4 Pillars of BPM 7.5 Part 3: Power
Krista Summitt 270003YAW6 firstname.lastname@example.org | | Tags:  bpm7.5 power agility 4pillars management process ibmbpm software governance simplicity bpm
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Part 3 of our 4 Pillars of BPM 7.5 Series is on Power was written by Eric Herness, BPM Chief Architect, IBM Software Group.
The power element of the IBM BPM 7.5 platform nicely complements simplicity, governance and visibility. Power might be the element that appears to be the most distant from the business users and business leaders engaged in BPM, but in the end power might be the best friend of the business.
The power aspect of the IBM BPM 7.5 portfolio certainly pervades the portfolio and in many ways represents aspects of the platform that can be leaned on and leveraged by all process applications. There are also certain technical features and capabilities that inherently enable the power capabilities. The process evolution and improvement enabled by the other elements of the platform (simplicity, visibility and governance) will in fact drive demands on the platform for power. Let’s explore some of the power elements through this perspective.
Initial process implementations often have a significant human element in them. This first stop for a process in a process evolution already requires significant capabilities in the underlying platform. Specifically flexibility and scaling with respect to managing human interactions is required. IBM 7.5 is built on WebSphere Application Server. As initial business process usage grows, the underlying workload manager capabilities in the WebSphere Application Server helps to manage this growing workload. The underlying administration and configuration elements of IBM BPM 7.5 allow for easily adding additional incremental capacity to keep up with growing workload demands.
Business initiated improvements
Beyond that initial process implementation, business initiated improvements will begin to appear in subsequent versions of the process. Human steps in processes will be still be prevalent, but additional automated tasks will begin to appear, either as conditional alternatives to human steps or as steps that precede the human activity so as to provide additional data from which the human can perform their assigned task. In IBM BPM 7.5, this means creating integration and advanced integration services. Advanced integration services are constructed using IBM Integration Designer. This Eclipse-based authoring tool provides visual editors and built in test support for constructing services. SOA Services are easily constructed, without java coding, to access and interact with those existing systems that can provide information that will make the business process more efficient. IBM Integration Designer provides SOA access to WebSphere Adapters as well as the ability to build any mediation necessary to proper bridge the needs of the business process and the data and operations available from the back-end systems. What this all means from a business perspective is that the process can be improved quickly and seamlessly and begin to leverage more and more information available from the existing IT infrastructure.
Leveraging additional power capabilities
As processes continue to be scrutinized and reviewed for further improvements, additional power capabilities of the IBM BPM 7.5 platform are leveraged. For example, beyond just accessing information from existing systems, the need to automatically drive updates to existing systems will often occur as processes are improved. While advanced integration services that drive updates seem simple enough, the power begins to show through when those updates actually become more involved. Perhaps both a DB2 and a CICS system need to be updated as the result a decision made by a human in a process. Advanced integration services, as described before, can be constructed using IBM Integration Designer. Now what we need is a way to orchestrate a set of back-end interactions. A BPEL process as a choice for an advanced integration service might be just what is needed. A BPEL process can be configured to run in a transactional unit of work. This will allow the process to drive both back-end updates and related read operations as a single unit of work. Why is this powerful? This is powerful because the high level business process can essentially assume that if the step in the process is invoked, then it will either complete entirely or be rolled back and require error processing. Nothing will ever be half-baked here. This is what transactional and process integrity are all about. The system and your business process instances are always at a known and consistent state.
These advanced integration services sometimes become even more involved, in that they might need to deal with non-transactional resources and asynchronous activities. In this case, we can continue to rely on the BPEL capabilities in IBM BPM 7.5 to provide integrity. Through advanced features such as compensation, including microflow compensation, IBM BPM 7.5 can ensure the most intricate and complex interactions with existing systems will be managed with process integrity. When asynchronous systems are being dealt with, additional advanced features in IBM BPM 7.5, such as Event Sequencing, Store and Forward and Failed Events Management, can further assist in maintaining consistency throughout the lifetime of a process and dealing with a variety of conditions that may occur in the environment in which your process is running. From the business perspective, this matters a lot. Business process owners and business process participants will be able to spend more time on business process improvement, allowing the system to handle a variety of conditions that can occur throughout the lifetime of a business process. Without these features, it is likely that there would be more errors requiring human attention and thus a process that is less efficient. Leverage the power and make your processes more efficient.
This is a quick review of some of the power aspects of the IBM BPM 7.5 platform. While many of these capabilities are technical in nature, the results delivered with processes built for power can be easily seen via the returns evidenced by the business stakeholders.