#BRF Difference between CEP and Business Rules

This entry is part 13 of 24 in the series Business Rules Forum 2009

Mike Gualtieri of Forrester is leading the Breakfast with the Analysts session at the Business Rules Forum in Las Vegas.

Confusion between Complex Event Processing and Business Rules

  • Many solutions can be implemented with both approaches

CEP is a software infrastructure that can detect patterns of events from disparate live data sources.

Business Rules

  • Input: Single Payload of Data
  • Conditional logic expressed using multiple metaphors
  • Algorithm: Inferencing, sequential and extended sequential algorithms
  • Output: Data payload or external call

CEP

  • Input: Myriad of data sources all at once
  • Patterns and conditional logic using query or scripting language
  • Algorithms: Stateful pattern detection algorithms
  • Output: Myriad outputs or external call

CEP is unique because of temporal pattern detection… (Note: JRules and Drools actually support this too, but…)

Paul Vincent piped in to say that CEP engines are stateful and can be persisted and in case of failure, recovery is supported as opposed to rules engines which are stateless. (Note: Now this is where the main difference might lie.)

CEP Shines at 3 main things:

  • Detecting patterns and informing
    • Real-time BI
  • Detecting and reacting
    • Real-time trading
  • Event processing architecture
    • Business Process Orchestration

Choose Business Rules if:

  • No need for event correlation (time based)
  • Business Users need to author and maintain rules
    • CEP tools are not as evolved as BR tools
  • Note: I’m adding stateless (i.e. no need for stateful and recovery)

CEP and Business Rules can work together and complement each other.

He mentioned that he thinks that an Event Processing Architecture (EPA) is emerging from the SOA architecture.

Combined CEP and BR are emerging

  • CEP vendors can “poach” the Business Rules market
  • Business Rules Vendors can respond by adding CEP functionality
  • Business Rules and CEP is seeping into other products

His prediction: The future of business rules is CEP. He thinks that BPM is separate and will stay separate.

Good session, I’m not sure I agree with some of the information he presented, for example

  • The fact that CEP can process multiple streams stems from integration technologies which you can leverage around Business Rules Engines
  • He missed the stateful versus stateless brought up by Paul Vincent (which again in most cases stems from integration technologies)

but the ideas he presented were interesting and his prediction of seeing more convergence between those technologies makes sense.

#BRF Vendor Panel: BRMS at a crossroad?

This entry is part 12 of 24 in the series Business Rules Forum 2009

Carole-Ann Matignon of FICO, Scott Irwin of Convergys, Tom Debevoise of Innovations Software Technology and Russell Keziere of Pegasystems.

The session is moderated by Stephen D. Hendrick.

(IBM, JBoss, Corticon, etc. are not there… hmmm…) My notes are not verbatim from the people actually said, but is what I understood as a Gist.

SH: What is the single most important event that needs to happen now in the business rules market?

CAM: We need to understand what happened in the past, we did a lot of progress in the past. We see more analytics, but what we need to get right now is to get the right measurements, better KPIs, better exposed to the business so that you can adapt and improve over time.

RK: Anything that we can do to help visualize and forecast in a reasonable timeframe. Helping PM, Testing, scrum based iteration management. He agrees with CAM.

TD: Truly empowering with the Agility that they need for their rule changes (model, graphical views). Need to make the tools simpler, more intuitive. The technology is an enabler, but not the means.

SI: Rules are moving to the center of an architecture diagram. Being asked to marry Predictive analytics with the rules. More and more event requests as well.

SH: What needs to happen in the next 5 years?

CAM: Same as before. More adaptive systems.

RK: 5 years is a long time. In 5 years we won’t be thinking in application development. We see it with consolidation of the market. Convergence will be happening.

TD: Agrees with RK about the convergence. Need to go beyond the discussions on the specific algorithms. We may be missing the forest from the trees. Move towards Solving the problems from a Process view, event view, rule view.

SI: A number of specifications are evolving.

Audience: Legacy migration and reengineering the systems. What standards are being used or development from portability and interoperatibility so that I don’t build another legacy system

CAM: Many efforts in progress. For BRMS is OMG is working on PRR, but it takes time and very little involvement from customers so that the needs of the customers are more addressed.

RK: Agrees with CAM and talked about something from their products to help.

TD: (Not sure what his point was on that response… Sorry Tom.)

SI: It is key to get customer input because interchange is not high on vendors list of priorities.

Audience: (missed the question)

CAM: Business Rules are built for Agility. Inconsistency between conventional modeling and business rules approach but they can work together.

Audience: Invite vendors to listen to what customers need to resolve problems.

