Business Process Integration – What, where and how

If we talk about business process integration, we would probably have a different vision and other expectations depending on our role.

For example: if we talk to the manager about business process integration, this could mean automate existing manual processes. If we talk to the sales-departement they would expect to have more insight into trends, benchmarks and action-triggered marketing campaigns.

Another example: If you talk to analysts they would think about business process modelling and defining the landscape of existing processes to be able have a clear understanding of the company’s process lifecycle and how processes, data and tasks are managed. If we talk to architects we would start discussing the usage of UML Sequence Diagrams, Class Diagrams, Canonical Data Models, …

In other words the expectations differ depending the context you would be interested in the integration aspect.

The steps that can be equal across the different stakeholders:

  1. Analyse existing business processes, data, services, organisational aspect, …
  2. Define workflow aspects such as the difference between automatic and manual steps
  3. Automate business processes
  4. Integrate business processes

The products that can be used to tackle these aspects, as well on business side as IT side, and offered within the Fusion Middleware 11g stack are: BPA Suite, BPM Suite and SOA Suite.

BPA Suite, Business Process Analysis Suite, can offer you an environment to analyse needed data, services, organisational aspects and business processes (using different types of diagrams). Besides architecting these artifacts you can also simulate the processes to be able to have a clear view on the throughput and process lifecycle without needing to automate the processes you’ve put in place in for example a non-automatic manner. Afterwards you’re able to discuss the business processes with your IT department and start implementing/automating these processes using Business Process Modeling Notation and Business Process Execution Language (BPMN and BPEL). BPMN 2.0 is now supported in 11g.

BPM Suite can then offer a unified view to as well analyst as stakeholders as developers using the same environment, the same processes and analysis. By introducing one single environment for these different stakeholders, communication and collaboration will be augmented without frustration of difference in object definitions or concepts.

After the analysis, simulation and automation has been put in place, using SOA Suite (e.g. Bpel process Manager) you can start integrating these processes within existing environments. Call out to these new processes (a deployed BPEL Process is a web service) from the Back-End. Publish these services to your existing partners and new partners, …

ADF Taskflows & BPM & UML

You’ve read about the ADF Methodology Group that was founded for the masses and the group is still growing and the topics are evolving.

More information regarding the ADF Methodology can be found on the Oracle wiki page.

Today I’ve added some content regarding a definition on ADF Taskflows, BPM, UML, BPEL, etc. and especially for which purpose these technologies can be used.

On the wiki-page you will find more information regarding when and why I would use these kinds of methodologies and the benefits or drawbacks I find when using them.

Feel free to add comment, add suggestions, add your own approach, etc. Looking forward for new ideas!

That said aside, our Google group is also worth reading in the meantime, you can check it out here.

Aqualogic vs. Oracle Shoot-out (Oracle Mix Winning Session)

I went to the presentation of Lonneke and Ronald regarding AquaLogic vs. Oracle, which was a really great presentation with a good overview and an objective comparison of both environments.

This mix session was 1 of the winning sessions for Oracle Open World and it’s a hot topic nowadays of course.

What were the tools that were compared:

  • Oracle BPA/Oracle BPEL PM vs. BEA ALBPM
  • Oracle ESB vs. BEA ALSB

One of the first tips Lonneke has discussed was how to govern such a SOA Project using waterfall approach or not. She mentioned that bottom-up and top-down should be combined instead of sticking with one of both methodologies because when choosing one you would either have a load of services that weren’t used, or a combined service with not enough granularity.

You need to think about an Enterprise Model, once you’ve defined that model, the high level architecture, you can start going into the business processes itself and the description of all the artefacts.

Trying to rush your business process analysis without a firm understanding of the enterprise model will spare you a lot of rework and of course a firm approach for as well the business as it department.

The comparison which was made by them, is put in their presentation slides, which will be made available by Oracle.

The main points I’ve written down (which maybe aren’t all documented in the presentation).

Enterprise Architecture:

  • Strength of Oracle BPA Suite: A Complete Architecture Tool for as well design as simulation as monitoring as execution (but for monitoring you need to use BAM (real-time monitoring on in-flight processes) and for execution you need BPEL (round tripping is supported)
  • Weaknesses of Oracle BPA Suite: Representation of process in BPA and BPEL is different, you have a logical model of your process in BPMN and an execution model in BPEL, these don’t match 1-on-1 (one could argue if this is really what you want because you’re talking about 2 separate standards, one for modelling purposes and one for execution purposes)
  • Strength of AL BPM: 1 representation of business process and execution is support by the runtime engine which trully gives you 1 view.
  • Weaknesses of AL BPM: BPMN Spec isn’t fully supported, AL uses proprietary coding and uses some sort of templating to put another flavor on your process model (uml view, bpmn view, …) + no abstraction available between system centric and human centric activities (kpi’s) + no optimization of your business process possible because you don’t have a context within your business process

Composite Services:

  • Strengths of Oracle ESB (rebranded to Oracle Service Bus = OSB): Usage of JCA + adapters being provided (no ability for enrichment in a declarative way)
  • Weaknesses of OSB: No native support for resource management (e.g. centralized XSD)
  • Strengths of ALSB: Use a logical name for an XSD and not a physical location (let’s you use a central repository for all your definitions) + ability to define generic transformations which can be used within different composite services
  • Weaknesses of ALSB: only runs on Weblogic + adapters are technology driven and JCA isn’t provided

I would really like to thank Ronald and Lonneke for the great presentation and the different demo’s they provided during the session. I’m sure this session was of great value for many customers struggling with the very hot topic right now: what to choose ;o)

Oracle BPA Suite – Tips & Tricks regarding usability

This week I attended the SOA Forum in Lisbon for which Oracle had organized 2 days regarding overall presentations and case studies and then 2 days of expert camps.
These expert camps where divided in Advanced SOA and Oracle BPA Suite.

