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Business Process Management Software Vendors, Part 2: IBM

Published
  • October 01 2005, 1:00am EDT

This current series of columns covers major business process management software vendors and their products used to automatically generate executable XML-based business process management code from process diagrams using business process management languages.

IBM offers extensive support for Web services and business process integration through its WebSphere product family. WebSphere Studio Application Developer is an integrated development environment (IDE) for developing J2EE Web services. Business process management is provided by the WebSphere Business Integration product family.

Business process models are used so that business rules and processes can be clearly documented for users. These schematic process diagrams communicate business aspects of processes for users; IT developers use Unified Markup Language (UML) diagrams to document the greater detail that they need for coding. UML diagrams are very important when coding new software from scratch; however, with the increasing use of Web services, there will be greater use of business process models for automatic generation of executable business process management logic.

In 2002, IBM purchased Rational Software and the Rational Rose UML product family to enhance their move to model-driven architecture for software development. We earlier saw in relation to ebXML BPSS (Business Process Specification Schema) that UML diagrams are used for automatic generation of BPSS executable code. There has since been significant IBM development activity to transform automatically between business process models and UML diagrams using the IBM UML Transformer.

This business process model transformation feature ensures that both process models and UML models are traceable. These models show broad process outlines, functional requirements and eventually the elements that actually make up the software artifacts under construction. IBM states that the UML Transformer allows developers to:

  • Produce a clear set of development plans.
  • Link UML models to business process management process models.
  • Model business software systems in UML using six different visual diagrams: class, use case, sequence, collaboration, state and activity.
  • Transform common elements between UML models and business process management business process models.
  • Use sequence and collaboration diagrams to see the system's objects, the messages among the objects and the system's logic flows.

IBM provides full J2EE support for Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) generation and execution from process models with IBM WebSphere Business Integration Server Foundation V5.1 (WBISF), a follow-on product to WebSphere Application Server Enterprise V5.0. It is used in conjunction with WebSphere Studio Application Developer (AD) Integration Edition V5.1 to build and deploy BPEL processes with a runtime environment for BPEL execution. These products run on Windows, Linux, IBM z/OS and OS/400 for execution.
A drag-and-drop design tool is provided by Process Choreographer in WebSphere Studio Application Developer to visually define the sequence and flow of business processes, with compensation support for transaction "roll-back" of loosely coupled business processes that cannot be undone automatically by the application server. Tools are provided for defining, executing and managing business rules, organizing business rules into logical categories using business rule beans. The support for volatile business rules includes the ability to update business rules at runtime without the need to bring the application or the server down.

WBISF also includes WebSphere Business Integration Monitor, which is a real-time monitor that utilizes visual dashboards to provide a dynamic view of business processes, for business performance management and improved decision making. As summarized by IBM: "WebSphere Business Integration Modeler is a state-of-the-art product used to define, model, analyze, simulate, and report business processes extending WBISF with business tooling to visualize process impact for today's competitive global marketplace."

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