus on rule harvesting and rule development methodologies. At the end of the day if you don't know what your business rules are, or if you don't modernize your rules before storing them in a BRE, it won't matter what BRE you select.
  9. Some companies don't want to bother buying an (BRE) engine. They want to buy the whole car. Look for rule-based packages that OEM a BRE for specific decisioning and advising solutions to become available.
  10. Finally, what I think is the most powerful business rules trend of all: Question Answering. According to Matthew Glotzbach, head of products for Google Enterprise, "Question answering is the future of search". This "new" technology is really a nod back to the classic interactive question answering expert system. You've probably run a Microsoft Wizard to troubleshoot a hardware problem. With a BRE under the hood, and a new marketing label: Expert system, Wizard, whatever, you shall now be called question answering... The marketing gods make it so... well now it looks like the next generation of search will leverage the power of the underappreciated and misunderstood expert system. Fair Isaac came out with SmartForms last year - basically they added in the feature they took out when they went from expert system to business rule engine: the smart interactive question answer front end. Haley is doing the same thing. I'm beginning to realize that when these expert system vendors renamed themselves as business rule engine vendors, what they really did was take out the smart interactive question answer interface. You know, the one where depending on the user's answer, the rules determine the next question to ask the user. Microsoft is beta-testing Microsoft Live QnA. Google is working on QnA as well. BIZRULES is working on the Question Answering Smart Banner Ad. Expert systems are back! Vendors are going to jump on the bandwagon and call their FAQ products question answering solutions. The real QA software will have at least two attributes: interactive and intelligent. Don't be fooled: a static FAQ page is not a Question Answering solution.

James Taylor and friends at Fair Isaac have put together a great list of predictions for the business rules market for 2007 over here and here. I agree and like a lot of these predictions. The more predictions the better. Let's keep it moving, and have fun ruling your business in 2007!

October 19, 2006

Microsoft Rules 1.0 for MS Office

I discovered David Strommer's blog about .Net and Enterprise Architecture recently.

One post caught my eye, Microsoft Rules 1.0 for MS Office, which is about a story called Rules 1.0 that I wrote about Rulebase Management Systems. David's quote is spot on:
"One of the most difficult challenges of any application development effort is accurately capturing the business processes and rules." - - David Strommer

Well said. Thanks David.

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?

December 30, 2005

The Rules of Business Just Changed. Again. How Fast Can You Change? THE STATE OF THE BUSINESS RULES MARKET 2006

By Rolando Hernandez, CEO, BIZRULES. 12/30/2005

SHORT TERM OUTLOOK

Business rules automation is starting to revolutionize business.

In the next year or two, business rules automation is going to, pardon the pun, change the rules of the game. It is going to literally and figuratively rewrite the rules of business.

If your competitor uses rule engines, that means they can change their business rules on-the-fly without having to recode and recompile. They can change their rules instantly, you know with zero time-to-market, as the business changes, as the world changes, as customers change, as regulations change... If they can keep up with change, they can stay in the game.

If your company doesn't use rule engines, that means you have to go through IT to change your business rules. You have to get a programmer to change the code, test it, debug it, recompile it, test it, debug it, recompile it, etc. It's going to take you a while to change the rules. It might take a few weeks or more likely a few months to change the business rules in the systems, as the business changes, as the market changes, as customers change, as regulations change... If you can't keep up with change, you're out of the game. You lose.

They win.

LONG TERM OUTLOOK In the long run (2006-2010), Business Rules Management will prove to be just as valuable to the enterprise as Business Rules Automation.

Knowledge Management (knowledge acquisition, knowledge retention, knowledge engineering) and Knowledge Automation will also prove to be just as valuable to the enterprise as Business Rules Management and Business Rules Automation.

THE STATE OF THE BR MARKET IS THE EMERGENCE OF THE BUSINESS RULES CENTER OR EXCELLENCE (BR COE)

Once awareness of the value of business rules management and the ROI of business rules automation reaches the board room, the enterprise will reach the stage where they are ready to establish the Business Rules Center of Excellence.

As enterprises start to realize significant ROI with individual (departmental)business rules automation applications, they will want to build & deploy more applications in other business areas and business functions.

