webMethods, Inc., a leading business integration and optimization software company, announced that it has acquired substantially all of the assets of Cerebra, Inc., a privately held leader in semantic metadata management technology.

Cerebra's technology will be embedded as a differentiating feature within future editions of webMethods' flagship product suite. webMethods Fabric brings together advanced business integration and business process management (BPM) technologies within a proven service-oriented architecture (SOA) infrastructure to help enterprises continually improve their most critical processes. Cerebra's technology will serve as webMethods' federated metadata repository. It will provide users with greater visibility and a richer understanding of available software assets and their associated metadata histories. Commonly defined as 'data about data', metadata is the descriptive information used to define IT assets, including Web services, documents, business processes, governance policies and user profiles.

What differentiates Cerebra's approach to metadata management is its use of semantic technology. Semantic information enriches the understanding of metadata by providing additional context to its meaning and usage. In complex and dynamic business processes, semantic information documents the interrelationships between assets. This provides users with a clear understanding of operational dependencies as well as the anticipated impact of proposed changes. Cerebra's technology automatically captures and defines these interrelationships and establishes rules to govern and categorize metadata. This minimizes the need for manual maintenance of metadata, which is a primary barrier to widespread adoption, by creating a 'self-populating' and 'self-maintaining' metadata repository.

According to a recent report from Gartner, Inc, [CIOs: Metadata Improves Four Critical IT Activities by Jess Thompson (May 26, 2006)], "As an organization embarks on initiatives such as service-oriented architecture (SOA), business process management and data integration, it accrues a complex system of interrelated assets. Effective ownership of these assets requires: Governance; Life Cycle Management; Operations Management; and Communication and Collaboration. Metadata is fundamental for accomplishing these activities."

Within webMethods Fabric, Cerebra's technology will automate the capture and maintenance of semantic metadata within a shared repository. This repository will extend asset reuse by allowing users to search for the most appropriate IT asset based on established run-time criteria. The documentation of these interrelationships also simplifies change management as downstream dependencies can be readily analyzed and understood at design-time.

"Despite the image typically presented by most modeling tools, business processes are both dynamic and transitory. With each component of the process possessing its own rules, parameters, and interrelationships, which frequently change based on a variety of circumstances, more complex processes simply breakdown due to the incompatibility of many of these interrelationships," said Marc Breissinger, CTO, webMethods, Inc. "When used to enrich a specific process, semantic metadata helps overcome inconsistencies by providing a higher level of agreement to meaning and intent. This allows for the richer orchestration of the transactions and interactions that fundamentally define the process. The end result is that semantic metadata enables higher levels of automation, more assured decision-making and greater efficiency throughout the process."

In addition to leveraging the technology within its own solutions, webMethods expects to pursue additional OEM opportunities. Specific applications for the technology include advanced information integration, product portfolio management and master data management, financial compliance and assurance, and decision-support scenarios.

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