News from IBM: they are set to acquire ILOG. Among other things, ILOG makes CPLEX, one of the best linear and integer programming codes out there. Together with the previous purchase of Dash by Fair-Isaac, this means much of the operations research software world has changed hands in the last few months. It is interesting that most of the announcement is about rules, not optimization:
When completed, the acquisition of ILOG will strengthen IBM’s BPM and SOA position by providing customers a full set of rule management tools for complete information and application lifecycle management across a comprehensive platform including IBM’s leading WebSphere application development and management platform.
BPM allows companies to model, automate, monitor, and redesign business processes, such as opening a bank account, documenting a medical record, or customizing an insurance policy. It enables companies to improve customers’ service and increase efficiency, automation and accuracy. Using BPM, companies can examine tasks within an organization – particularly those done manually or involving significant document processing – and apply BPM to automate or streamline them. Such processes are becoming increasingly critical as business operations become more complex and information volumes grow at phenomenal rates. Building on IBM’s existing capabilities, ILOG will help customers manage change and complexity in their business processes by providing powerful, yet easy-to-use business tools.
For example, a business rule might be applied to elevate a premier customer to the front of a phone queue as part of a customer service process. ILOG’s Business Rule Management System provides users with tools that allow greater control over the criteria that determine how and when to route those premier customers. As such, businesses can accelerate the process of initiating policy changes that may be driven by market trends or competitive activity to ensure customer satisfaction is maintained.
ILOG technology has the potential to add significant capability across IBM’s entire software platform and bolster its existing rules management offerings. This includes improved rules and business optimization capabilities for Information Management offerings, better visualization for Lotus products, enhanced optimization within Tivoli solutions, and efficient supply chain management assets for planning and scheduling.
Stay tuned for the effect this has on CPLEX and the optimization world. Note that this combination has to step through some regulatory hurdles, so it will be a few months (end of the year?) before ILOG people become IBMers.