WebSphere BPM Product Portfolio Technical Update

The keynotes sessions this morning were typical “big conference”: too much loud music, comedians and irrelevant speakers for my taste, although the brief addresses by Steve Mills and Craig Hayman as well as this morning’s press release showed that process is definitely high on IBM’s mind. The breakout session that I attended following that, however, contained more of the specifics about what’s happening with IBM WebSphere BPM. This is a portfolio of products – in some cases, not yet really integrated – including Process Server and Lombardi.

Some of the new features:

  • A whole bunch of infrastructure stuff such as clustering for simple/POC environments
  • WS CloudBurst Appliance supports Process Server Hypervisor Edition for fast, repeatable deployments
  • Database configuration tools to help simplify creation and configuration of databases, rather than requiring back and forth with a DBA as was required with previous version
  • Business Space has some enhancements, and is being positioned as the “Web 2.0 interface into BPM” (a message that they should probably pass on to GBS)
  • A number of new and updated widgets for Business Space and Lotus Mashups
  • UI integration between Business Space and WS Portal
  • Webform Server removes the need for a client form viewer on each desktop in order to interact with Lotus Forms – this is huge in cases where forms are used as a UI for BPM participant tasks
  • Version migration tools
  • BPMN 2.0 support, using different levels/subclasses of the language in different tools
  • Enhancements to WS Business Modeler (including the BPMN 2.0 support), including team support, and new constructs including case and compensation
  • Parallel routing tasks in WPS (amazing that they existed this long without that, but an artifact of the BPEL base)
  • Improved monitoring support in WS Business Monitor for ad hoc human tasks.
  • Work baskets for human workflow in WPS, allowing for runtime reallocation of tasks – I’m definitely interested in more details on this
  • The ability to add business categories to tasks in WPS to allow for easier searching and sorting of human tasks; these can be assigned at design time or runtime
  • Instance migration to move long-running process instances to a new process schema
  • A lot of technical implementation enhancements, such as new WESB primitives and improvements to the developer environment, that likely meant a lot to the WebSphere experts in the room (which I’m not)
  • Allowing Business Monitor to better monitor BPEL processes
  • Industry accelerators (previously known as industry content packs) that include capability models, process flows, service interfaces, business vocabulary, data models, dashboards and solution templates – note that these are across seven different products, not some sort of all-in-one solution
  • WAS and BPM performance enhancements enabling scalability
  • WS Lombardi Edition: not sure what’s really new here except for the bluewashing

I’m still fighting with the attendee site to get a copy of the presentation, so I’m sure that I’ve missed things here, but I have some roundtable and one-on-one sessions later today and tomorrow that should clarify things further. Looking at the breakout sessions for the rest of the day, I’m definitely going to have to clone myself in order to attend everything that looks interesting.

In terms of the WPS enhancements, many of the things that we saw in this session seem to be starting to bring WebSphere BPM level with other full BPM suites: it’s definitely expanding beyond being just a BPEL-based orchestration tool to include full support for human tasks and long-running processes. The question lurking in my mind, of course, is what happens to FileNet P8 BPM and WS Lombardi (formerly TeamWorks) as mainstream BPM engines if WPS can do it all in the future? Given that my recommendation at the time of the FileNet acquisition was to rip out BPM and move it over to the WebSphere portfolio, and the spirited response that I had recently to a post about customers not wanting 3 BPMSs, I definitely believe that more BPM product consolidation is required in this portfolio.

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