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Cordys BCP - True Collaboration SOA Web Services

Building collaborative systems at the business level

Building truly collaborative systems relationships between organizations is a daunting challenge in today's business environment. While technologies such as Web services have risen to assist, true collaboration requires a far greater set of functionality.

The Cordys Business Collaboration Platform (BCP) provides a set of components designed to address the challenges of collaborative systems relationships across disparate businesses. The platform comprises a set of components that provides the ability to deliver orchestrated applications in a services-oriented architecture. Cordys BCP is composed of:

  • Cordys Studio - The business process design component that provides for the modeling and design of business logic through a set of systems and applications.
  • Cordys Orchestrator - Provides the tools to coordinate business processes and functions across organizations. Some of its key functions include the handling of process implementation, monitoring and tracking, and persistence management.
  • Cordys Integrator - A component not unlike an EAI or ETL tool that provides the connectivity and transformation capabilities for communicating with existing systems.
  • Cordys Portal - The main user interface for applications created in the Cordys environment.
For the purposes of this review, I will focus on the Studio and Integrator components of Cordys BCP.

Working in Cordys Studio
Cordys Studio is the main development environment in Cordys BCP. It provides the environment used to model collaborative relationships between organizations in a top-down fashion, thus keeping the focus on business rather than on technology.

Three different types of models exist within the Cordys Studio environment:

  1. Value Chain Models: These models represent the highest levels of an organization and are used to illustrate its core business relationships. They are analogous to Use-Case UML diagrams for software development (see Figure 1).
  2. Business Context Models: The primary business function of an organization is represented in these models. They provide the basis for business process models and are in some ways similar to data flow diagrams (see Figure 2).
  3. Business Process Models: The lowest level of model for an organization, they describe discrete processes within a value chain and business context and they are the programmatic elements instantiated at runtime.
For the purposes of this review, I have created a fictional business - BBConsulting - that will provide services to clients utilizing resources from subcontractors.

Value Chain Models
Value chain units comprise value chain models in Cordys BCP. In the BBConsulting scenario shown in Figure 1, one unit represents the BBConsulting business while other units represent individual clients and subcontractors. These additional client and contractor value chain units are classified as business partners in Cordys Studio. Assuming BBConsulting is a healthy business, many value chain units are required to model all clients and contractors. To support large numbers of additional entities, Cordys Studio allows business partners to be categorized; in this case categories have been created for the client and subcontractor entities. The value chain model may then be composed of higher-level business partner categories, which provide for abstraction and generalization.

With the appropriate value chain units modeled, connectors are built between entities to represent the information flow between them. Finally, a View Point icon is placed above the BBConsulting value chain unit to identify the point of view of the model.

Business Context Models
The business context models define the primary business function of an organization and serve as the path between high-level value chain models and low-level business process models.

In the BBConsulting example modeled in Figure 2, the primary function of the organization is to deliver services to its clients. Service delivery involves incorporating and utilizing resources from subcontractors. All activities are supported by an account management function.

With the context model in place for BBConsulting, it may be linked back to the BBConsulting value chain unit in the value chain model. The end result is a definition of BBConsulting's business relationships and primary business function. Similarly, business context models are developed for and linked to the client and subcontractor business partner categories.

Business Process Models
Business process models are the lowest level entities within Cordys BCP. Modeled as flowcharts, they represent individual threads of activities that respond to certain business events. Process models contain the following basic components:

  • Start - The starting point or trigger of the business process. Processes may be spawned upon the receipt of a message, they may be scheduled, or they may be initiated manually
  • Activity - An activity is a set of actions that must be undertaken to achieve an intermediate goal within a business process. Either systems or users perform activities
  • Sub-Process - A container used to model nested business processes. These are useful for breaking processes down into reusable or independent components
  • Decision - Provides access to multiple pathways within a business process based on a defined set of criteria
  • End - The end point of a business process
Figure 3 shows the business process model for the Invoicing process of BBConsulting. The process is initiated every 30 days and performs the following basic tasks:
  1. Gather all Time and Expense reports
  2. Determine if all resources on a project have entered Time and Expense reports
  3. If any reports are missing, send a reminder to the appropriate resource and return to step 1
  4. If all reports have been entered, generate an invoice for the client
  5. Electronically send the invoice to the client

More Stories By Brian Barbash

Brian R. Barbash is the product review editor for Web Services Journal. He is a senior consultant and technical architect for Envision Consulting, a unit of IMS Health, providing management consulting and systems integration that focuses on contracting, pricing, and account management in the pharmaceutical industry.

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