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From model to execution

Last year at TechEd in Las Vegas, Munich and Bangalore, we publicly lifted the covers on “Project Galaxy”, SAP’s venture to develop the next generation of BPM software. In a nutshell, this new BPM solution has the goal to support a model-driven approach to managing composite business processes throughout their lifecycle, enable both business as well as IT with a state of the art user experience in design as well as runtime.

Now, at SAPPHIRE 2008 in Orlando, as a first result of “Project Galaxy” SAP has announced the planned availability of “SAP NetWeaver BPM” and “SAP NetWeaver Business Rules Management (BRM)” as brand new components of SAP NetWeaver Composition Environment (CE), that will be shipped this year with SAP NetWeaver CE 7.1.1.

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Designing a Composite Business Process with the Process Composer

There are a number of benefits if you embedd a BPM solution within an Integrated Composition Environment; one of them is obviously that the design of a composite business process that orchestrates human as well as automated activities needs native access to the user interface (UI) as well as to web service definitions or, even better, to SAP’s Enterprise Services via the ESR browser or the service registry. SAP NetWeaver BPM’s process composer leverages Web Dynpro Foundation for the task UI assignment and assignment of service definitions (WSDL) to automated activities. With SAP NetWeaver BRM (based on the product formerly known as QuickRules by Yasu technolgies, a company which SAP had acquired in the fourth quarter of 2007), the process composer will also provide easy access to business rules, as, e.g., in the form of decision tables.

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The process composer is seamlessly integrated in the Eclipse-based design time of CE as a separate perspective and provides BPMN (Business Process Modeling Notation) process modeling capabilities.This notation  allows easy and intuitive process modeling both for Business Process Experts as well as developers in one common environment. The process composer will support all stages of process modeling from high-level definition of the process down to the enrichment for the actual development into deployment and execution. Life cycle aspects (versioning, transport, etc.) are fully supported through SAP NetWeaver Composition Environment. Notice that with the first release of SAP NetWeaver BPM, we will focus more on the developer role, but already received very positive feedback on the usability of the tool for business analysts.

SAP’s BPMN notation differentiates activities into human and automated activities. Those activities can be structured within nested processes (sub-processes). Human activities normally trigger tasks which are executed through end users whereas automated activities allow to execute web services and provide therefore full integration into SAP’s enterprise SOA enabled business applications.

As the process server (the ‘dark side’), a newly developed Java-based process runtime, executes after deployment the composite process, the process desk provides capabilities for business users to access, investigate and execute tasks assigned to them. The process desk leverages existing assets such as Universal Work List (UWL) as a first channel, others will follow. SAP’s UI technologies, such as Web Dynpro and Interactive Forms can be integrated for the end-user interaction within the modeled processes. Rapid UI prototyping capabilities will in future releases enhance and speed up the design and specification of process interaction components.

Embedded  Business Rules Management

Business Process Management and Business Rules Management have co-existed for many years – a process modeling & management experience that delivers automated decision making and business rules management as an integrated experience, however, is not that common today.

The Situation Today

Rule Engines and BPM systems can be integrated, but in a very loose fashion through service calls or direct java method call integration.

Business rules are organizational assets that will need to be managed and reused in a coherent fashion like any other asset as process models, organizational models etc. But because no standards exist in the rules space, BPM tools will have to rely on 3rd party rule management tools adding to increased administration and governance costs. SAP is dedicated to offer an integrated experience when it comes to managing processes and decisions in a logical, coherent and unified fashion.

Towards integrated  Business Process & Rules Management 

For SAP, the acquisition of YASU Technologies offered a perfect fit into SAP NetWeaver Composition Environment and the new BPM solution. A staged approach will integrate business process with business rule composition, execution and management:

In the first release of SAP NetWeaver Business Rules Management (BRM), we will focus on providing an Eclipse based rule composition capability that is tightly integrated with process composition (integrated design of process and rules), as well as a providing a “standalone” rules management capability externalizing business rules as re-usable assets (services) fo, e.g. Java-based development.

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 A roadmap of what we plan to deliver in future release will soon be available on the deicated SDN pages for Business Process Management and Business Rules Management.

As this blog is supposed to be a quick introduction to the topic only, we will from now on start publishing more detailed information on the tools, on usage scenarios and previews of  how-to-guides as well as sharing more information of what we learned from our design partners that provide us with valuable input and food for thought on the way ahead. So stay tuned, an watch out for my colleagues Greg Prickril (Lead Product Design), Rajgo Narayanan (Product Manager BRM), Donka Dimitrova, Jie Deng, Stephan Schluchter (Product Manager BPM).

If you are attending SAPPHIRE in Orlando or Berlin, join me and customers like Intel and Coca-Cola for a session on how early adopters made their first experiences with our new BPM capabilities.

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16 Comments

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  1. Kirill Lis
    Hello Thomas!
    Interesting post.
    Can you clear up how it will be integrated with SAP Enterprise Modeling Applications by IDS Scheer, if it will?
    Regards,
    Kirill Lis
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  2. Fredrik Glans
    Hi

    I also wonder how this will fit in with the products from IDS Scheer and what business value will the customer miss if they don´t go with the fullblown IDS Scheer version?

    And what is the strategy in the future?