RK: Vendors do listen to their customers and make efforts to try and help resolve those issues.

TD: OMG in PRR is developing a standard modeling for rules similar to BP modeling, but a number of years away. Goal is to make it easy for BA to understand.

SI: Predictive Modeling has some standards, but the specs are slowly moving.

CAM: Reiterates that customers are not involved in standards development so is there a real need? Please help for standards developments

Audience: Social media?

CAM: Community has rolled out about a year ago. I,m a fan of twitter and other things like that.

RK: A couple of months ago we made an announcement about a “sticky note” that you can post and another can “catch”, etc. It is to simplify the process.

TD: Will describe in more detail tomorrow, they are working on “mediated event analysis” in their products.

SI: It is yet another channel for customers to interact. Possibly increasing revenue by mining the information that is out there.

Paul Vincent: What innovations will we see in the next 12-24 months?

CAM: Authoring and exposing the business rules in multiple representation (new kind of representations), managing the KPIs (equivalent to BAM) and how to get all these things working together to empower the user to have a mashup of functionality.

RK: Predicts that … (sorry missed that)

TD: Releasing mediated event service broker. Reverse of Web Service.

SI: Moving to thing integrations with Predictive Analytics, increase scalability and availability.

Audience: Industry Frameworks for rules?

RK: 60% of the business we do has a framework that includes rules. (…)

CAM: We have Best of Breed applications for a widespread set of requirements.

TD:

SI:

To me they did not answer the last question (to my liking anyway).

End of panel

#BRF An Evolutionary Perspective of BRMS Presentation

This entry is part 11 of 24 in the series Business Rules Forum 2009

Pedram Abrari of Corticon is presenting.

He started with a quick review of Ron Ross’ definition of business rule and then of some of the reasons why business rule engines came to be.

Shortcomings of first generation BRMS

  • Difficult to use
    • Proprietary programming languages
    • Complex engine algorithms
    • Proprietary rule development infrastructures
    • Specialized debugging techniques to get the rules right
    • The proposed solution: Model driven BRMS
  • Performance bottleneck
    • Deep expertise required for performance tuning
    • Architectural performance ceiling: “Rete wall”
    • The proposed solution: DeTI Algorithm

He then explained the “declarative vs procedural” paradigm and basically said that business rules need to be declarative. Then he discussed the first generation of expert systems evolved from expert systems and that these might not be well suited for general-purpose business rule automation.

Based on a paper from Forrester Research “The truth about business rules algorithm”.

First Generation BRMS:

  • Inferencing algorithms
    • Has authoring flexibility but possible performance issues
  • Sequential algorithm
    • Less authoring flexibility with better performance

Second Generation BRMS

  • Extended sequential algorithms
    • Authoring flexibility with performance
    • Deployment-Time Inferencing, high performance, scalable inferencing

He defined inferencing as the fact that rule engines determine the sequence of rule processing based on rule logical dependencies, allowing more rule authoring flexibility.

Rule engines typically perform two types of iteration

  • Fact iteration (95% of business decision on require fact iteration)
  • Logical loop iteration (rule recursion)

He then performed a short demo of a simplified version of Miss Manners (the benchmark) to explain some of the principles behind “sequential algorithms” and “inferencing algorithms” (and the extended sequential algorithm).

He then covered the evolution of the first generation rule engines from very technical to the additions that have been added since then such as natural language, decision tables, etc.

He also covered some potential problems of first generation rule engines. And obviously he shows how Corticon’s tool solve all these problems.

To me putting down algorithms used by other very successful rule engines to show that your approach might be better might not be the best approach to getting your point across. If the next generation rule engines are about modeling the rules in a new way, then it should be presented as such.

#BRF Enabling Effective Business – IT Collaboration Presentation

This entry is part 10 of 24 in the series Business Rules Forum 2009

Rik Gerrits, Colleen McClintock and Linda Nieporent are presenting.

Business Rules Management Contexts

  • Corporate artifact (policies and regulations, publications, regulatory compliance)
  • Requirements artifacts (application independent and application specific
  • Executable code

BRM at the corporate level is for the sake of the business, of, by and for the business, independent of hardware and software and of a specific solution.

Requirements are for the sake of systems and applications, of, by, and for the Analysts. The requirements are global or specific to the application.

Execution is expressed in a way that a rule engine can interpret, validate and execute. It is for IT people. Always in the context of a specific solution.

The first part of the presentation move very slowly. It was not providing a lot of new information since the main goal of it was to highlight what functionality you would be needed by a system to manage rules in the 3 contexts that they presented. It sounded like a setup for a marketing presentation to show that RuleArts’ RuleExpress tool provides.

