A DevOps approach to decision management

Sometimes we would like to change the behavior of an application fast. I mean, really fast.

Traditional development cycles for enterprise applications take weeks if not months for a new version to be ready in production. Even in the world of DevOps, containers, and microservices, where we can spin up new versions of an app in days, or even hours, we need to go through development cycles that are too far away from the business users.

Welcome to the world of business rules and decision services, along with low code development.

When you think about it, there is a significant part of every application which the business users would like to modify very fast, in some cases directly and without the involvement of a development team. Do we want to change discounts? Or create a new promotion? Do we want to create a new incentive for our sales force? Or change the way a claim is approved or denied?

Wait. What if the application is giving away products for free and needs to be fixed right away?

Even for developers, it can be a significant effort to modify an application every time one of these needs a change, not to mention if a new set of variables is needed and the application needs to be re-designed.

When we look at this from a rules perspective, making these changes becomes easy. Very easy. The recently announced Red Hat Decision Manager 7 (formerly known as Red Hat JBoss BRMS) enables business users to directly participate in authoring the rules.  Business users can change the parameters that go into the rule in production, or define new rules altogether. The application is just waiting for the rules to be processed next time a claim, or purchase or petition arrives, that will change the application behavior.

In words of Brad Kovacik, VP of Alliances for our North American partner Shadow-Soft, “The announcement of Red Hat Decision Manager 7 further enables our customers to respond immediately to business, legal, and environmental changes — helping them stay in front of their competition.”

Now, let’s move one step ahead.

Now, let’s move one step ahead. How about decision management? How do we describe and model repeatable decisions which in turn establish the rules interaction?

The DMN standard (Decision Model and Notation) was designed by OMG to provide a consistent modeling notation for decisions that relate to business rules and decision management. In essence, DMN tries to do for decisions what BPMN (also from OMG) does for processes: empower the business to take charge of the logic that drives its operations, through a vendor-independent diagramming language.

Red Hat Decision Manager 7 is the first commercial solution to implement the full DMN v1.1 runtime (compliance level 3).

Another theme for Decision Manager 7 is “cloud-native decision management.” Modern applications are designed to run and scale in the cloud. Complex decision systems need to be able to scale different parts of the application at different paces, which the cloud is an excellent mechanism for (especially when the underlying platform is Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform). That is why Decision Manager 7 is specifically designed for the cloud as it is container and microservice ready.

Decision management applications can now be decomposed in decision services (some call it “micro-rules”), which are standalone, decoupled, units that can be deployed and invoked as a microservices and can scale in a cloud environment according to the usage of each rule.

In the words of Bettina Widmann, account manager at our partner in Germany, Viada, “Decision Manager is fully supported on OpenShift, it’s easy to deploy and flexible to align with microservices architectures. … Our customers have been waiting for the next generation of Red Hat Business Rules Management (BRMS) and are excited about the new features and opportunities.”

These and many other are the reasons why we have decided to change the product name from “Business Rules Management System” to “Decision Manager.” We are offering now a decision management platform, that goes beyond providing a state-of-the-art business rules management systems. It also allows organizations to execute DMN; capture streams of data and events via a CEP engine; allow for resource optimization and operations research with Business Optimizer (aka Optaplanner) in complex scenarios such as logistics routing, cloud optimization or job scheduling. And all while supporting cloud-native application development with microservices and containers.

Not only we at Red Hat, but also our partners are equally excited about this new release. Service and solution-oriented partners (GSIs, regional SIs, solution providers, VARs) will be able to help customers to build rules-driven cloud-native applications. ISVs will be able to embed business and micro-rules into their business applications and modernize with containers or microservices. Cloud providers will be able to run these workloads in the public cloud.

“For organizations pursuing digital transformation,” said Erik Melander, CEO of Astellent, Red Hat Decision Manager 7 “represents a real opportunity to harness the intelligence of its experts while simultaneously accelerating software development and adoption with cloud-native architecture.”

And it all fits together in what we call a “DevOps approach to business automation.” DevOps is “an approach to culture, automation, and platform design to provide better business value and responsiveness. The goal is to increase the speed and flexibility with which new features and services are delivered;” and it has three pillars: a culture centered on collaboration and openness, automation to accelerate application delivery, and a dynamic, programmable platform.

Our DevOps approach to business automation combines the agility to change the application behavior, with team collaboration between business users and IT teams, with a dynamic, programmable platform, Decision Manager 7 on OpenShift.

As we can read on Red Hat’s corporate blog today, “ultimately, the value of these technologies can manifest itself as an increase in agility, e.g., operational efficiency, time-to-market, or market and customer demand; a more responsive and personalized customer experience; and lower costs.” Let’s realize them together for our customers!

Learn more about Red Hat Decision Manager 7 here.

From our partners

Erik Melander, CEO of Astellent, USA
“We are excited to see Red Hat’s continued investment in business automation with Red Hat Decision Manager 7”, says Erik Melander, CEO of Astellent. “For organizations pursuing digital transformation, it represents a real opportunity to harness the intelligence of its experts while simultaneously accelerating software development and adoption with cloud-native architecture.”

Brad Kovacik, VP of Alliances, Shadow-Soft, USA
“Our customers rely on Shadow-Soft to help them deliver applications to market faster. The announcement of Red Hat Decision Manager 7 further enables our customers to respond immediately to business, legal, and environmental changes – helping them stay in front of their competition. We’re excited to help customers build rules-driven cloud native applications with RHDM7.”

Bettina Widmann, Account Manager, Viada, Germany
“We are very excited about the announcement of Red Hat Decision Manager 7. Our customers have been waiting for the the next generation of Red Hat Business Rules Management (BRMS) and are excited about the new features and opportunities. The Decision Manager is fully supported on OpenShift, it’s easy to deploy and flexible to align with microservices architectures. We’re looking forward to seeing this accelerate our customers’ success.”

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