Then they will begin to look for enterprise-wide opportunities to leverage rule engines. As the number of rule-based applications expands across the enterprise, they will focus more and more on standards, best pratices, and formal proven methodologies for building declarative rule-based applications.

ENTERPRISES WILL TREAT BUSINESS RULES AS AN INITIATIVE, LIKE SIX SIGMA AND DIGITIZATION

Just like enterprises latched on to Six Sigma as the approach or solution to quality, smart enterprises will treat business rules as the approach or solution for time to market, downsizing, compliance, and offshoring.

  • Time to market (rules enable faster business change)
  • Downsizing (rules harvesting and knowledge acquisition captures and retains knowledge before it is lost)
  • Compliance (rules automation automates controls that prevent and detect risks)
  • Offshore systems development costs will be reduced and minimized by enabling business users to write and change their own business rules instead of a programmer

ENTERPRISES WILL DEPLOY BUSINESS RULES TECHNOLOGY TO REDUCE RISING OFFSHORE SYSTEMS DEVELOPMENT COSTS AND ENABLE FASTER CHANGE

Yes, you read that correctly. Just as the enterprise looked to offshoring as the solution for rising systems development costs, the enterprise will look to business rules automation and business rules management as the solution to rising offshore development costs and time.

By enabling business executives to manage and change the business rules in the applications, they eliminate the code/test/debug/recode cycle. They don't have to go to IT (onshore or offshore) for change - they can change the rules themselves.

So the need for programmers, both onshore and offshore, will be reduced as the enterprise deploys business rule applications.

ENTERPRISES WILL DEPLOY RULES-BASED AND KNOWLEDGE-BASED TECHNOLOGY TO REDUCE OFFSHORE CALL CENTER COSTS AND IMPROVE CUSTOMER SERVICE

Yes, you read that correctly. Just as the enterprise looked to offshoring call centers as the solution to rising customer service costs, the enterprise will look to business rules automation and knowledge automation (expert systems) as the solution to rising offshore development costs and improving customer service delivery.

The great thing about democracy and commerce and competition is the relentless drive to improve productivity, reduce costs, and improve service delivery.

Thus, just as many programmers overseas and here will be replaced by business rule engines, many call center operators here and overseas will be replaced by Artificial Intelligence rule engines and knowledge-based expert systems that will give the right answer every time, 24/7.

AI-based self-service customer support websites will emerge, and people will love them. They will get the right answer every time. No more different answers depending on what agent you talked to. No more waiting on hold forever. Expert answers. Instant gratification.

(c) copyright Rolando Hernandez 2005

July 02, 2005

Famous Quotes (about resistence to change and predicting the future)

I am reminded of these quotes every time I talk to someone who believes that rulebases, knowledgebases, and expert systems are a fad...

"The telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication.”
Western Union internal memo, 1876

"The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys."
Sir William Preece, chief engineer of the British Post Office, 1876 *

"Drill for Oil? You mean drill in the ground to try and find oil? You're crazy."
Response reported by Edwin Drake as he tried to hire workmen who knew oil just bubbled out of the ground, 1895 *

"Everything that can be invented has been invented.”
Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899

"It must be accepted as a principle that the rifle, effective as it is, cannot replace the effect produced by the speed of the horse, the magnetism of the charge and the terror of cold steel."
British Cavalry Training Manual, 1907 *

"Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value."
Marshal Ferdinand Foch (who become the supreme allied commander in World War I), 1911 *

"The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?"
David Sarnoff's associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s.

“Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?"
H.M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers."
Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1949 *

“Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons.”
Popular Mechanics, 1949

"I have travelled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won't last out the year."
Editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957 *

"We don't like their sound and guitar music is on the way out."
Decca records rejects the Beatles, 1962 *

"There is no reason in the world anyone would want a computer in their home. No reason.”
Ken Olsen, Chairman, DEC, 1977

"I believe OS/2 is destined to be the most important operating system, and possibly program, of all time.”
Bill Gates 11/87

"640K of RAM ought to be enough for anybody.”
Bill Gates, 1981

"The best way to predict the future is to invent it”
Alan Kay

* Thanks to Jocelyn Paine for these quotes:
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