The presentation turns out to be a demo of an integration that RuleArts did with JRules. The customized some of the information that is visible in RuleExpress and extended properties in JRules so that in Team Server you can see some information that comes from the RuleExpress. Interesting integration, but still has flaws.

Some of the flaws that come to mind:

  • You end up with 2 repositories
  • There is no synchronisation of the models (vocabulary and BOM)

I guess the main point they made is that chances are that in an organization you will have multiple representations of rules and that to support that you can create tools that allow synchronization between those different tools and that this integration is one way to help business and IT collaboration.

I just wish I had known it would simply be a demo of the integration and that there would not be much (not as much as I was hoping for) other added value in the presentation.

#BRF Enabling Effective Business – IT Collaboration Presentation

This entry is part 9 of 24 in the series Business Rules Forum 2009

Rik Gerrits, Colleen McClintock and Linda Nieporent are presenting.

Business Rules Management Contexts

  • Corporate artifact (policies and regulations, publications, regulatory compliance)
  • Requirements artifacts (application independent and application specific
  • Executable code

BRM at the corporate level is for the sake of the business, of, by and for the business, independent of hardware and software and of a specific solution.

Requirements are for the sake of systems and applications, of, by, and for the Analysts. The requirements are global or specific to the application.

Execution is expressed in a way that a rule engine can interpret, validate and execute. It is for IT people. Always in the context of a specific solution.

The first part of the presentation move very slowly. It was not providing a lot of new information since the main goal of it was to highlight what functionality you would be needed by a system to manage rules in the 3 contexts that they presented. It sounded like a setup for a marketing presentation to show that RuleArts’ RuleExpress tool provides.

The presentation turns out to be a demo of an integration that RuleArts did with JRules. The customized some of the information that is visible in RuleExpress and extended properties in JRules so that in Team Server you can see some information that comes from the RuleExpress. Interesting integration, but still has flaws.

Some of the flaws that come to mind:

  • You end up with 2 repositories
  • There is no synchronisation of the models (vocabulary and BOM)

I guess the main point they made is that chances are that in an organization you will have multiple representations of rules and that to support that you can create tools that allow synchronization between those different tools and that this integration is one way to help business and IT collaboration.

I just wish I had known it would simply be a demo of the integration and that there would not be much (not as much as I was hoping for) other added value in the presentation.

#BRF Business Rules enhance agility in BPM presentation

This entry is part 8 of 24 in the series Business Rules Forum 2009

Dr. M. A. Ketabchi is presenting. He covered a quick definition of BPM.

The classic BPM Cycle:

  • Model
  • Execute
  • Monitor
  • Improve

Key Values of BPM

  • Visibility
  • Agility
  • Efficiency
  • Business Empowerment

The Roles of rules in Business Process Management

  • Smart performer
  • Intelligent work allocation
  • Intelligence decision support (BRMS)
  • Smart forms (Dynamic Forms)
  • Real-time business applications (CEP)

BPM Usage Patterns that need rules

  • Decision Centric
  • Event Centric

BPM benefits from Integrated Rule Functionality

  • Agility
    • Rules can change dynamically independently from processes
  • Simplicity
    • Expressing declarative logic is process solutions with rules simplifies process solutions
  • Ease of Automation
    • Most business solutions required both procedural and declarative logic
  • Real-time Interoperations
    • Event rules can correlate events from multiple sources in real time

There are 2 approaches at providing BPM and BRM functionality

  • BPM in a Rule Language (one cannot be used and changed without the other such a PegaSystems)
  • Integrated BPM and BRM (both functionality are available and integrated out of the box) This is the approach that Savvion takes so only that one will be detailed in this presentation.
    • Rules can be developed, tested, managed independently of process
    • Ability to change rules at different time independently of processes (isn’t that the same as the first one??)
    • Same rules can be shared by multiple processes

Concluding remarks;

  • BPM suites require different types of rule functionality
  • Data and event driven rules support is critical

The presentation almost lost my interest when they started talking about the Savvion product and functionalities right at the beginning. It felt like it was going a marketing presentation. Luckily that lasted only a couple of minutes.

From that presentation (and other discussions that happened last week and this week) it seems that there seems to be more and more convergence between Business Rules, CEP and BPM.

#BRF BPM, Collaboration and Social Networking Presentation

This entry is part 7 of 24 in the series Business Rules Forum 2009

Sandy Kemsley (www.column2.com) is speaking about BPM, Collaboration and Social Networking at the Business Rules Forum in Las Vegas.

How do you bring Enterprise 2.0 in BPM. A few years ago, Sandy had talked about how BPM and Enterprise 2.0 would integrate a couple of years ago. Some of her predictions became real, some didn’t.

