Exclusive: AquaLogic dives deep into the process pool
Fuego acquisition arms BEA with a potent BPM arsenal
Reforming enterprise business processes to boost productivity requires isolating pain points through steady focus on the myriad users, partners, customers, and applications proliferating an enterprise.
The latest silver bullet to enter the BPM chamber is BEA’s ALBPM (AquaLogic BPM 5.7) -- an already well-developed platform gained through BEA’s acquisition of FuegoBPM Suite earlier this year.
I found ALBPM offers process engineers the necessary firepower for targeting complex process flows with graphical, drag-and-drop development tools. Features such as good workflow and exception handling, including rollback and compensation, as well as strong dev time simulation features -- key to assessing KPIs (key performance indicators) early in the reorg cycle -- make this one kit with a caboodle of promise in tow.
Don’t be lulled, however, into false hope by the insulating promise of graphical BPM. This package demands a hefty amount of scripting -- done primarily in BEA’s proprietary PBL (Process Business Language). Although not a tough hurdle, it’s not without consequence -- and definitely not drag-and-drop.
And, as opposed to its competitors, ALBPM offers no direct connection with familiar external rules engines, which may be of potential concern in larger enterprise deployments.
BEA has begun reloading this suite with services features -- such as UDDI registry support and samples for integrating with the AquaLogic Service Bus -- and has enhanced dashboard functionality. Otherwise, most enhancements to this release are cosmetic.
Also, compared with human-centric products such as Appian, this package needs stronger workflow usability and on-the-fly rules creation mechanisms; it must also offer content management. But these are relatively minor foibles in an otherwise all-around strong product.
ALBPM makes a logical choice for multi-use case scenarios in which application integration and human event handling can be managed in a single package -- either as a stand-alone application or as part of a larger ecosystem.
And, as acquisitions go, this suite helps round out the grander SOA assault that BEA has been mounting on services platform supremacy. With ALBPM in BEA’s portfolio chamber, this may be the one silver bullet that eventually hits its mark.
Lock and Load
Getting started with both the Enterprise Standalone and BPM Studio editions was essentially an autonomous process with only minor configuration.
The Enterprise engine demands additional configuration for database and directory services requirements and comes in several flavors, including JVM, J2EE, and targeted BEA WebLogic and IBM WebSphere editions.
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