Alexander Dreiling recently published a Gravity – Collaborative Business Process Modelling and Application Development entitled “Gravity – Collaborative Business Process Modeling and Application Development” in which he describes the latest version of SAP’s Collaborative BPM tool – Gravity. New is that the tool can also be used for application development. Even more interesting is the fact that the processes can now be deployed in the cloud. This means that a cloud-based BPM runtime engine may be involved.
Note: I have no idea how the tool functions internally, so I’m making an assumption. Although the presentation describes this as “application deployment in the cloud”, this also requires some sort of a process engine.
Take a look at the screenshot (at 6:47 during the screencam) below which shows deployment of the process model plus application components to the cloud.
A cloud-based deployment model has a variety of serious / interesting ramifications:
- What is the relationship of a cloud-based Gravity to an on-premise SAP NetWeaver BPM tool? How are the two related as products? What are the use cases for each environment? Alexander suggests in his blog that this new tool that non-standardized processes are the focus: ” As we can see, in particular for small processes around the edges of more standardized processes that are not usually supported through ERP or other means Gravity can be used as an alternative” I’d be really curious to see if the BPMN model (which might include UI information) could still be imported into the SAP NetWeaver BPM environment.
- What about interaction with non-UI process components. In the screencam, there are just UI task steps that are included. What happens when a task requires an Enterprise Service?
- There is also the suggestion that Gravity could be used for processes that exist outside of the corporate IT and outside of process governance: “Obviously, Gravity does not target the design of mission critical high-volume processes, but rather low-volume or one-off processes that typically occur in smaller organizations at the edges of more standarized processes. For such processes, a classical implementation through an IT department is usually prohibitively expensive. Still, people require some degree of automation so they can focus on their really important tasks.” So, the focus is on Barely Repeatable Processes.
- Interactions with other processes that exist behind the firewall aren’t described but could be important.
- Process monitoring isn’t described or how to deal with processes that are stuck or have exceptions. Ideally, this environment could also be monitored with existing SAP infrastructure tools (SolMan?)
Obviously, this version is still in an early development stage. Still, I’m excited to see that SAP is examining the cloud not only as an environment to design processes but also as a runtime environment. There are a variety of existing players in the same market. I’m curious to see how they respond.