She did a quick review of what BPM is and what is in a BPMS.

What is Web 2.0

  • Consuming-facing social software (facebook, gmail, youtube, etc.)
  • Software as a service
    • For example: Google Apps.
  • Harnesses collective intelligence through user-created content
    • For example blogs or twitter
    • Create content with very low barriers
    • It is valuable because the conversation is taking place with people in different places around the world
  • Lightweight development models permit mashups (composite applications)
    • Allows taking bits and pieces from different places and put them together. Some combinations were not necessarily planned, but the flexibility of the APIs allows their pairing.

Web 2.0 Examples:

  • Gmail: rich interface and constantly upgraded feature sets
  • Wikipedia: content contributed by many authors
  • Google Maps: open API allows combining with many other web apps

All the knowledge is in the enterprise and the ability of capturing that information is invaluable by leveraging social software in the Enterprise 2.0.

Business Purpose of Social Software in the Enterprise 2.0:

  • To strengthen weak ties with people in a company or with customers and partners.
  • Social production to collaboratively produce content

There are now software that allow companies to provide that functionality within the enterprise instead of going to Software as a Service. For example, IBM uses something called “Beehive” internally to strengthen connections within the company. As a another example, the US Intelligence community is using a wiki type software to gather intelligence information.

Organizations need to have a cultural shift to allow people to leverage these social technologies in the Enterprise.

The drivers for BPM and Enterprise 2.0 are:

  • Users expectations are changing
  • Trends towards greater collaboration
  • There is a lack of agility in many current BPMS implementations

3 manifestations of collaboration in BPM

  • Collaborative process modeling
    • Multiple people participate in discovery and modeling of processes
    • Capture “tribal knowledge”
    • Internal and external participants
    • Technical and non-technical participants
    • Examples: Lombardi Blueprint, SAP Netweaver BOM with Google Wave
  • Collaborative process execution
    • User can “step outside” a structure process and create ad hoc collaboration
    • Audit trail and artifacts captured within BPMS audit log
    • Eliminates uncontrolled (unaudited) e-mail processes
    • Examples: HandySoft, ActionBase
  • BPM and Social Networking
    • External communities of practice (or centers of excellence)
      • Example: IBM Blueworks, Appian Forum, SOftware Ag Alignspace
    • Internal discussion forums and collaboration linked to specific process models or instances within the BPMS
      • Examples: Appian, Global 360

Impacts of Social Networking with BPM

  • Social and Cultural Impacts
    • The Business needs to commit resources and “bless” that approach
    • IT must allow business to participate
    • Users must feel comfortable getting away from their previous way of working
  • Technological Impacts
    • Standardized feeds for repurposing data. Let the user customize the information they see.
    • Instant messaging or microblogging for process alerts
    • Rich user interfaces eliminates desktop installation
    • User-created “mashups”
  • Economic Impacts
    • Shift from (perceived or actual) high BPMS costs to lower-cost alternatives
    • Rich Internet Application and lightweight development models lower development costs
    • Software as a service BPMS lowers capital costs

Barriers to adoption of Enterprise 2.0 and BPM

  • Perceived loss of control over processes (needs cultural change)
  • Lack of understanding and trust in lightweight development models and tools
  • Risk of data loss or security breach with SaaS BPMS
    • Sandy says that she uses SaaS for her business and after doing a due diligence you need to trust that the vendor is spending more time and money making sure that this won’t happen. If they don’t do that, they will loose your business.

The Future (is already here)

  • Many BPMS vendors incorporating some Enterprise 2.0 functionality
  • These are facilitating change in BPM

The Future

  • Tagging or bookmarking of instances of process
  • IM or other synchronous communication integrated
  • Goal-oriented process responsibility from management to knowledge workers

Very interesting presentation that shows us where things are and where they are going as far as the social networking tools and BPM. I think a lot of that can be extrapolated to topics that go beyond BPM.

The slides will be available on her blog shortly.

#BRF Making Better Decisions in the Face of Uncertainty Keynote

This entry is part 6 of 24 in the series Business Rules Forum 2009

Jim Sinur is giving the keynote at the Business Rules Forum in Las Vegas this morning.

When software spending increased about 3% in a down time, in BPM the increase was over 23%. This indicates that BPM saves money.

Change is constant, not a variable. Signs from the market and economic factors, customers and vendors are warning signs.

Current organizational models for exception planning has anticipated exceptions and unanticipated exceptions. Anticipated exceptions are sometime recognized and we react to them. Unanticipated exceptions have no plan and are reacted upon through gut feel.

CEP involves one order of magnitude or two more information than what companies currently deal with.

