Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Harry Trott, Pat Romanski, Steve Wilson, Jason Bloomberg, Stackify Blog

Related Topics: Microservices Expo

Microservices Expo: Article

"The Backdoor" – BPM Solutions Pay

"I tend to like to go with technology because it makes sense"

People who know me would generally agree I'm a straightforward guy - I pretty much just like to move in the direction I've said I was going, rather than try to move from side to side and finesse something. So when it comes to technology, I tend to like to go with technology because it makes sense, and I usually assume that most IT organizations work that way as well.

But when you look at a technology like Business Process Management (BPM), you can see that the straightforward approach may not be the best, fastest, or even most successful route towards deployment.

BPM is a tougher sell on a straight technology basis, because it relies either on an SOA or an EAI environment that enables a service approach, and because the capabilities it provides have to date been implemented, albeit poorly, in actual code.

BPM as a technology extracts the business rules of an organization using advanced modeling techniques and software to define the business rules, the "what happens when" outside of lower level code. Besides allowing for rapid change in response to changing business conditions, BPM also allows the business community to take a much greater role in the definition of behavior within their software environments.

Clearly, this type of capability can be an asset to an organization that is confronted with frequent changes, dynamic market conditions, or even the consequences of a merger between organizations with disparate computing systems. Yet, because of the nature of the way IT projects are usually funded, this capability is frequently a difficult sell.

Most IT organizations have to fund their projects as discrete systems, therefore you can fund a CRM system, or an Order Management system, or a General Accounting system, even a User Portal. Each of these systems provides an "end user" benefit, one that can be easily quantified and budgeted for. BPM, by contrast, potentially cuts across all of these systems, while providing little visible or tangible benefit.

That's at least partially because funding a development effort and cost usually neglects the operational and maintenance cost of a system. These costs can often be multiples of the original implementation cost over the lifetime of a system. As an example, think of some of the COBOL programs that many large organizations have been nursing along for decades. Compared to the cost of creation, the maintenance costs are many times higher.

This is where the BPM solutions pay - they help reduce operational and maintenance cost. Anything that is programmed has to be tested to death, deployed, and managed. The model-driven architecture (MDA) approach seldom actually works all the way down to the code level and back again, so even if there is some modeling or design, it's typically only documentation when the coding gets done, allowing errors and omissions to creep into the process and creating troubleshooting nightmares.

In contrast, BPM presents the rules in a modeling environment that is completely round trip, and can be tested and debugged more effectively, especially in the difficult cases where a business transaction requires crossing system boundaries. We've all experienced the "he said, she said" finger pointing that goes on when a process that spans two or more systems experiences difficulty. BPM reduces cost by taking the management, the modeling, and the implementation out of multiple silo-based systems and centralizing the capabilities needed to effectively implement business processes rapidly.

It should not be surprising that the calculations necessary to quantify this benefit are convoluted and involved. They require analysis of maintenance and operations, as well as a good understanding of the actual software development life cycle in use in a particular organization - something that is seldom present. Thus while the technology clearly provides benefits, quantifying its value and justifying its cost remain elusive. In the end, the straightforward approach to the problem, which is simply stating the need for the capability, must give way to a more devious approach that builds the capability into the price of one or more system upgrades or packaged implementations.

More Stories By Sean Rhody

Sean Rhody is the founding-editor (1999) and editor-in-chief of SOA World Magazine. He is a respected industry expert on SOA and Web Services and a consultant with a leading consulting services company. Most recently, Sean served as the tech chair of SOA World Conference & Expo 2007 East.

Comments (2) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
Derek Miers 02/15/06 08:27:44 AM EST

Naive, ill-informed, confused ... just three of the adjectives that spring to mind while reading this piece.

There probably isn't a Fortune 2000 company that is not gaining significant benefits from the deployment of BPM technology. Mostly these projects are still in the mode of strategic experiment, but the evidence is plain for all to see.

Some of Sean's assertions are just plain wrong (like the bit about BPM code being poorly implemented), while others show a lack of understanding of the real issues and benefits.

Suggest you do a little more research next time before wading in to an area that you obviously have little contact with.

IMNSHO, SOA and BPM initiatives are fairly much joined at the hip. SOA is a "way of thinking" based around the notions of service orientation ... it allows an organisation to support the high level business capabilities that keep the firm in business, marrying that up to the low level technology and procedural elements.

OTOH, BPM is a business discipline that puts continuous performance improvement center stage in the way the firm is run. It involves a highly iterative approach to supporting the way systems are rolled out. From the perspective of this discussion however, BPM Suites provide the ability to orchestrate services in line with corporate objectives.

The ROI and business benefits are clear, making business justification relatively straight forward ... it just requires understanding of how those benefits transform into enhanced productivity, customer service, traceability and transparency.

Check out the papers on my site if you want an alternative view (or much of the material available on sites such as BP Trends, BPM.com)

SYS-CON Italy News Desk 02/14/06 07:19:24 PM EST

People who know me would generally agree I'm a straightforward guy - I pretty much just like to move in the direction I've said I was going, rather than try to move from side to side and finesse something. So when it comes to technology, I tend to like to go with technology because it makes sense, and I usually assume that most IT organizations work that way as well.

