Decision Model & Notation – A new approach to business rules

Business rule engines (BRE) have been around for a long time. Introduced in the early 1990s, BREs have found application in many industries, particularly those that are heavily regulated where compliance and auditability are key concerns. A BRE enables complex rules and regulations to be encoded in a rule language, some of which bear a passing resemblance to English. The BRE can then evaluate the rules against enterprise data to ensure that the business transactions, etc. that the enterprise is performing comply with those rules. Today one of the most popular rule engines is Drools, an open source engine sponsored by Red Hat with a powerful rule language, called DRL, and a highly efficient algorithm that can scale to support hundreds of thousands of rules and terabytes of data.

Rule engines are a great idea. It’s much easier to simply specify all the rules that should apply to a particular transaction than it is to write a program in a traditional language like Java to verify compliance. And it’s much easier to change the rules in a BRE when needed than to modify and test a traditional application. Today’s focus on digital transformation is finding ever wider applications for BREs, from cleansing big data, to fraud detection to identifying patterns in event streams from the Internet of Things.

Continue reading “Decision Model & Notation – A new approach to business rules”

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”

Learning Process Driven Application Development with JBoss BPM

Are you interested in an introduction to the concepts of process management (BPM)?

Do you want to learn how your business can leverage process driven application delivery?

Are you looking for an easy to understand guide to mastering Red Hat JBoss BPM Suite tooling?

Do you want a step-by-step introduction to setting up JBoss BPM Suite, then coverage of practical and important topics like data modeling, designing business rules and processes,  detailed real world examples, and tips for testing?

For the last few years I’ve been working on putting years of working with JBoss BPM Suite, community projects Drools and jBPM together in one easy to understand book.

In 2017, Red Hat put the first chapter online for free and literally thousands downloaded it starting their journey on the road to delivering process driven application with JBoss BPM Suite. Many of you have reached out over the years to ask about the completion of this book and where you can get it.

The good news isthat the book is available and Red Hat’s providing ebook downloads for free!

Let’s look at how this works, shall we?

Continue reading “Learning Process Driven Application Development with JBoss BPM”

“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.

How to integrate business logic in processes with JBoss BPM

In June 2016 the Early Access Program (MEAP) started for the book Effective Business Process Management with JBoss BPM.

What is a MEAP?

The Effective Business Process Management with JBoss BPM MEAP gives you full access to read chapters as they are written, get the finished eBook as soon as it’s ready, and receive the paper book long before it’s in bookstores.

You can also interact with the author, that’s me, on the forums to provided feedback as the book is being written. So come on over and get started today with Effective Business Process Management with JBoss BPM.

The way the MEAP works is that every month or so Manning puts a new chapter online. As of this week chapter 5 is available and those already in the MEAP will have access to start reading the chapter.

This is a large chapter and it is one of the harder topics to confine to a single chapter. I do expect to split this chapter up in the future so that you have the basics and then more advanced topics regarding learning to effectively implement your business logic with JBoss BPM.

To give you an idea of what’s available so far:

You can read this excerpt online before you decide, but I look forward to hearing from you on the content and stay tuned for more.

 

See more by Eric D. Schabell, contact him on Twitter for comments or visit his home site.

How to get started with JBoss BPM

If you are evaluating, exploring or just plain interested in learning more about Business Process Management (BPM), then read onwards as this is what you have been waiting for.
While there are quite a few resources online, often they are focused either on community project code that is constantly changing or disjointed in such a manner that it is very difficult for you to find a coherent learning path.
No more.
Just a few months back, in June, the early access program for Effective Business Process Management with JBoss BPM kicked off. This book is focused on a coherent path of learning to get you started with BPM and it focuses on JBoss BPM Suite as the Open Source BPM solution of choice.
The first chapters have been put online and you can both read along as the book is written, while interacting with the author in the online forums.

Deal of the Day

Today only, half off the price of Effective Business Process Management with JBoss BPM, so head on over and grab yourself a copy using the code dotd081716au to get started with JBoss BPM Suite.

The deal will go live at Midnight US ET and will stay active for ~48 hours, running a little longer than a day to account for time zone differences.

If you would like to help out with socializing this news, here is a tweet you can cut and paste into your social networks:

 

See more by Eric D. Schabell, contact him on Twitter for comments or visit his home site.

 

Upcoming Webinar: Migrating to Open Source Integration and Automation Technologies

Balaji Rajam (principal architect) and Ushnash Shukla (senior consultant) from Red Hat will be conducting a webinar about the ability to integrate data from disparate sources with people and processes. This is a crucial part of strategies for data integration.

Data is increasingly moving from being an asset within an organization to one of the key business drivers and products, regardless of industry. The ability to integrate data from disparate sources is a crucial part of business digital strategy. Many organizations have been locked into proprietary and closed software solutions like TIBCO, but as the IT environments transform again into microservices, agile, and cloud-based infrastructures, those proprietary systems may not be able to keep up – or it may be too cost-prohibitive to try. Open source offers standards-based approaches for application interoperability with potentially lower costs and faster development times. This webinar looks at three key aspects of effectively moving from proprietary to open source solutions:

  • Recommendations for migrating from TIBCO to open source applications
  • Performing data integrations
  • Defining automated business processes and logic

Registration is open. The webinar is August 9 at 11:00am Eastern Time (US).

register_now

Fun Follow Up: Webinar Q&A

I will collect any questions asked during the webinar, and I’ll do a follow-up post on Friday, August 12, to try to capture the most interesting questions that arise.

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