IBM Launches New Business Process Software
Big Blue’s BPM goes through an evolution
IBM revealed new versions of its business process manager (BPM) and operational decision management (ODM) software at the IBM Impact conference last week in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Announcing and demonstrating the changes, Phil Gilbert, IBM Software Group’s vice president for business process management(BPM), said that the growth of emphasis on BPM forms the beginning of a new business architecture that, over the next 30-40 years, will define the next big battle in software.
“When an enterprise system that can represent process can interact this natively with disparate information sources,” said gilbert, “I think you will see that the agility that can be gained by moving into a BPM-centric enterprise architecture – as opposed to an application-centric enterprise architecture – is going to be a very interesting conversation. It opens up pockets of innovation and agility inside your organisations that today are stymied because of the roadblocks that big application systems put in your way.”
As it is today, IBM’s Business Process Manager 7.5 only saw the light of day last year at Impact 2011 when around 20 products were integrated into BPM 7.0. Similarly, later last year, Websphere Business Events and Ilog Business Rules Management products were melded into Operational Decision Management.
At the Impact 2012 announcement these marriages were effectively consummated with more-flexible user interfaces that hint at the degree of integration that has been worked on since last year’s announcements.
Under the covers, IBM has continued with its integration work by adding linkages into the Rational application development environment. Starting with Tivoli Identity Manager, IBM is also pulling Tivoli security workflows into BPM version 8 so that enterprise-scale processes can be developed and secured.
The company has also been working with its Master Data Management(MDM) team to embed BPM into the product so information maintenance workflows can be constructed according to business rules.
The Enterprise Content Management (ECM) division has also improved the existing interface between BPM with its Case Management product so that end-users can now see across these systems seamlessly. Content management interoperability services (CMIS) capability has also been added to allow access to unstructured data stored in other CMIS-compliant databases, such as Microsoft SharePoint, Alfresco, and EMC Documentum.
A key development is that BPM 8.0 processes now work seamlessly with SAP. “We are delivering the ability for the process designer to introspect SAP to represent those processes directly in our IBM Business Process Manager platform – and interoperate with SAP at a level that no other business process management system can do,” Gilbert claimed.
Alongside BPM, IBM’s ODM product is also seeing changes. These are mainly in the way that the business rules governing decision-making structures within a company are presented to the users. IBM has incorporated a social-media-style interface which not only simplifies the user experience but also offers the kind of environment that users are coming to expect of interpersonal communications.
Searching, viewing and making changes are much more intuitive, Gilbert said. When a permission is required to make a change to protected files or sensitive information, ODM will connect with the supervising officer with the correct level of access and permissions can be granted in real time, online using an instant-messaging dialogue format.
Gilbert did not give a release date for the products but last year when BPM 7.5 was announced it was available “by the end of that quarter” – which was around June/July.