CapeClear and Workday

I saw the announcements yesterday that Workday had acquired CapeClear. This is an interesting acquisition. At first glance, I thought this was just normal evolution in the ERP space, except that Workday just happens to be a hosted solution. After all, Oracle and SAP both have integration products that enable integration with their backend applications, so why not Workday? The part of this that is a bit distressing, however, is that Workday is a new entrant into this space. A big reason that these integration products exist is because every application had its own proprietary integration approach. As the need to integrate became more and more important, the desire to standardize the integration approaches increased, and led to technologies like Web Services. Workday, as a relatively new player in the space, should have been able to go with standardized integration approaches from the start, significantly reducing the need for integration middleware. There will always be a need for something in the middle, but it should start to look more like network devices than complex middleware. If this theory is true, then why would Workday need to acquire an integration middleware company like CapeClear? Perhaps the only reasoning in this is that CapeClear had always tried to be more that just mediation fabric. After all, I had railed on CapeClear in the past when David Clarke said, “We consider ESB the principal container for business logic. This is the next generation application server.” It’s likely that Workday actually used them in this fashion, rather than as a lightweight mediation fabric that I prefer. If that’s the case, then it’s entirely possible that Workday was in a position where it would be too expensive to migrate to a traditional Java application server, and CapeClear was struggling being one of the few SOA startups left with rough economic times ahead. The best course for both parties, therefore, is the actions that have taken place. It will remain to be seen how well Workday can support the existing CapeClear customers who are using it as a mediation fabric, since their bread and butter is the ERP system, not middleware.

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