Thursday, February 14, 2008

SOA and BPM: Too much Round Tripping?

A previous post  SOA & BPM referred the issue of bidirectional gateway between BPM modeling and BPM implementation. The build of updated model from changed implementation or vice versa could also be termed as Round Tripping.

Recently, I read an Industry Trends Report named "BRIDGING THE BUSINESS-IT DIVIDE IN ENTERPRISE CLASS PROCESSES" written by Bruce Silver Associates.

The trends report topic is BPM and its relationship to SOA. The report illustrates the difficulties of bridging between Business BPM Analysts and Information Technology experts and also between SOA type BPM based on BPEL and Human based BPM nased upon Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) OMG's standard. The Round Tripping of BPEL based execution and BPMN based modeling is another challenge.

Another issue analyzed is the requirement for bridging between Metadata model, Data model and Programming model developed by using different tool sets. The context of the report is limited to BPM and SOA, however bridging between Data model and programming model is not limited to BPM and SOA. It is an old and known issue, which is manifested in various ways, for example, in the O-R Mapping challenge in case of an Object Oriented Programming Model with a relational data base.

A major problem is the gap between Business and IT. Some consequences of the gap are usage of different tools and terms for Business people and IT staff. Bridging between the different tools resulted in another Round Tripping.

The second part of the report is about an innovative BPM tool M3O developed by Vitria.
Unlike, Second Generation BPMS, M3O eliminates the Round Tripping by usage of Web 2.0 technologies and wizards instead of improving the Round Tripping solutions.

Conceptually, the key for closing the BPM gap between IT and Business is abstraction: The abstracted layer is simpler and free from technical terms usage.

M3O architecture is similar to Human Centric BPM suites, but tries to address Enterprise SOA BPM processes unified with EDA and Human Centric BPM.
The key principles are:
  • Shared Repository for IT professionals and Business Analysts
  • Shared design time processes viewed partially according to roles.
  • No code generation and therefore no need for Round tripping
As code is executed probably it was created as part of the product and customized by
executing wizards.

My Take
Sharing artifacts instead of Round Tripping is viable option.
It reduces Complexity and error due to unsynchronized artifacts. On the other hand the ability of that architecture to support complex SOA and Human Centric processes should be validated. It also should be noted that Management and Governance of a shared repository is a challenge.

In my opinion a key question for assessing product without code generation or programing is: Is it capable of handling Complexity?
Addressing requirements of Enterprises with thousands users, hundreds systems and many complex processes will include such Complexity

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