Book Review: Design Principles for Process-driven Architectures Using Oracle BPM and SOA Suite 12c (Packt, June 2015)

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I recently came across an unexpected gem: this book titled “Design Principles for Process-driven Architectures Using Oracle BPM and SOA Suite 12c” by a collective of authors I know well and happily collaborate with: Torsten Winterberg, Mark Simpson, Guido Schmutz, Danilo Schmiedel, Hajo Normann, Sven Bernhardt, Matjaz B. Juric. The book’s website is here: Design Principles for Process-driven Architectures Using Oracle BPM and SOA Suite 12c.

In this book, the authors present a clear overview of why and how to automate business processes – in various ways. They discuss normative business processes – whose execution is predictable, frequently even straight through – and show how BPM(N) is a great means to implement those, leveraging BPM Suite 12c and SOA Suite 12c. Then they tame the unpredictable in Adaptive Case Management (ACM): dealing with the category of business processes that is not so much restricted to a predictable flow and in which professional users – knowledge workers – have to exercise control over the execution of the business process. The authors explain how adaptive case management is supported in Oracle BPM Suite 12c – using very clear language and some compelling examples.

I truly appreciate the logical way the topics are presented in this book. Clear structure, historical background, some scientific references, introduction of relevant industry standards and many practical examples that show how challenges originate in the real world and solutions work in the real world.

For most topics, the book provides patterns and reference architectures – that explain the general structure of solution architectures to address specific challenges and also map these to the latest Oracle products. Solution architects such as myself will gladly make use of this valuable material in our daily jobs.

Some of the chapters I would like to specifically mention:

* ACM – the authors explain very well when and why Adaptive Case Management is a much better approach to process automation than the normative BPM(N) way of thinking. They show how to design a case (for lack of a better term – as they argue) and tell how their sample for insurance claim processing made its way into the CMMN standard for ACM modeling’s reference material:

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* Business Rules – a tricky subject for several reasons including lack of common understanding what business rules are, the  interaction of technology and business (objectives) and the not so easy to understand and use technology; the authors do a good job of positioning the Business Rule component and explaining how to make use of Business Rules in business processes

* Mobile and Multi Channel – a discussion of putting custom and mobile user interfaces to provide insight and interaction points for human users on top of and into business processes; the reference architecture provided for mobile applications is valuable, rich and very clear.

* Event Processing – always a favorite topic of mine, this chapter provides a great introduction, overview and set of examples and guidelines for leveraging events and implementing an EDA (Event Driven Architecture). Many guidelines any organization will arrive at after lengthy discussions are available for free in this chapter. The conceptual architecture diagram is well thought out and very comprehensive. I am impressed!
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* Business Activity Monitoring – this chapter explains how process analytics can be gathered from BPEL and BPM processes and leveraged in BAM 12c to interpret and analyze, visualize and turn into action. The chapter does not discuss case analytics for ACM – which I can understand since as far as I know there is no current support in this area; I feel like the author could have mentioned this fact and preferably provide a work around suggestion. However, this is only a very mild suggestion, not a harsh criticism.

The book uses the case of a car rental company (Rent Your Legacy Car) to illustrate various topics. Even though it does not delve into details – you will not find step by step instructions to implement the case – it does provide enough details to get a firm grasp of what the tooling can do for you as well as some indication of how to achieve that. It makes the book accessible to developers as well as architects looking for an overview and not necessarily every last little detail.

The preface states the intended target audience: “This book is intended for BPM and SOA architects, analysts, developers, and project managers who are responsible for, or involved in, business process development, modeling, monitoring, or implementation of composite, process-oriented applications.” I can confirm that indeed this audience will benefit from reading this book.

I can only congratulate the authors on their achievement: a seriously valuable and very readable book. Job well done, gentlemen! And to you as prospective reader I would like to enthusiastically and respectfully suggest that indeed you should read this book to grasp how Oracle Fusion Middleware 12c will help to design and realize process driven architecture with the potential for tremendous business value.

About Author

Lucas Jellema, active in IT (and with Oracle) since 1994. Oracle ACE Director and Oracle Developer Champion. Solution architect and developer on diverse areas including SQL, JavaScript, Kubernetes & Docker, Machine Learning, Java, SOA and microservices, events in various shapes and forms and many other things. Author of the Oracle Press book Oracle SOA Suite 12c Handbook. Frequent presenter on user groups and community events and conferences such as JavaOne, Oracle Code, CodeOne, NLJUG JFall and Oracle OpenWorld.

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