Earlier this week, we announced the formation of the Microsoft Business Process Alliance.  This effort includes expanding our relationships with several existing partners and the additions of many new ones.  The partners include AmberPoint, Ascentn, IDS Scheer, Fair Isaac, Global360, InRule, Metastorm, PNMsoft, RuleBurst and SourceCode Technology Holdings Inc..

These partners help address the three key areas of business process management:

·         Process Modeling and Analysis

·         Business Rules Management

·         Human centric Workflow

Today, Business Process Management is the domain of the upper-enterprise. The more than 6500 customers benefiting from BizTalk Server reflect this trend as most are very large enterprises.  While there are certainly exceptions to the rule, generally speaking extensive rollouts of BPM have been limited to the Fortune 500.

For BPM to go mainstream, there are three things that need to be addressed: cost, complexity, connectivity. The cost of the technology is part of it, but it is the resources that the technology consumes in deployment and use that is really staggering for most organizations.  Complexity is also a major issue in that the tools themselves can be hard to use and many customers find that they spend significant time making the tools work with each other. Connectivity remains a barrier for most organizations as BPM technologies aren’t particularly valuable unless the can be easily integrated with the applications that drive the organization.

We created the Business Process Alliance seeks to address all three of these issues:

·         Cost – ensuring that the offerings are very, very competitively priced

·         Complexity – ensuring that the technologies are well integrated so organizations aren’t burdened with making the tools work together as a precursor to getting work done

·         Connectivity – building an ecosystem around our premium integration / process management product – BizTalk Server – which provides a wide range of connectivity options

Some may ask why Microsoft doesn’t solve the problem all together by continuing to build on SharePoint and BizTalk to offer all of the pieces directly.  The analogy that is frequently offered is that partnering on BPM is like trying to buy a truck and an engine from different companies and integrating it on your own. A better analogy would be buying a house with all the appliances, fixtures, etc. from a single company who built everything themselves.  It’s hard to imagine that a single vendor could address the depth of options or even the individual tastes on something so broad. After spending years watching and learning from the customers that successfully deployed the technology, one thing is clear – there are exactly zero customers exactly alike.   We think customers should be very suspicious of any organization that says that they can do it all.  Partnering with best-of-breed vendors gives customers more choices and much greater technological depth.

The vendors with whom we are partnering for this effort have at least two things in common.  First, these are all vendors with whom we have collaborated on previous customer engagements.  Second, all made a strategic decision to support Windows Workflow Foundation and BizTalk Server.  The commitment they have made reflects the market demand for well integrated technologies based on the .NET framework.   When customers work with Microsoft and members of the Alliance, they’ll know they are getting technology that is proven and well integrated.  Stay tuned, this is just the beginning!