IBM Unifies BPM Platform

It has finally happened what we were all anxious anticipating and speculating about. IBM announced how they will unify their SOA BPM platform in the upcoming version. During the IBM Impact 2011 conference in Las Vegas (April 10-13) main attention was focused right on unified IBM BPM-SOA platform called IBM Business Process Manager (IBM BPM).

So what was is going on and how will the new platform look like? Which products are staying which will be deprecated? How the terminology will be shifted? What is new for the WPS users and what is new for the WLE users? What this means for existing deployments, how will they be migrated? How was the integration of the Process Server and Lombardi Edition process runtime unified? How will the Lombardi and Process Server processes interact? How will we design business processes and integrations in the future?

So a lot of questions are arising from IBM announcement. We will be trying to answer them in this and fallowing blog posts.

What is going on is that basically IBM is taking existing WebSphere products that were rather independent and integrating them in unified platform. Fragmentation of products happened in the past as a result of the acquisitions; remember Lombardi and ILOG for now.

WebSphere Lombardi Edition and WebSphere Process Server were finally integrated in a new platform called IBM Business Process Manager (IBM BPM). The unification objectives were to provide platform that will be simple, powerful, enable governance and visibility. Did they make it; did they create the most powerful BPM platform on the planet?

Definitely Lombardi Edition and Processes Server were best-of-breed and the upcoming integration of both will have impact on the BPMS ecosystem. IBM is shifting his strategy to more business-centric from rather to developer-centric and this helped him to unify its products in a more BPM friendly manner. Big role in this shift are playing Lombardi tools which became the core of the new platform.

IBM Business Process Manager has so many capabilities that it will be available in three different configurations (Express, Standard, and Advanced). All tools previously existing in different products are now available as one product. Company could choose appropriate configuration matching stage of their BPM program.

Did this unification impacted terminology? IBM is mainly dropping WebSphere prefix for their BPM tools. We will be designing processes in Process Designer (IPD) and designing not developing integrations in Integration Designer (IID). Designed processes will then run on the Process Server. More examples of the new terms can be spotted in the table below.

New IBM BPM Terminology

How all these “new” products constitute IBM Process Manager Platform? The main piece of platform is rather new (to WPS users) and it is called Process Center (WLE users should be familiar with it). It acts as a central BPM repository for the processes, services and related artifacts like Business objects (XSD) and Service Interfaces (WSDL). Process Center enables centralized governance of the BPM. This means that managing of the process life cycle through versioning and deployment will be carried out in Process Center.

While Process Center represent central repository of the processes it also has information about server environment. This enables publishing processes directly to the Process Server from Process Center. It has capabilities to define test, staging and production environments.

Users using Process Designer or Integration Designer will collaborate through Process Center. While Process Designer as known from Lombard has active connection to repository, the Integration Designer connection is passive. This means that synchronization with the central repository has to be made on regular intervals with build-in sync mechanisms.

Process Designer has all of the capabilities with look and feel from WebSphere Lombardi AE and the same is true for Integrations Designer and its predecessor WebSphere Integration Developer. Processes designed in the Process Designer are called Business Process Definitions (BPD), obviously these are “Lombardi“ BPMN processes. On the other hand, processes could still be designed in Integration Designer, this processes are now called Straight- Through Processes (STP) and are BPEL processes. Integration in the means of using services (processes) from one type of process in another is done via SCA and we will talk about this integration in the fallowing posts.

What is very important is the new shared runtime environment for all types of processes. BPD and BPMN share the same runtime called Process Server which is based on WebSphere Process Server. IBM process runtime environment now supports execution of the BPMN and BPEL processes.

For monitoring capabilities of the both types of processes Business Monitor is used. This is enabled with shared Process Server runtime that is emitting business events for Business Monitor. While for Business Rules one product is used for whole platform and that is ILOG JRules. It is integrated into Process Designer and Integration Designer.

IBM BPM Platform Overview

What is praiseworthy is that backward compatibility will be maintained with easy migration of existing solutions. It was stated that no changes has been made to the execution engine. We all hope that this will work well.

To quickly summarize in practice there is not so lot of changes to the look and feel of the products. They have been renamed and integration capabilities have been implemented to seamlessly work with other products in the platform.

In the fallowing blog posts we will further investigate what is new in IBM Business Process Manager 7.5 on the areas of:

  • Platform Configurations
  • Installation and Configuration
  • Business Process Shared Repository
  • Integration of Process Designer and Integration Designer
  • Business Process Versioning
  • Human Tasks and User Experience
  • Business Rules
  • Environment Migration
  • Registry Integration with ESB
  • Business Process Monitoring
  • Dynamic invocation

While doing that we will try to answer all the remaining questions.

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11 Comments for IBM Unifies BPM Platform

ram | May 26, 2011 at 7:30 am

This is great summary on IBM BPM. Thanks.

Using IBM Business Process Management 7.5 platform-SOA Competence Center | November 7, 2011 at 11:24 am

[…] present you a demonstration of capabilities of IBM’s latest platform for business management, introduced earlier this year, that includes tools such as Process Designer, Process Center and Integration Developer. In this […]

Business Process and Adaptive Case Management News and Information » Using IBM Business Process Management 7.5 platform-SOA … | November 7, 2011 at 6:24 pm

[…] present you a demonstration of capabilities of IBM’s latest platform for business management, introduced earlier this year, that includes tools such as Process Designer, Process Center and Integration Developer. In this […]

Is IBM overtaking Oracle in BPMN 2.0 race with release of BPM V7.5.1?-SOA Competence Center | November 18, 2011 at 10:18 am

[…] for media package you will need to wait until next month). This is the first minor release after IBM released unified BPM platform that we have introduced earlier this […]

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