Process Modeling:

Complexity is just a combination of simple things


Business Process Management (BPM):

How you manage complexity in a simple way

Archive for the ‘SOA’ Category

Savvion merges with Progress Software

More industry consolidation

In a previous post I wrote about IBM buying Lombardi, and noted that I expect to see more industry consolidation.  Well, we didn’t have to wait long to find out which merger is next.  They say things  occur in threes, so I wonder which BPM company is next….

The IBM acquisition of Lombardi was interesting because IBM needed to fill the department level workflow product need.  This is where Lombardi is being positioned, according to IBM.

Progress software’s move for Savvion was much more interesting because Progress did not have a BPM system, or history of workflow systems.  Instead, Progress has a wide range of SOA systems and tools, and a strong offering in the CEP (complex event processing) and BTA (business transaction assurance) space.   With these offerings, Progress would more likely be positioned to sell products and services to the IT architecture crowd more so than the business.  Now with a full  stack of BPM, CEP, transaction monitoring, ESB, and data services, Progress is very well positioned to be an aggressive competitor in the BPM market.

I’m very interested in this Progress and Savvion merger because it shows the BPM industry is evolving into more event oriented processes instead of people centric activity.   CEP (complex event processing) refers to the idea that things happen that are not necessarily all part of a process.  For example, I can correlate streaming data from traffic, weather, positions of my delivery vehicles (from GPS), and incoming orders from my order system.  In a BPM world these events would only come together when they are relevant to a given activity.  In an event driven world, these events could potentially affect each other at any time, regardless if there is an active process task or not.  Many of these might not even be part of the BPM system.  When the filtered events are correlated to something interesting, a process action can be signaled. Examples of process action include starting a new process for corrective action.  You could also interrupt, continue, or end a process that is in-flight.

The over-all strategy of CEP + BPM means that there is less integration time for systems. Instead of routing all event activity load through the BPM system, the CEP system handles complex correlations of events, and aggregates them down to things that a BPM system might be interested in.  Also, you can get a broader perspective of multiple process instances simultaneously, especially when activities are in-flight.  For example, a delivery truck is running late.  With BPM only, it’s likely that you would not know this fact until the truck is overdue.  With CEP, I can constantly monitor all trucks via their GPS signal, and report all positions to a dashboard. Furthermore, you can correlate to traffic data in-route, and determine exactly how late the truck will be.  This allows an organization to react to exceptional conditions in real-time.   Keeping in mind, most transport companies (and other industries) do this sort of monitoring anyway, but not automatically.  Without CEP + BPM capability, you would have to perform these correlations manually, which might require a huge workforce.  The key here is that the events are reported in real-time, and the event correlations are more accurate.

The next trend

In the IT world, trends come and go.  The next “must have” or “must do” today is a dust collector tomorrow.   Recently I had a conversation with a colleague about BPM, and whether or not it will continue to be a growing trend, or are its days numbered?   He said to me “are you still doing that process stuff?  BPM is old news.”  My reply to this was simple.  While trends of automating processes come and go, process management has been around since before the computer.  The computer enables people to be more efficient in many ways.  But the software you use today is constantly being replaced by latest, greatest trend.   BPM is not software.  It’s not something you buy.  It’s something you do. There are many systems on the market based on older technologies that make them go out of favor as new systems emerge.  But to say that BPM is ancient history would be like saying that business its self is ancient history as well.

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Most Common Questions on Implementing BPM + SOA

Recently I have been doing a series of presentations on SOA and BPM with a combined governance strategy and framework.  It seems that BPM and SOA are a hot topic these days, but there doesn’t seem to be much knowledge on how to effectively combine both practices into a unified effort where both IT and business collaborate towards the same goals.   This is the problem that BPM tried to solve back in 2002 but was not widely adopted because of the lack of IT backing of the tools.   Now that SOA is becoming common practice it’s time for a second look at what BPM can really do for an organization.

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SOA presentation at AJUG

Today (April 21st) I’m doing a presentation at AJUG (Atlanta Java Users Group).  The presentation will cover topics related to the relationship between SOA and BPM.   Any attendees are welcome to comment and post feedback on this event.

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Workflow Application? Or is it a process?

Often I hear from people that are looking to implement a new “workflow application” in their organization. This always gives me a reminder that we (the IT community) have not yet broken through that boundary yet to where everyone understands what is a process and what is an application. Read more »

What does SOA mean for the process modeling world?

SOA is an acronym for Service Oriented Architecture. SOA is an approach to building software in a way that allows components to be reused across a large organization. So what does this have to do with process modeling?  Process modeling involves analyzing all the various participants of a process such as people, systems, and other processes. Often a process modeler will overlook the fact that systems are involved in a process.

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