Clash of the Java rule Titans
Blaze Advisor 6.1 gains speed, JRules 6.0 gains complexityFollow @infoworld
Fair Isaac Blaze Advisor 6.1
Blaze Advisor 6.0 and 6.1 are virtually the same except for one thing: speed. Unlike previous versions, Blaze Advisor 6.1 uses the Rete III algorithm that Fair Isaac obtained when it purchased RulesPower Technology last year. The speed increase, compared to previous incarnations of Blaze Advisor, is phenomenal. For example, Blaze 6.1 completed the Waltz DB 16 benchmark on my Windows XP machine (2.2GHz and 1MB of RAM) in 3.5 seconds, putting Blaze far ahead of JRules (88 seconds) but still a few steps behind OPSJ from Production Systems Technologies (1.6 seconds), still the fastest thing on the planet Earth. Take a gander at my benchmark results.
Blaze Advisor uses a form of backward chaining that uses a “when needed” flag on a rule as well as a “when changed” flag on attributes, helping to speed the processing of certain common problems such as configurations and resource management. In addition, Fair Isaac has built in score models for insurance applications, loan applications, and other financial problems. The rules can use either developer-centric dot notation or they can use regular English (or French or whatever language). As in JRules, however, these regular expressions must be added by the programmer during the development process. Blaze Advisor has always been one of the most friendly of the BRMS tools to business users, providing pleasant graphical development environments and understandable rule flow charts, decision tables, rule trees, and object models.
Reporting remains one of the best things about Blaze Advisor. Built-in reports will tell you anything about any object, rule, agenda stack, rule node, or anything else. You can report cross references between rules and objects, making it easy to see which objects are used by the rules, which rules use a specific object, and so on. Because Blaze Advisor uses standard tags, you can document author, version, exceptions, and virtually anything else you want to keep track of.
Blaze Advisor remains one of the better rule-management systems for the enterprise, combining a full-featured rule repository, business-friendly rule building, and reporting on almost anything that can be thought of by either the business user or the developer. Version 6.1, thanks to the incorporation of Rete III, now moves Blaze into the front of the pack in performance. GUI and language implementation could be better, considering the asking price. Fair Isaac should also make Blaze Advisor’s developer tools available as Eclipse plug-ins.
ILOG JRules 6.0
JRules 6.0 brings to the table a lot more “goodies” than earlier versions. For one, the BR Studio (formerly a downloadable freebie) is now part of the suite and works with Eclipse 3.0, IBM Rational Application Developer, and IBM Rational Software Architect. The Rule Team Server now allows rule administrators to assign various levels of responsibility, and control access to the rules themselves, based on user roles. The JRules Repository has been divided into two sets of rule repositories (one for business users and one for developers) that are kept in synchronization by the Rule Execution Server.
Permission levels are granular to such an extent that they can support multiple projects across large groups of developers and business users. You can set permissions for each individual by 11 different roles (such as modeler, programmer, knowledge engineer, or business analyst), with the permissions associated with each role being further subdivided into five or seven more levels.