From BPM and business automation to digital automation platforms

The business processes that create customer value are the critical piece that links together all of the different aspects of digital transformation. But still, many of the critical activities that contribute to it are either manual or a succession of disconnected workflows or applications that prevent organizations from having an end-to-end view of how their processes deliver customer value.  

Evolving from workflows to BPM – business process management – added a whole collaborative layer and execution structure to the traditional hierarchy and project-based structure of the enterprise. When it was paired with access to the critical data and documents, alongside activity visibility and business rules, it helped to exponentially grow productivity and agility in the enterprise for many years.

Nowadays, enterprises have discovered already how to use these technologies and apply them to work with structured and unstructured processes, to create business rules to guide and support decision making, or the importance of integrating process outputs and inputs in real time to external systems that interact with the processes. These process-centric applications are even cloud-ready so you can run your processes in the cloud and open them up more securely to all of your internal and external collaborators.

But times are changing. Productivity and agility are no longer the name of the game. It is no longer enough to provide ease of use, business, and IT collaboration, or fast modification of processes and rules. Speed and support for digital transformation have become top priorities. Those process-based applications need to be quickly deployed into production, be portable, reusable and consistent across environments, and scaled in the hybrid cloud. Our customers expect cloud-native technologies at the core of their processes. They expect to run their process workloads to scale across the hybrid cloud to provide a consistent experience to their customers and collaborators. Ideally, they also want to future-proof their investments with modern technologies such as containers.

Continue reading “From BPM and business automation to digital automation platforms”

Effective Case Management within a BPM Framework

In real life, organizations have workflows which may not fit into prescribed, sequential process path or which require human intervention or approval before the entire process can be completed. Within the business process world, more unstructured and unpredictable work is handled through case management rather than process management.

There are slightly different standards defined for case management and process management, which reflect the differences in the types of process flows and data being handled in each type of model.

But the question for business architects is which standard to use or whether to try to balance both — and then for developers to try to create models on different or shared development platforms.

A Quick Comparison of CMMN and BPM for Development Standards

First, it may be helpful to explain why there is a difference between business process management and case management. Both models are defined by two separate specifications, Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) and Case Model and Notation (CMMN), respectively.

Continue reading “Effective Case Management within a BPM Framework”

Process management and business logic for responsive cloud-native applications: Red Hat Process Automation Manager is released

Today, Red Hat announced the latest major release of its business process suite, with a new name and several major changes that pivot the focus of the product itself. Red Hat Process Automation Manager is about more than providing a business process modeler or optimizing resource allocation. This is the first generation (at Red Hat) of a digital automation platform — a hub where business users and technical developers can collaborate to create strategically-relevant, intelligent applications.

Red Hat Process Automation Manager has two core conceptual areas:

  • The first is based on decision management (the “intelligent” part of intelligent or even-driven applications). This includes the decision engine of Red Hat Decision Manager and allows automated, immediate responses to interactions, from event processing to resource optimization.
  • Second, Process Automation Manager provides the means of modeling and applying business logic within an application. In combination with a graphical UI, these creates a platform for business users to be able to design business logic in collaboration with the technical teams.

New feature: Process management + case management

The heart of a BPM platform is the “BP” — business process modeling. The previous BPM Suite supported BPMN, the notation specification for business process models, and DMN, the notation specification for data models. The assumption behind a lot of these specs is that the workflows or processes being modeled are relatively static or sequential. For certain types of business processes, that is an accurate assumption (things like resource optimization or scheduling). However, in many organizations, there are also processes which are not linear or which may follow different steps in a dynamic sequence or may be interrupted or require human intervention at certain points. These are generally defined within a related notation specification, Case Management Model Notation (CMMN).

While there are differences, there is also a lot of conceptual overlap between business processes / BPMN and case management processes / CMMN. Process Automation Manager combines the functionality of both process models and case management models within a single digital automation platform. (This is covered in more detail in the blog post here.)

Supporting both linear process / task models and dynamic or unpredictable case management models within the same platform allows developers to have a simpler development process (and, combined with other features like Process Automation Manager’s new graphical UI, makes collaboration with business users easier).

Process Automation Manager also supports other types of modeling and visualizing data and worflows:

  • Data modeling
  • Decision modeling
  • Custom data dashboards
  • Process simulations

New Feature: An easier way for business users to collaborate (graphical UI)

Previous versions of Red Hat JBoss BPM Suite were designed around business process logic, but were intended to be used by Java developers within the application development process. Beginning with this Process Automation Manager 7.0 release, there is a new Entando UI included with the platform. This provides an easier, graphical interface where business users can just drag and drop elements into their models — using ultimately the same platform that the developers are using to create the application. Business processes, rules, and logic can be written into the application essentially without having to write a single line of code.

