BEA Process Management Upgrade Adds Smarts, Collaboration and an SOA Twist

Decision support, business rules and service bus/service registry integrations are among the improvements to BPM 6.0.
In the first major upgrade of its business process management (BPM) suite since its acquisition of Fuego last year, BEA released AquaLogic BPM 6.0 on Monday. Highlights of the upgrade include improved decision-support based on historical analysis, built-in business rule capabilities and improved collaborative capabilities. Appealing to IT as well as process owners, BEA has also made efforts to integrate BPM 6.0 with its services-oriented architecture (SOA) components.

To bolster process intelligence, BPM 6.0 lets you define "decision activities" and related parameters tied to manual process flows. Once these activities are defined, the system captures the decisions made and correlates the choices made to the associated parameters. Over time, the system builds up a decision memory that can be used to recommend and eventually automate decisions based on historical data.

A new business rules capability built into BPM 6.0 is designed to handle what Jesper Joergensen, director of product marketing, describes as the simple business rules encountered in many business processes. "More and more companies are recognizing the need for rules as part of the process environment, but for most of them, a separate business rules management system would be overkill," he explains. "This feature lets you create business rules using dialog boxes rather than code, and at run time, administrators can go in and modify those rules without having to redeploy the process."

Exploiting collaborative features gained through BEA's Plumtree acquisition, BEA has added an AquaLogic BPM Collaboration Edition that supports any number of projects with subscriptions and roles, a hierarchical folder structure for uploading and sharing documents, discussion forums, calendaring, to-do lists and other collaborative capabilities to the BPM suite including ad hoc uploading and sharing of documents, discussion forums, calendars, to-do lists and other collaborative features. The system is designed to let you embed collaborative steps, such as developing and reviewing documents, into larger processes. BPM 6.0 also includes new WorkSpace Extensions that expose processes and support participation through a user's tool of choice, be it a portal, stand-alone process workspaces, e-mail client or RSS reader.

BPM and SOA are often described as two sides of the same coin, but BEA has made special efforts in this upgrade to integrate the two environments. For instance, BPM 6.0 is designed to allow business processes to be registered as services with any standards-compliant Enterprise Service Bus or Service Registry, and, of course, there are pre-built integrations with BEA AquaLogic Service Bus and BEA AquaLogic Service Registry to automate end-to-end management and governance of process services.

"We're trying to make it easier for IT to adopt a BPM platform and deploy it enterprisewide together with their SOA infrastructure," explains Joergensen. "With the combination of our BPM suite and the service bus, any process that you build in the BPM suite can automatically become a managed service in your SOA infrastructure."