Usage Recommendations – NetWeaver BRM vs. BRFplus
Customers often ask us this question ” Which business rules offering do we use – BRFplus or NetWeaver BRM?”
SAP’s Business Rules Offerings, both NetWeaver Business Rules Management (NW BRM) and BRFplus get adequate attention and investments within SAP. Having said that, the decision on which rules offering to use for a particular use case is often non-trivial. It is based on the decisioning problem at hand. The choice of rule engine would broadly depend on a combination of the following factors:
- technology stack (execution environment) of the application
- the stack in which application data resides
- Features (such as rete rules and flow rules) required to solve the decisioning problem.
As a thumb rule, for best performance and integrated rule editing experiences, the recommendation is to use a rule engine that integrates deeply into the execution stack of business applications. Consequently, SAP provides two rule engines that seamlessly integrate with ABAP and Java stacks respectively. For pure ABAP stack use cases, BRFplus shipped with Business Suite 7 is the best suited while NW BRM is best suited for pure Java use cases.
For example, when a customer wants to leverage business rules in a Suite application or add flexibility to a Suite process, BRFplus would be the ideal choice. For customers creating composite applications and business processes using NetWeaver Composition Environment (NW CE), NW BRM would be the ideal choice.
However, often times the decision on which rules engine to use go beyond technology stack considerations and hinge on the requirements of a particular use case. We present five usage recommendations (fig 1) which can help in deciding which rule offering to use.
Figure 1. Usage Recommendations for SAP Business Rules Offerings
On the X-axis we have the rule engines, NW BRM and BRFplus on either sides and on the Y-axis we have the Suite core processes and composite applications (modeled processes) on either side. We have 4 quadrants representing usage recommendations.
Quadrant 1 (Custom developed Suite applications using BRFplus)
Quadrant 1 characterizes standard use cases where BRFplus is used to solve decisioning problems for custom developed applications, which extend the business suite functionality. Custom developed applications can externalize decisioning logic using BRFplus and improve the flexibility greatly. Since the execution environment and the application data reside on the ABAP stack, BRFplus is the natural fit in such cases.
Quadrant 2 (Custom developed Suite applications using NW BRM)
Quadrant 2 characterizes use cases where custom developed applications in the suite (read ABAP stack) use NW BRM for managing business rules. In such use cases:
- Applications often use rete rules or flow rules to solve decisioning problems.
- Applications interact with other Non-SAP systems in a heterogeneous landscape and the data for decisioning in spread across this landscape.
When applications in the ABAP stack use NW BRM, it is possible to make the usage transparent by natively connecting to NW BRM by using the BRFplus connector feature in BRFplus.
Quadrant 3 (Composite Applications using NW BRM)
Quadrant 3 characterizes standard use cases where composites developed using SAP NetWeaver Composition Environment (NW CE) use NW BRM natively. NW BRM is closely integrated with BPM and hence modeled business processes use NW BRM to solve decisioning problems.
Quadrant 4 (Composite Applications using BRFplus)
Quadrant 4 characterizes use cases where composite applications developed using NW CE as well as modeled business processes in BPM use existing business rules in the core suite applications designed using BRFplus. In these use cases, composites leverage existing rules in BRFplus by calling them as web services.
Quadrant 5 (Mixed Usage scenarios with both BRFplus and NW BRM)
In addition to “BRFplus only” and “NW BRM only” usage scenarios in the 4 quadrants, we increasingly see the need for mixed usage scenarios in which both BRFplus and NW BRM are used together in heterogeneous environments involving both SAP and non-SAP systems. Several use cases require business rules to be modeled in a “single place” and execute in both BRFplus and BRM within the same scenario.
In conclusion, the five usage recommendations presented here are for specific use case characteristics described above. Most of the customer use cases fit these quadrants. Hence, the five usage recommendations could well serve as a reference plane for making a decision on which SAP business rule offering to use.