@MicroservicesExpo Stories
As many know, the first generation of Cloud Management Platform (CMP) solutions were designed for managing virtual infrastructure (IaaS) and traditional applications. But that’s no longer enough to satisfy evolving and complex business requirements. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Scott Davis, Embotics CTO, will explore how next-generation CMPs ensure organizations can manage cloud-native and microservice-based application architectures, while also facilitating agile DevOps methodology. He wi...
There are several reasons why businesses migrate their operations to the cloud. Scalability and price are among the most important factors determining this transition. Unlike legacy systems, cloud based businesses can scale on demand. The database and applications in the cloud are not rendered simply from one server located in your headquarters, but is instead distributed across several servers across the world. Such CDNs also bring about greater control in times of uncertainty. A database hack ...
These days, change is the only constant. In order to adapt and thrive in an ever-advancing and sometimes chaotic workforce, companies must leverage intelligent tools to streamline operations. While we're only at the dawn of machine intelligence, using a workflow manager will benefit your company in both the short and long term. Think: reduced errors, improved efficiency and more empowered employees-and that's just the start. Here are five other reasons workflow automation is leading a revolution...
We define Hybrid IT as a management approach in which organizations create a workload-centric and value-driven integrated technology stack that may include legacy infrastructure, web-scale architectures, private cloud implementations along with public cloud platforms ranging from Infrastructure-as-a-Service to Software-as-a-Service.
Docker is sweeping across startups and enterprises alike, changing the way we build and ship applications. It's the most prominent and widely known software container platform, and it's particularly useful for eliminating common challenges when collaborating on code (like the "it works on my machine" phenomenon that most devs know all too well). With Docker, you can run and manage apps side-by-side - in isolated containers - resulting in better compute density. It's something that many developer...
While some vendors scramble to create and sell you a fancy solution for monitoring your spanking new Amazon Lambdas, hear how you can do it on the cheap using just built-in Java APIs yourself. By exploiting a little-known fact that Lambdas aren’t exactly single-threaded, you can effectively identify hot spots in your serverless code. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Dave Martin, Product owner at CA Technologies, will give a live demonstration and code walkthrough, showing how ...
Did you know that you can develop for mainframes in Java? Or that the testing and deployment can be automated across mobile to mainframe? In his session and demo at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Dana Boudreau, a Senior Director at CA Technologies, will discuss how increasingly teams are developing with agile methodologies, using modern development environments, and automating testing and deployments, mobile to mainframe.
Cloud adoption is often driven by a desire to increase efficiency, boost agility and save money. All too often, however, the reality involves unpredictable cost spikes and lack of oversight due to resource limitations. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Joe Kinsella, CTO and Founder of CloudHealth Technologies, tackled the question: “How do you build a fully optimized cloud?” He will examine: Why TCO is critical to achieving cloud success – and why attendees should be thinking holistically ab...
As DevOps methodologies expand their reach across the enterprise, organizations face the daunting challenge of adapting related cloud strategies to ensure optimal alignment, from managing complexity to ensuring proper governance. How can culture, automation, legacy apps and even budget be reexamined to enable this ongoing shift within the modern software factory?
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo taking place Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 21st International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is ...
With Cloud Foundry you can easily deploy and use apps utilizing websocket technology, but not everybody realizes that scaling them out is not that trivial. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Roman Swoszowski, CTO and VP, Cloud Foundry Services, at Grape Up, will show you an example of how to deal with this issue. He will demonstrate a cloud-native Spring Boot app running in Cloud Foundry and communicating with clients over websocket protocol that can be easily scaled horizontally and coordinate...
Docker is on a roll. In the last few years, this container management service has become immensely popular in development, especially given the great fit with agile-based projects and continuous delivery. In this article, I want to take a brief look at how you can use Docker to accelerate and streamline the software development lifecycle (SDLC) process.
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to w...
In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Scott Davis, CTO of Embotics, discussed how automation can provide the dynamic management required to cost-effectively deliver microservices and container solutions at scale. He also discussed how flexible automation is the key to effectively bridging and seamlessly coordinating both IT and developer needs for component orchestration across disparate clouds – an increasingly important requirement at today’s multi-cloud enterprise.
IT organizations are moving to the cloud in hopes to approve efficiency, increase agility and save money. Migrating workloads might seem like a simple task, but what many businesses don’t realize is that application migration criteria differs across organizations, making it difficult for architects to arrive at an accurate TCO number. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Joe Kinsella, CTO of CloudHealth Technologies, will offer a systematic approach to understanding the TCO of a cloud application...
API Security has finally entered our security zeitgeist. OWASP Top 10 2017 - RC1 recognized API Security as a first class citizen by adding it as number 10, or A-10 on its list of web application vulnerabilities. We believe this is just the start. The attack surface area offered by API is orders or magnitude larger than any other attack surface area. Consider the fact the APIs expose cloud services, internal databases, application and even legacy mainframes over the internet. What could go wrong...
The goal of Continuous Testing is to shift testing left to find defects earlier and release software faster. This can be achieved by integrating a set of open source functional and performance testing tools in the early stages of your software delivery lifecycle. There is one process that binds all application delivery stages together into one well-orchestrated machine: Continuous Testing. Continuous Testing is the conveyer belt between the Software Factory and production stages. Artifacts are m...
In IT, we sometimes coin terms for things before we know exactly what they are and how they’ll be used. The resulting terms may capture a common set of aspirations and goals – as “cloud” did broadly for on-demand, self-service, and flexible computing. But such a term can also lump together diverse and even competing practices, technologies, and priorities to the point where important distinctions are glossed over and lost.
In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Kelly Looney, director of DevOps consulting for Skytap, showed how an incremental approach to introducing containers into complex, distributed applications results in modernization with less risk and more reward. He also shared the story of how Skytap used Docker to get out of the business of managing infrastructure, and into the business of delivering innovation and business value. Attendees learned how up-front planning allows for a clean sep...
Most companies are adopting or evaluating container technology - Docker in particular - to speed up application deployment, drive down cost, ease management and make application delivery more flexible overall. As with most new architectures, this dream takes a lot of work to become a reality. Even when you do get your application componentized enough and packaged properly, there are still challenges for DevOps teams to making the shift to continuous delivery and achieving that reduction in cost ...