    Brgds
    //
    Fredrik

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    1. Thomas Volmering Post author
      Dear Fredrik,

      SAP Enterprise Modeling Applications by IDS Scheer target conceptual process modeling and business process analysis (BPA). This relates to strategically planning the business process architecture (e.g., process maps) – SAP NetWeaver BPM targets “model-to-code” development of composite business processes. Today, these are still two different realms of managing business processes, or better say, disciplines. As you probably know, SAP is striving for a long time to align these two disciplines (practice and technology). Thus we have already tight integration of the ARIS environment with our core application reference content (via SAP Solution Manager for an implementation view on SAP applications and via the Enterprise Services Repository on Process Components and Enterprise Services). Towards BPMN 2.0 (we are currently working on it with other partners)we will open up the path from strategic planning to process composition, so that BPA tools as ARIS can leverage the lingua franca BPMN as well (given that BPMN 2.0 will feature a serialization format). For reference, please take a look at the blogs by my colleague Mark Scavillo where he describes BPM as a methodology https://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/sdn/weblogs?blog=/pub/u/251754001. [original link is broken] [original link is broken]

      Best regards, Thomas.

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  3. Purnend Maroju
    This trend of integrating the rule based engines to the BPM tools is really a revolutionary trend for business processes management. But I hope the flexibility to integrate to third-party Business rule engines will definitely gives an edge to the BPM tool, because of the myriad business scenarios comes under this umbrella. This greatly eases the business to converge decisions.
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  4. Purnend Maroju
    HI,

    This trend of integrating the rule based engines to the BPM tools is really a revolutionary trend for business processes management. But I hope the flexibility to integrate to third-party Business rule engines will definitely gives an edge to the BPM tool, because of the myriad business scenarios comes under this umbrella. This greatly eases the business to converge decisions.

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  5. Shalini Sabnani
    Hello Thomas
    Ecellent Post
    I had also participated in you Sapphire /ASUG(Orlando) session on this subject.
    I am working on bringing out the benefits of these tools for my Senior executives.

    Is there perhaps a Webex/Webcast of implementions done by Intel and Coca-Cola or maybe a generic Webex on BPM and eSOA which demonstrates the capabilities and brings out the  business value to our customers ?

    Thanks in advance
    Shalini

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    1. Thomas Volmering Post author
      Dear Sahlini,

      thank you so much for your comment and the suggestion of a webcast.
      Until we will do this, check out the following videos of presentations:
      Presentation with Coca-Cola in Berlin:
      http://www.sap.com/community/showdetail.epx?ItemID=13869
      Presentation of Wolfgang Hilpert, SVP BPEM Development in Orlando:
      http://www.sap.com/community/showdetail.epx?itemID=11665
      You might also take our roadmap document into account on the BPM homepage at SDN.
      Thanks and all the best,
      Thomas.

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  6. John Delaney
    Thomas, Thank you for your article. It is great to see these capabilities coming through.

    For organizations wishing to extend their NetWeaver business processes to include external customers and partners, MessageXchange.com provides full BPM, B2Bi and BI capability as an on-demand and remotely configurable hosted service.

    John Delaney
    eVision

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  7. Suryanarayanamurthy Ayyalasomayajula
    Hello Thomas

    I have gone through the Business Process Management Roadmap PPT on SDN.  From that it appears that Integrated BPM (with BRM embedded) enabled through the new CE with Process Composer/Server/Desk is one Building block and the ARIS for NetWeaver and Solution Manager is one Building block.

    In the case of ARIS for Netweaver, the processes are executed by importing them into the PI (SAP XI).

    In the new CE (7.1.1) enabled integrated BPM how are these processes executed, through PI only? 
    Can you please give more info on this?  Are there any modifications for BPE to take care of the processing laod/performance etc.

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    1. Thomas Volmering Post author
      hello Suryanarayanamurthy Ayyalasomayajula,

      as I wrote in my blog above – processes modeled in the Process Composer are deployed and executed by the Process Server. The Process Composer is part of the SAP NetWeaver Composition Environment’s eclipse-based design time, as the process server is part of the JEE5-based runtime (not the PI runtime). We do not translate BPMN in anything else (as, e.g. BPEL) but directly deploy BPMN to execution.

      ARIS (as also answered here below) is a modeling environment for conceptual process planing and documentation – not “model-to-code”. Yes, ARIS comes with a BPEL “diagram type” and we can exchange BPEL files with PI that supports standards-based import/ export – but after evaluating the use case with a couple of customers, I am a little bit reluctant to advice anybody of this roundtrip scenario with multiple repositories and different translations from one notation to another and then to an XML-file – I see lots of questions regarding versioning, change management in the lifecycle of such process definitions. (In other words: nice demos, but little supportability on enterprise level.) That’s why we do not really see our customers using ARIS as a development environment but rather a process documentation and analysis tool – SAP NetWeaver CE, however, is an integrated composition environment to build and execute composite business applications. Hope this helped to clarify?

      All the best, Thomas.

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  8. Group APO
    Thomas,

    Your article is excellent!
    I saw the new BPM tool (SAP NW CE 7.1 BPM) at Tech Ed in Berlin.
    How is it positioned compared with the existing PI ccBPM tool? Will BPM in the CE coexist with ccBPM, or is it the idea that BPM in the CE will replace ccBPM?

    Thanks,

    Bob Austin, Atos Origin

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