Companies can’t keep looking at what was happening in the past. They have to look forward by identifying patterns in the information we have available. We need to look for patterns in people, information and processes.

What can you do?

  • Seek patterns that may have a positive or negative impact on your strategy
  • Model Pattern Impact on Strategy and Operations
  • Adapt. Decide and execute change

4 disciplines needed for pattern based strategy:

  • Pattern seeking
  • Operational tempo Advantage to improve an organization reaction time
    • Empower people
    • Coordinate Processes
    • Share information
  • Performance Driven culture
  • Transparency

Partial (because I couldn’t write them all) List of Technologies to support the Seek-Model-Adapt:

  • Seek
    • Predictive Analytics
    • BI “on steroids”
    • CEP
    • Decision management
  • Model
    • Critical Path modeling
  • Adapt
    • Business Rules Management
    • Business Process Management
    • Business Activity Monitoring

#BRF Using Business Analysis Tutorial

This entry is part 4 of 24 in the series Business Rules Forum 2009

Kevin Brennan is leading a tutorial about Business Analysis.

He introduced the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA at theiiba.org) as a relatively young organization for Business Analysis.

Business Analysis is:

  • Analysis is
    • Taking a thing, breaking it into its components parts to build a useful model of the organization.
  • About a Business
    • (no kidding!) 🙂

The value of Business Analysis

  • Understanding
    • how an organization works
    • why it exists
    • what are its goals and objectives
    • how it accomplishes those objectives
    • how it needs to change to better accomplish objectives or to meet new challenges
  • It’s about
    • meeting business needs
    • ensuring investment in the right solutions

The IIBA create the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK) reference. A lot of the contents relates to the PMBOK and it shows that there needs to be a relative closeness between the Project Manager and the Business Analyst.

The Body of knowledge relates to:

  • BA Planning and Monitoring
  • Elicitation
  • Requirements Management and Communication
  • Enterprise Analysis Structure
  • Requirements Analysis Structure
  • Solutions Assessment and Validation

Underlying competencies that are required (the slides were more detailed, but the main categories were):

  • Analytical Thinking and Problem Solving
  • Behavioural Characteristics (ethics, personal organization, trustworthiness)
  • Business Knowledge
  • Communication Skills
  • Interaction Skills
  • Software Applications

Core Business Model of an organization that a BA must work on:

  • Decisions and Rules
  • Tasks and Processes
  • Roles
  • Concepts and Relationships
  • Events

The presentation then covered other topics, looked at some numbers used to prompt the topics of discussion, all of it very interesting but which I thought was difficult to blog about properly. Good presentation overall.

My takeaways from that session:

  • I got a quick overview of the contents of the BABOK
  • I have a better understanding of the competencies that a BA should have

#BRF Capturing Business Rules Tutorial

This entry is part 3 of 24 in the series Business Rules Forum 2009

Gladys S.W. Lam is leading a tutorial about capturing business rules.

Some key concepts about business rules.

  • Built on Terms and Facts
  • Grouped by Decisions
  • Expressed in Business Rules Statements or Decision Tables
  • Applicable as explicitly indicated by stated Criteria
  • Managed by retaining elements of Traceability

They separate rules into governing, practicable and automated rules. Each level can be looked at for business processes and “know-how” rules.

The presentation then covered the methodology that they propose (Proteus which is available to download on the Business Rules Solutions web site).

These questions allow you to start capturing the rules:

  • What – Structure: Fact Models & Concept Catalog – Rules: Consistency
  • How – Transformation: Business Process Model – Rules: Calculations & Transformations
  • Where – Geography: Business Connectivity Map – Rules: Transport & Linkage
  • Who – Interaction: Organizational Work Model – Rules: Organizational Interactions
  • When – Time: Business Milestones – Rules: Timing & Intervals
  • Why – Motivation: Policy Charter – Rules: Exceptions & Priorities

Using facilitated sessions for rule capture. Success factors for facilitated sessions are:

  • Having the right people in the room
  • A lot of preparation is required

Procedures to use facilitated sessions:

  1. Prepare for requirements gathering sessions
  2. Conduct requirements gathering facilitated sessions
  3. Analyze and document business model
  4. Prepare for detailed business rule analysis
  5. Conduct business process rule facilitation session
  6. Analyze and document business process rules
  7. Capture business know-how rules

To define scope, use the six questions: what, how, where, who, when, why. If any answer changes as you are working, that is indicating scope creep.

The presentation then went into some details of the approach and showed how it can be applied.

My takeaways from this session:

  • This information can be used as a starting point for educating people working on a rules project
  • Using that methodology might give a bit more structure to the work I already do with customers