TIBCO is offering an updated version of its Business Studio process modelling tool for free as it releases its latest product suite version.

Released at the same time as TIBCO iProcess Suite, version 10.5, Business Studio version 1.1 is designed to be an entry level business process design and simulation tool for non-technical users based on the open source integrated development platform, Eclipse.

The business process management (BPM) vendor said that to date, commercially available process modelling environments have been too cost-prohibitive for most companies to invest in for non-technical users. And the few made available for free are generally not standards compliant, have limited functionality, or do not fit into the current IT infrastructure.

Industry watchers welcomed the move, but said that while the free nature of the product may help build a BPM business case, its usability for non-technical users should not be overestimated or seen as quick way of scoping or building a BPM project.

Allan Cook, director of BPM consultancy Akubra told Techworld.com: “Cost-justifying the purchase of a BPM tool is typically based around the notional 15% process efficiency improvements that many of the market research companies quote. However, the entry prices of the majority of the BPM players in the market make it a significant purchase.

“I would expect these tools to be very helpful in allowing users and analysts to collaborate in defining processes, particularly in the process re-design stage prior to the purchase of a BPM product. But I think organisations should adopt them cognisant of where and how they can be best deployed.”

Jim Sinur, Gartner vice president and distinguished BPM analyst hadn’t seen the tool, but said: “I would say that a free modeller is not a new idea as Savvion, Ultimus and Handysoft have done this in the past.” He also called into question such tools' suitability for business-level users. “The stronger modelling tools should have no fear so far,” he said.

Neil Ward-Dutton of specialist IT advisory firm, Macheiter Ward Dutton said: “My take on this is that it’s a nice move from TIBCO, as it gives them a chance to build a broad community with some TIBCO skills and familiarity - and therefore a new market.” He said it was TIBCO’s strategy to move all its tools into the Business Studio framework over time, providing the perfect potential to convert free users into new customers.

Catherine Lynch, TIBCO senior product marketing manager said the vendor hoped the free release of version 1.1 would help establish a user community around it. “We have an aggressive roadmap for this tool and will release another new version, Business Studio 2.0, in the first half of next year,” she said.

TIBCO’s latest business process management (BPM) platform boasts improvements in performance and scalability in addition to iProcess Suite, which introduces real-time Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) capabilities, as well as real-time dashboard functionality for proactive decision making.