This also effectively changes the workflow for creating event- and process-driven application. Previously, developers did all the work within their development environment. Now, business users can work in parallel (using the Process Automation Manager UI) to create artifacts which can be pulled into the developer’s IDE and code. Everything can then be packaged up and deployed in containers or other environments.

New feature: Cloud (and container) native applications

With more distributed, hybrid infrastructures, it is imperative that applications be able to function exactly the same regardless of the underlying platform. And those applications need to be designed, natively, to work in a distributed, dynamic environment so that they can be rapidly deployed, updated, or scaled.

Process Automation Manager can itself run in Red Hat OpenShift containers, in public or private clouds, on-premise, or in all environments — depending on the needs of your development and infrastructure teams. Additionally, the models and applications created using Process Automation Manager as a platform can be deployed into cloud instances, OpenShift containers, or local instances. This allows truly hybrid development, testing, and production environments.

Process Automation Manager components, applications, and models can all be exposed and accessed using REST APIs, allowing integration with other software applications or management tools.

Additional Resources

  • Dive a little deeper into process automation technology with our tech overview.
  • For general information about the Process Automation Manager, check out the datasheet.
  • There are different use cases for process automation and a business decision engine. The FAQ runs through some things to consider.
  • Get started by actually using the Process Automation Manager. Red Hat Developers has a whole “hello world” example, waiting for you.

Digital Automation Platforms: Injecting speed into application development

Red Hat has just published a new study by Carl Lehmann of the 451 Group, “Intelligent Process Automation and the Emergence of Digital Automation Platforms,” that examines the increasing importance of business automation technologies in modern business, and the ways that converged solutions (digital automation platforms) are bringing value to organizations engaged in digital transformation projects.

Carl writes that competitive advantage is enabled when an organization either does the same things as its rivals, but differently, or it does different things that are acknowledged as superior by customers. In today’s competitive markets, businesses are turning to next-generation digital automation platforms (DAP) to enable greater automation of key business functions and greater flexibility in responding to their customers’ needs.

A DAP is a set of tools and resources structured within a uniform framework to enable developers to rapidly design, prototype, develop, deploy, manage, and monitor process-oriented applications – from simple task-related workflows to dynamic unstructured collaborative activity streams and even highly structured cross-functional enterprise applications. To do so, DAPs are equipped with a range of new capabilities that go beyond those of their BPM and application development predecessors.

Continue reading “Digital Automation Platforms: Injecting speed into application development”

Why are our Application Platform Partners succeeding in Digital Transformation?

Last year we set out to start the Application Platform Partner Initiative with the objective to enable deeper collaboration with partners focused on application platform and emerging technologies. We planned to create a collaborative go-to-market strategy between Red Hat and participating partner organizations focused on optimizing the value chain for application development and integration projects.

The Application Platform Partner Initiative focuses on Application Development-related and other emerging technology offerings, which revenue increased 42% in our last fiscal year up to $624 million. Partners like the APPs are contributing to this growth and we are happy to see the momentum continuing, and their trust on Red Hat as a strategic partner. What started out as a pilot has developed into a fully fledged initiative with 28 partners across North America, who are as committed as we are to the role opens source plays at the core of digital transformation.

As part of the success of this initiative, for the first time this year, we have created the Application Platform Partner Pavilion in Red Hat Summit.  Arctiq, Crossvale, Kovarus, Levvel, Li9, Lighthouse, OSI, Shadow-Soft, VeriStor and Vizuri will join us this year in the pavilion. Don’t miss a chance to get to know the advanced solutions they have created on top of Openshift and Red Hat Middleware products, which they will be showcasing at Red Hat Summit. Check out, for example, Arctiq Value Stream Mapping (VSM), Crossvale CloudBalancer for Red Hat® OpenShift or Vizuri log aggregation solutions.

These partners are delivering a strong investment in enablement, and commitment in their go-to-market alliance with Red Hat, including co-marketing and sales collaboration. As some examples of planned activities, Arctiq is running a Modern Mobile App Development event and Crossvale an OpenShift roadshow).

Levvel has been an active participant in the APP program, doing joint webinars, customer workshops and panel discussions to promote Red Hat emerging technologies. As a result, they have influenced and closed quite a few customers and have a long list of potential opportunities. Don’t forget to attend their coming up event “App Transformation Workshop: Monoliths to Microservices”!

Shadow-Soft has been particularly focused on growing the customer base with our OpenShift and JBoss product family with innovative sales and marketing strategies that are turning into a growing pipeline of opportunities, and running events around digital transformation.

