Red Hat Tuesday took a key step in its efforts to extend its JBoss middleware with the release of Red Hat JBoss BPM Suite 6, a comprehensive open source business process management (BPM) suite that combines BPM with business rules management (BRM) and complex event processing (CEP).
The new suite is built on a combination of BPM technology from Red Hat's 2012 acquisition of Polymita Technologies and the latest version of Red Hat's business rules platform, JBoss BRMS 6, also released Tuesday. The new suite is a platform for BPM that provides support for modeling, automating, simulating and monitoring business processes.
Together with the JBoss BRMS platform for business rules management and complex event processing, it gives organizations advanced decision and process automation capabilities, letting business users make necessary changes directly rather than requiring IT to manually rewrite application code.
Mike Piech, general manager of Red Hat JBoss Middleware, calls the new BPM Suite a significant move up the middleware stack, empowering not just developers and hardcore enterprise coders, but also business analysts.
"We have steadily built out the Red Hat JBoss Middleware portfolio over the years, adding pieces to help our customers on their own journey of creating more integrated, intelligent and innovative application ecosystems," Piech says.
"JBoss BPM Suite is the apogee of our open source enterprise application development portfolio, and today's launch marks a milestone in our middleware strategy of delivering a comprehensive platform that empowers developers and business users to innovate and compete," Piech says.
Addressing Visibility, Agility and Consistency
Pierre Fricke, director of Product Marketing, Integration and BPM at Red Hat, adds that the suite helps organizations address three key challenges they face today: visibility, business agility and consistency.
On the visibility front, he says, JBoss BPM Suite and JBoss BRMS give organizations the capability to see how their business is functioning, identify where bottlenecks may be occurring and determine what they can do to improve the way the organization works.
When it comes to business agility, Fricke says that the suite gives business users the capability to own, manage and change processes, rules and policies as market conditions change. By putting that power in the hands of business users rather than requiring IT to make changes manually, he says organizations can respond faster and compete more effectively.
Finally, he says, the suite addresses consistency through automation. Manual intervention in business processes and decision management leads to inconsistent outcomes and high labor costs as individuals interpret business rules differently. With automation, the suite allows organizations to execute key processes and decisions the same way every time.
Key features of the new suite include the following:
- Advanced business user tools. Red Hat says JBoss BPM Suite 6 offers tooling that makes rule and process definitions visible and understandable. Tools include a drag-and-drop BPMN2 process modeler, a graphical data modeler and business activity monitoring (BAM) dashboards and reports, along with rule authoring and management tools from JBoss BRMS 6.
- Powerful integration. The suite combines a runtime rule engine and CEP features from JBoss BRMS with a business process execution server that can support a variety of workload needs.
- Flexible deployment options. Both the JBoss BPM Suite 6 and JBoss BRMS 6 are designed for deployment on-premises and in virtual and cloud environments. Both products can leverage JBoss Enterprise Application Platform 6 clustering to meet scalability and high availability deployment needs, and they are both compatible with platform-as-a-service (PaaS) environments like Red Hat's OpenShift.
Open Source BPM Aims to Take a Business to the Next Level
As an example of how effective BPM can take a business to the next level, Fricke describes a scenario in retail.
"A customer is on his way to a store," Fricke says. "He's already checked the retailer's website and confirmed that the desired item is in stock, as well as double-checked the directions. Once in the store, the innovative retailer stays connected with coupons or cross-sell offers, guides the customer to the shortest check-out lines or offers incentives based on buying patterns designed to attract the customer back to the store in the future."
To fully engage with a customer, you need to understand your customer in context. A customer on the road might want information about your closest location, the quickest route to that location, the route with the lightest traffic, etc. A customer on the street might want weather information, retailer suggestions, and information about product sales or where to find lunch nearby. A customer in the store might want personalized service, information about the shortest check-out lines, product suggestions and incentives to come back.
It's an appealing scenario of customer engagement that depends on successfully understanding both historical and real-time data related to a customer's wants and needs (not to mention opt-in from the customer). But most IT infrastructures today don't support a holistic view of a customer. Instead, numerous applications and business processes have a partial view of each customer, and it's nearly impossible, in many cases, to get a big picture view.
"Manual integration and management of the data connections and format translations can have a significant impact on how quickly solutions can be developed, deployed and adapted," Fricke says. "Data virtualization and integration can address this need, providing simultaneous access to many data types and sources across the organization and making them available to applications in an easily consumable manner. This can be particularly effective for taking intelligent action in support of customer-facing business processes."
"With accelerated application development and deployment, and the necessary data at their fingertips, retailers can begin to integrate the applications and build new and reusable services that provide IT and business process analysts with building blocks to create composite applications, BPM processes, mobile applications and cloud services that serve the customer," Fricke says.
"With the foundation of an integrated application, data and business services infrastructure in place, retailers can add the capstone to their IT organization: automated business processes that serve the customer with intelligent information and offerings. A comprehensive business process management suite can coordinate customer interactions through various devices and locations and automate the back-end processes that support the customer experience."
Thor Olavsrud covers IT Security, Big Data, Open Source, Microsoft Tools and Servers for CIO.com. Follow Thor on Twitter @ThorOlavsrud. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline, Facebook, Google + and LinkedIn.