First experiences with Oracle BPA (Business Process Analysis Suite)

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I just noticed that the Oracle BPA (Business Process Analysis Suite) is available for download from OTN: http://www.oracle.com/technologies/soa/bpa-suite.html . I downloaded the 236 Mb zipfile and did the installation (not the Oracle Universal Installer but a InstallShield process instead). Installation took me about five minutes and required to more effort than unzip the archive, run the setup.exe, choose the target directory and sit back & relax.

 

Oracle BPA is founded on the the BPM market-leading ARIS tool. I am anxious to find out what Oracle added to ARIS. It is to be expected that the Oracle specific extensions to ARIS will increase over time.

My first impressions after actually starting the tool:....

It turns out I have installed a Demo Version, a trial that will expire on the first of February. That is a first for software downloaded from OTN – typically it is the full production software, no limitations for trial usage at all. I assume this restriction follows from the license agreement between Oracle and IDS Scheer, the vendor of ARIS.

I am greeted by a pleasant user interface, that is the starting point for any business process modeling activities:

This demo version works against its own local database. Normally Oracle BPA can run against central repositories as well; I am not sure yet whether that applies to the trial.

The trial of Oracle BPA is shipped with a demo, that illustrates many of types of models we can create.

 

The Explorer overview shows all elements in the current project:

 

 

One of the things I did not realize about Oracle BPA, is that also can be used to create Entity Relationship Diagrams, in a slightly different way than I am used to from Oracle Designer. An example ERD from the demo project – the Sales Data Model, with entities Customer, Organization Unit, Product etc. A little model icon indicates a drill-down opportunity, to see more details from the element in question:

Drilling down on Customer gives us the following detail view, with the attributes:

Other diagrams supported by Oracle BPA include: Organization Function Hierarchy, Organizational Chart, Value Added Chain Diagram, Screen Designs (!), Objective Diagrams, something called Views, Enterprise Architecture Models, Matrix Diagrams, UML Class Diagrams, UML Component Diagram, UML Use Case Diagrams, BPEL Processes, Data Warehouse Structures and many more.

An example of a Data Warehouse Structure (quite impressive I have to admit):

 

 And finally for now an example of a screen design:

 

The first impression of Oracle BPA (actually, it is the second after the demonstration at OOW 2006) is quite overwhelming. It seems that many different aspects of Business Analysis, including not just process analysis, but fairly detailed data modeling, screen design, data warehouse modeling, BPEL process design and even Java interface and class modeling can be done. Of course this tool has some overlap with other Oracle products, such as Oracle Designer, JDeveloper and to some extent OWB. I am curious to see what the integration – if any – will be with these tools. Can we exchange model data? The power of Oracle BPA to me seems to be the central repository where all analysis data can be stored and that all analysts can work against.

 
I have not yet seen if you can work off-line, then reconnect and synchronize with the central repository and subsequently work off-line again. That would be ideal I believe. I have also not yet looked at the functionality for publishing the model-data through a web-browser, thus making it available to end-users across the organization. That seems to be another major boon, integrating process analysis far more with the actual day to day business in the organization.

By the way: It may just be my laptop, but I find the tool somewhat sluggish. It is not an enormous treat to browse around in these demo models.

Resources

The Oracle BPA documentation can be found at: http://www.oracle.com/technology/software/products/bpa/index.html

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About Author

Lucas Jellema, active in IT (and with Oracle) since 1994. Oracle ACE Director for Fusion Middleware. Consultant, trainer and instructor on diverse areas including Oracle Database (SQL & PLSQL), Service Oriented Architecture, BPM, ADF, Java in various shapes and forms and many other things. Author of the Oracle Press book: Oracle SOA Suite 11g Handbook. Frequent presenter on conferences such as JavaOne, Oracle OpenWorld, ODTUG Kaleidoscope, Devoxx and OBUG. Presenter for Oracle University Celebrity specials.

4 Comments

  1. Carlo Pacheco on

    I was wondering if you can help with some questions:
     
    1.    Oracle’s BPA is a tool for modeling business process, from high-level process entities to physical data structures (tables and views)?
     
    2.    The tool allows to do reverse engineer from database physical entities?  Only Oracle databases or no-oracle (SQL Server, DB2)?
    This synchronization with physical models can be automatic (by the tool itself)  or via other types of files and interfaces?
     
    3.    BPA have security and role privileges for maintaining the models?
     

  2. Hi Natalie,

    We have been using Oracle BPA solutions since 2006 (starting with pre-release versions) at M&S Consulting. Yes, we have successfully implemented/integrated with a SOA environment and will be happy to share our experiences with you along with differences between ARIS and BPA.

    Ashok Aggarwal
    info@mandsconsulting.com

  3. Oracle is trying to sell Oracle BPA to our company, but it seems they only have one person in the world that can actually demo the tool. In the end we had to see a demo of Aris instead. We now need to determine the difference between Aris and the Oracle BPA tool. Can anyone tell me what the difference is? Do you know of any organisations that have used it successfully within a SOA environment?