Veristor joined recently the APP program and is growing rapidly their different practices around OpenShift and Red Hat Middleware, like DevOps and Agile Consulting, Services and Software Development practice.

OSI, an international company with a long experience with JBoss, is also growing in the US and have worked on an Agile Integration demo environment focusing on JBoss Fuse Integration platform to support their customer engagements, including integration with cloud and on-premise systems. Try to attend their “Monoliths to Microservices: App Transformation Workshop” right after Summit.

Vizuri has been a Red Hat partner for over 10 years. Having delivered more than 120 JBoss-related engagements, their JBoss experience and expertise helps customers reduce risk and improve time-to-value, while avoiding project delays and unplanned downtime. You can’t miss their take on How To Manage Business Rules In A Microservices Architecture using OpenShift and JBoss BRMS.

Having recently joined the APP program, Astellent has heavily invested in enablement and marketing, while achieving exciting customer success. Read their views on the newly launched Red Hat Decision Manager 7.

Lighthouse has been helping businesses with the right mix of Red Hat’s public, on-premises, and hybrid cloud technologies, customizing them to fit their unique business needs. They have also been active with unique marketing events like the one with the Red Sox coming in May.

As you can see, APP partners are working closely with Red Hat to establish a sales, marketing, and delivery practice around Red Hat technologies, including Red Hat JBoss Middleware, Red Hat OpenShift, and Red Hat Mobile Application Platform.

In the words of John Bleuer, VP, Strategic Partners, North America, “I am thrilled that as year one of the program ends, the sophistication of our partner solutioning and delivery abilities has increased dramatically; many partners are working with us in industry and line of business (including healthcare, payments, and e-commerce); other partners are adding sophistication into the DevOps / automation practices with Openshift, Jenkins, and Ansible, while others are honing their skills delivering app modernization and integration & BPM solutions in a cloud native environment, containerized in OpenShift.  It’s an exciting time at Red Hat”.

The market is looking to digital transformation initiatives to grow and maintain competitive advantage. Challenges range from confined platforms to complex architectures, from rigid processes to lack of agility. Together with our partners, we can play a critical role to help our customers overcome those to become growing, competitive organizations.

We hope to see you at Red Hat Summit checking them out, as well as at the Red Hat Summit Ecosystem Expo!

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.

Continue reading “A DevOps approach to decision management”

“Micro-rules,” event-driven apps, and Red Hat Decision Manager

As we described in an earlier blog, microservices are mini-applications which are devoted to a single, specific function. They are discrete (independent of other services in the architecture), polyglot with a common messaging or API interface, and they have well-defined parameters.

As application development and IT operations teams have started streamlining and speeding up their processes with methodologies like Agile and DevOps, they have increasingly begun treating IT applications as microservices. This breaks up potential bottlenecks, reduces dependencies on services used by other teams, and can help make IT infrastructure less rigid and more distributed.

One area where we are seeing this looser, more distributed approach to service development is with business rules.

“Micro-rules”

Business rules and processes in a traditional structure tend to be centralized, with the complete set of functionality defined for all workflows. The problem with centralization is because there is a single, centralized collection of business rules, any changes to one set of rules can affect many other sets, even those for different business functions.

Micro-rules essentially treat each functional set of rules as its own service — well-defined, highly focused, and independent of other rules.

Figure – Function rule sets as micro-rules

Continue reading ““Micro-rules,” event-driven apps, and Red Hat Decision Manager”

Announcing: Red Hat Decision Manager 7.0 Is Now Available

Red Hat has announced the release of Red Hat Decision Manager 7. Decision Manager is the evolution of Red Hat JBoss BRMS and provides a platform to develop rules-based applications and services.

As applications and services become more central to business strategies, business users will become increasingly involved in the development process. Software that aids in creating applications without directly writing code is known as low-code development. Decision Manager provides tools, including an updated UI and enhanced wizards, that help business users participate more actively in application development.

Major Use Cases

Decision service as a microservice

Decision Manager has a more modular architecture, such as a decision service, an execution server, and a management interface. Each component can be containerized and deployed as an image on Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform. Developers can create discrete services for specific needs and deploy those “micro-rules” in a microservices architecture. This approach is covered more in another blog post.

Continue reading “Announcing: Red Hat Decision Manager 7.0 Is Now Available”

It’s Time To Accelerate Your Application Development With Red Hat JBoss Middleware And Microsoft Azure

The role of applications has changed dramatically.  In the past, applications were running businesses, but primarily relegated to the background.  They were critical, but more operational in the sense that they kept businesses running, more or less.  Today, organizations can use applications as a competitive advantage.  In fact, a well-developed, well-timed application can disrupt an entire industry.  Just take a look at the hotel, taxi, and movie rental industries respectively.

