One of the unfortunate truths about software is that there is no such thing as an overnight revolution. Each advance in software is painstakingly built on top of previous advances that create an industry where every company that is hot today merely stands on the shoulders of the giants that have gone before them.
One of the slowest but most important advancements in the last several years has been all the work done around XML, which provided the industry with a self-describing, data-neutral file format. From that came the rise of Web services, which gave the industry a set of industry-standard protocols for middleware. That, in turn, reinvigorated the concept of service-oriented architectures, which today is considered the single best way to build applications for the Web.
Each of these advances is a downstream ripple effect of what went before. But it doesn't end there. The next major ripple is that software development may very well be derived from work being led by Roger Sippl, the founder of companies such as Informix, Vantive and Visigenic. Today, Sippl is the founder and CEO of Above All Software. And what makes that company interesting is the fact that it has come up with a set of business-process modeling tools that take advantage of the all the work done in the Web services space.
Business-process modeling tools that the average business system analyst can use have been the missing link on the great software evolution that has been taking place since the late 1990s. While it was a tremendous achievement to create architectures that had standard interfaces for accessing data, the tools to allow users to easily recombine data to easily create composite applications that spanned multiple applications were woefully missing.
In 2002, Sippl set about developing those types of tools and today leads a company that has created one of the few application integration tools that actually lets average people link multiple business processes together using graphical representations of those business processes. The logic associated with those business processes is kept in a repository managed by Above All Software. So when two or more business processes are linked, the repository links the metadata it has on each of those processes to create a new composite application.
The end result is that Above All Software can do today what companies like IBM, Oracle and Microsoft describe as some far-off, distant software nirvana that they hope to get to by the end of the decade. In the meantime, channel partners of Above All Software--such as ClientSoft, GrowthCircle, ProBizMix, SalesAware, BenNevis and E2I Technologies--are already out making money delivering next-generation composite applications to their clients today.
A comparatively modest fellow by any measure applied to software executives, Sippl is breath of fresh air because he represents the return of the true innovator to the industry. And when you think about what makes this industry great, it's not all the marketing buzzwords wrapped up in techno, utility computing babble. It's the willingness of people like Sippl to push the envelope through innovation that truly advances the industry in a way that adds value to customers.
With any luck, the ripple of effect of a few more Sippl-type entrepreneurs will finally expose the massive amount of software innovation that has been going on for the past several years to customers everywhere.