I suscribed for the BPA-one because I’m interested in the full development life cycle that is offered now, starting from analysis until development.

The Bpel Blueprint that got my attention, especially the ability to forward-engineer changes from BPA into your BPEL and vice versa.

The BPA-workshop started from scratch and gave us, the attendees, the possibility to get in toch with the different features within BPA as well for analysts as for developers through the usage of BPEL Blueprints.

The tips & tricks that can be of use for anyone interested in getting started with BPA, are the most important part to remember. The rest is basic workshop/tutorial stuff top get acquanted with the tool/environment.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Installation-possibilities: When you want to install BPA you have different options depending on your requirements. If you just want to get acquanted with the tool and don’t want to start using the tool for production purposes you can use the following set-up: Architect + local repository (Oracle Lite or Oracle DB). If you want to get acquanted and use the tool for real implementations, use the following set-up: Architect + Repository Server. If you want to use your existing installation of Oracle XE or Oracle DB you can install Architect with a local repository pointing to XE or your DB => make sure you’re using the UTF8-character set, otherwise you will need to install a separate database instance
  • You can run BPA as a Java Application or an Applet
  • You need to use the same version for your bpa suite and your IDE, e.g. BPA 10.1.3.3 and Jdeveloper 10.1.3.X, and SOA Suite 10.1.3.x
  • You can only add access rights on group-level in Business Architect, not on model- or object-level => in other words, you need to organize the folders properly
  • When your working within Business Architect and with models and objects you need to keep in mind you’re working in an object-oriented fashion, meaning= when an object is displayed on multiple models, you are referring to object occurences, not to the object itself. Each object occurence can have its own specified properties, independend from the other object occurrences
  • You can’t integrate Business Rules in the release 10.1.3.3 of BPA Suite
  • Swimlanes and pools aren’t generated into the BPEL Blue print, these aren’t part of the generation functionality

Hopefully these tips & tricks, comments can help you in your first steps using BPA Suite.

Oracle Open World – Let’s present some Use Cases

One week to go until Oracle Open World kicks of and it will be my 1st attendance, and to be honnest I’m pretty nervous ;o)

The last few weeks I’ve been trying to integrate my oracle bpel processes with a Flex User Interface, and with success … which means I have new material to discuss with the SOA Community.

The case I would like to discuss with the different fusion regional directors, ace’s and of course the product team will hold following topics (already explained on this blog):
- Use Case: Migrate existing Excel data using Oracle Data Integrator
- Use Case: Analyse Business processes using BPA Suite and BPM processes and generate bpel blue print using bpa suite
- Use Case: integrate Flex User Interface with existing Bpel Processes using Web Service Proxy Clients for the middletier

These are the 3 different approaches I’ve used so far for an existing customer, trying to evaluate BPA Suite and ODI using a real-time case and implemting a business process driven application using bpel & flex.

I’m really looking forward to the discussions to exchange experience & expertise !

See you there!

Join Me at Oracle OpenWorld Connect!

Oracle BPA Suite – An introduction

Oracle Business Process Analysis Suite is a new offering in the Oracle SOA Suite Stack which will bridge the gap between business process analysis and execution.

In short I will resume the most important features which were discussed during the presentation and demo:

  • 10.1.3.1 => loose integration between modeling and execution environments
  • 10.1.3.3 => full round-trip & integration between modeling and execution-platform through unique shared metadata model and Business Process Blue Print

Features:

  • Rapid prototyping of business requirements into bpel executables
  • IT can propose changes to business flow and executables and business can approve/reject changes in BPA
  • Continuous collaboration between business and IT during business process lifecycle
  • Local or Remote repositories can be used to enable multiple users working in a shared environment
  • Log in to BPA with different roles such as business analyst, data flow modellers, …
  • Process Participants can be mapped to existing user repositories, such as LDAP
  • No proprietary steps are being performed during the process lifecycle, everything is standards’ based BPMN methodology
  • Human Task Workflow-activities will use the same workflow patterns which you’re already familiar with in BPEL Designer
  • Oracle Business Process Publisher can be used by the business to get a real-time view on the defined processes in the shared repository :
  • When e-mail notification is configured, business users can share their thoughts, feedback with the BPA users
  • Jdeveloper 10.1.3.3 has extended functionality when creating bpel processes : Use Blue Print made available in BPA Server, in the shared repository, to create bpel process on existing blue print.
  • Merge changes made in BPA and Jdeveloper using the BPA-shared metadata model

In short BPA-Suite offers the whole business process lifecycle from analysis to implementation using a shared metadata repository.