Khanderao on Emerging And Integration Technologies

Thursday, October 18, 2007

BPM: Close loop integration between Modeling, Execution and Monitoring of Business Process

Life-cycle issues in BPM:
It is well understood that Business analysts need a business friendly tool to capture requirement, model a process and / document a process. Many modeling tools are already available and are key in any BPM strategy. The business analysts do not implement those processes. Especially it is true for "executable processes" like BPEL. IT developers or system integrators often take a business requirement and turn them into an executable business process. There is always a chance of a communication gap. Off course, a proper review would reduce chances of such reviews. However, if a business analyst needs to review BPEL process, he would neither be comfortable nor be capable of. In such scenario, it is definitely useful to have an automatic generation of BPEL process and many modeling tools generate BPEL processes.

However, the key of modeling is to be higher level and capture key business activities. A modeler can capture some key business activities, however, none of these would be or should be complete. Hence, IT developer / SI would need to add details or implement specific business as well as technical activities to make the process complete. They may add data transformations, validations, error handling, or implement specific handshaking required by internal/external partners. Some of these, details may need to surfaced to the model. Otherwise, over a period of time, the model start getting out of sync with the implemented process. Thus, round tripping is important.

While a process can be modified at the time of or after implementation by IT/SIs, the business analyst may also need to change the model to reflect a changing business need. Thus there would be changes in both the original model as well as the generated business process. This is a very valid case in a life cycle of a business process. So the key is to support merging the changes.

Oracle BPM:
In the month of September, Oracle announced a next updated version of its BPA (Business Process Analysis) Suite which supports closed loop integration between modeling and execution models. Oracle being a vendor providing a comprehensive solution in BPM-Integration space, has offered such tighter integration between various tools and by providing a standards based (BPMN) business friendly modeler, a standards(BPEL) based process designer, an execution runtime as well as monitoring environment (SOA Suite).

This new version supports thus provides "a closed-loop engineering and bi-directional sync'ing capabilities, enabling business analysts and developers to closely collaborate throughout the entire BPM life cycle using the best tools for their specific needs".

Using Oracle BPM Suite: Modeler and IT/SI experience
Using these products, a modeler can model a process, and then publish it. Using JDev based BPEL designer, an IT developer/SI can explore this published model and start with its "blue print" which is a common model between BPMN and BPEL. The BPEL process can further be refined with implementation details and would be published. If the modeler changes the process model and republishes it, the IT/SI developer would get a visual notification in his/her JDev. The developer can sync up the process, see the differences, merge the changes (comparing the new versus existing process) and implement the details for the newly added business activities related.

Seamless Integration with Monitoring:
Oracle's BPM suite also helps in monitoring. The modeler can specify (select) monitoring points, the generated BPEL would carry all the "sensor instrumentation" without a need to add them manually. These sensor data can be fed to Oracle's BAM (Business Activity Monitoring) module which can provide a real time dashboard.

The execution can potentially be analyzed and the analysis can be used in further refining the business process model, thus completing the circle of life cycle activities.

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