Oracle partners with IDS Scheer, a market leader in business analysis software, to further expand its offering with respect to Service Oriented Architectures. As a result of this co-operation, the long awaited Oracle Business Process Analysis Suite (BPA Suite) is now available for download from OTN. Yesterday evening I enjoyed a web conference that was presented by fellow Oracle Ace Director Geoffroy de Lamalle.
In one hour Geoffroy introduced the BPA Suite and explained and
demonstrated the relationships with the BPEL Process Manager component
of the SOA Suite. Thanks Geoffroy, fine presentation!
Improvements in Corporate Performance Management
Plan-Do-Check-Act, the infamous Deming-circle. So far Oracle’s offering in SOA space mainly focussed on ‘Doing and Checking’. At the least, the BPA Suite adds an integrated approach for Planning: a wealth of business models and a method to transform the business process models into a first-cut executable BPEL process. Or to put it differently: to ‘share’ the business model ‘with IT’ which is the actual term used in the BPA Suite. The automated support for translating a business process into a BPEL model should give a head start for the Doing aspect.
For improvements to Checking, add the capabilities of feeding data from BPEL to the BAM tool (Business Activity Monitoring) and back into the BPA Suite for investigation of bottlenecks in the process, e.g. using live data obtained from BAM for business process simulation that is also supported by the ARIS tool set. Ideally, this leads to a better understanding of the business processes and specific KPI’s and the business stakeholders may decide on appropriate Action. This, in turn, may result in a change of the Plan.
I believe the BPA Suite and its collaboration with SOA Suite is a major step in the area of business process modeling and the translation of the business process model into a first-cut BPEL executable model; it offers an integrated approach that helps to bridge the gap between business and IT, exactly as SOA sets out to do. I wonder whether business users and the tool stack presented here are ready for closing the entire Plan-Do-Check-Act circle. Using BAM data as a basis for simulations, Closed Loop BPM Engineering as Oracle puts it, may be something for the future.
BPA Suite + SOA Suite = Progressive Process Refinement?
The original ARIS tool supports more than 50 models that may be used to chart out the entire organization. In the Oracle BPA Method, Oracle created a ‘filter’ containing a subset of these models. Included in the filter set are modelers for Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) and Event Process Chains (EPC) for modeling business processes. Moreover, Oracle extended these modelers in order to integrate with its SOA Suite. For example, in-line with its BPEL counterpart, which eventually is the modeling target for executing the business process, the BPA Suite allows the addition of Human Workflow and Notification activities to business models.
How does it work? Using BPA Suite a Business Analyst creates a business process model using a mix of modelers (i.e. different views for refining the business process model). In the process, Oracle envisions that a Process Architect, who operates on the intersection of business and IT, takes over from there. The Process Architect uses the BPA Suite to add further details to the process models. For example, he may start process decomposition or perform the first mapping of business services to IT service definitions. In close collaboration with the Business Analyst and the BPEL Developers the Process Architect generates the first Business Process Blueprint which transforms the business process into a BPEL process.
The Blueprint can be opened in JDeveloper as is shown in the following screen shot that was taken during Geoffroy’s web presentation:
The BPEL developer can switch between business blueprint and BPEL process model and, in turn, add further (technical) implementation details, constantly refining the process.
Moreover, the changes made by the BPEL Developer can be fed back into the business model. And what’s more: the Business Analyst can continue to make changes to the BPMN or EPC models and share his evolving ideas these with the developers as well. For that purpose, the tool stack allows updating and merging of Business Blueprint with BPEL Process models as is shown in the following pictures. Thr first shows a report after merging business and IT models:
The following screenshot shows how the results of merging the two models may be inspected:
Those of you who have tried merging a version-controlled BPEL model that was modified by multiple developers know how hard it is to do that. That is why Oracle, probably in close co-operation with IDS Scheer, came up with the Process Blueprint integration approach between business process model and the BPEL model of the executable process. They implemented a meta-data driven Blueprint Model or logical model as is outlined in the following picture which was taken from an Oracle presentation on the subject:
This concept has the looks of solid interface design.
Get Oracle BPA Suite
More info on Oracle BPA Suite: http://www.oracle.com/technology/products/bpa/index.html
Download an evalution version of Oracle BPA SUite version 10.1.3.3: http://www.oracle.com/technology/software/products/bpa/index.html
During the installation you are given the choice: use the bundled Oracle Lite database as the repository for the BPA Suite or an Oracle XE database (the full-blown Repository
Server is not available as part of the evalution version). I hope Oracle adopts this approach for the developer installation of the SOA Suite.
The download page also offers links to several manuals, from an extensive Methodology manual to a Quick Start guide.