This can put more pressure on IT leaders.  Not only do they have to continue to run their daily business as efficiently as possible, but may also need to liberate resources to help drive innovation.  In other words, “do more with less.”  As a result, many are looking at ways to increase productivity and some are turning to modern development tools such as DevOps, containers, and microservices.  When making strategic decisions such as these, the technology, and infrastructure, should adapt to the needs of the business. Both now, and in the future.

When talking about infrastructure that can evolve as the business evolves, the answer is often the cloud.  However, when assessing application development technology that provides flexibility and enables IT leaders to better anticipate needs, it becomes a little more vague.  This is where Red Hat and Microsoft can come in.

Microsoft and  Red Hat have teamed up to offer Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Platform (JBoss EAP) on Microsoft Azure.  JBoss EAP is a modern application server that is designed to provide a modular cloud-ready architecture, powerful management and automation, and developer productivity. It offers support and deployment flexibility for Java EE, whether on-premise, virtual, or hybrid cloud environments. In addition, JBoss EAP is designed to fulfill the demands of modern applications in the areas of process, infrastructure, and architecture by delivering support for DevOps, hybrid cloud, and microservices, respectively.

JBoss EAP is  the cornerstone of Red Hat’s focus on and commitment to enterprise application development, and serves as the foundation for Red Hat’s portfolio of cloud-ready middleware products.  A portfolio that includes technology business rules (BRMS) and business process management (BPMS) capabilities. Combined with Microsoft’s enterprise-grade cloud computing platform, collectively, these solutions can deliver a diverse, open, lightweight, enterprise capable application development platform.

SCSK Corporation is a Japanese system integrator that designs and implements Internet of Things (IoT) solutions. The company used Red Hat JBoss BRMS to develop its own IoT platform, which it offers on Microsoft Azure, that is designed to filter, store, analyze, and visualize data sent from devices and sensors. Organizations can analyze large volumes of IoT data to help make better  business decisions. This requires a more reliable, scalable, and robust platform.  When asked if JBoss BRMS was chosen because of its complex event processing (CEP) engine, Naoaki Kato, Engineer in the SCSK Middleware Unit responded: “Yes, but there was one more important factor: the fact that it is a Red Hat product. Red Hat products have a strong track record in the enterprise market, and Red Hat offers great support.”

I had the privilege of  discussing the partnership with numerous attendees at Microsoft Ignite 2017 and believe that the partnership has been well received.  To wrap with another quote from Naoaki Kato, SCSK: “The Microsoft–Red Hat partnership was really great news for the enterprise market.”

* The use of the word ‘partnership’ does not mean a legal partnership or any other form of legal relationship between Red Hat and Microsoft.

3 ways to effectively prepare for process improvements in your digital journey

In our journey to transform our ways of working, our focus on our customers wishes and our plans to pivot to a digital business there is always a need for process improvement.

While the transformation to a digital business can encompass many aspects that are new to your organization, there are always existing investments in technologies and processes that need to be evaluated.

Some can be modernized and migrated on to the new infrastructure that will support the digital business and others end up remaining in place as legacy systems of record.

One thing is for sure, evaluating existing business processes and looking to improve their effectiveness is going to be a necessary step. With that in mind, here are three ways to effectively prepare for process improvements in your digital journey.

1. Effective BPM theory

The first step in any journey is to plan effectively and gather as much information from the experts as you can. For this step you have many options, but the following example previews the open technology and tooling that will ensure you are ready to tackle process improvements.

 

Schabell_JBoss_front1

2. Inventory existing processes

Identifying the list of existing processes in a business, both automated and non-automated processes will be the next step on the journey.

Businesses have processes in place that might be automated in some form, but showing signs of age or lack of effective execution. Others might have partial automation and exhibit a need for further automation at the time of evaluation. Finally, there can potentially be processes in your business that are crying out for automation and are hindering other processes with their lack of automation.

Collect all this information for evaluation without regard for size, level of automation or making decisions on priority for the next step.

3. Short list processes

Now that you’re able to browse all processes in your organization, identifying the short list where quick wins on process improvements is critical to the project’s success.
Everyone wants to see gains and building momentum with processes that can be improved both quickly and effectively builds confidence. Identify processes that have impact, are visible and can be effectively improved without having major impacts to the existing architecture or business process owner perceptions. This will be different for every organization, but crucial to building success and ensuring a smoother transition on your digital journey.
Armed with these three guidelines you’re ready to effectively prepare for process improvements in your digital journey.
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