If you missed the SOA in Action online conference last week, you can view replays of the presentations on the site.
There’s a presentation with Ken Vollmer from Forrester entitled “What is the relationship between BPM and SOA and why should you care?” that starts with the ever-present history of BPM, a topic that I’ve covered in some detail as well. At the BPM Think Tank in May, I wrote about his colleague at Forrester, Connie Moore, and how she showed a simplistic view of how BPM evolved from workflow, and talked about Vollmer’s equally simplistic view that BPM evolved from EAI. Now, at least, he seems to be singing the more comprehensive tune of how it evolved from both workflow and EAI (maybe they were reading my blog? 🙂 ). With the recent convergence of integration-focussed and human-centric BPM tools through corporate acquisitions, it’s hard to ignore this bigger picture.
He covers both business and IT drivers for BPM, including how many integration-focussed BPMS have SOA at their core. I have a bit of a problem with his slide #12 that shows a big “SOA” label around workflow, process modelling, BAM, business rules and a number of other things that clearly are not part of SOA, although they are certain to have services somewhere in their underpinnings — call it integration-focussed BPM, but not SOA. Aside from that, he gives a good overview of both BPM and SOA, and spends a bit of time talking about how SOA can help to facilitate development outsourcing. Of course, I also think that BPM can help to facilitate process outsourcing by removing location dependence at any particular step in a process, but he doesn’t mention that.
He then gets down to the meat of it — BPM and SOA together — and his key argument is that SOA provides a standards-based approach for implementing BPM. That true, but he totally misses what BPM does for SOA: SOA needs BPM to orchestrate the services into business processes that can include human-facing steps, and also to provide the more robust modelling, simulation and monitoring tools that are available in BPM suites. BPM is SOA’s “killer app”, the thing that will drive acceptance of SOA in the business areas and open up the business purse-strings needed to support this in the long term.
When it comes down to it, Vollmer is an SOA guy, and this was an SOA conference presentation. However, I think that if you’re going to talk about BPM and SOA, you shouldn’t just do it from an SOA perspective.