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Red Hat polishes business process management suite

Joab Jackson | March 5, 2014
Thanks to its 2012 acquisition of Polymita, Red Hat has added major functionality to its software suite for managing business processes, making the package an appealing choice in the enterprise market for BPM (business process management) software.

Thanks to its 2012 acquisition of Polymita, Red Hat has added major functionality to its software suite for managing business processes, making the package an appealing choice in the enterprise market for BPM (business process management) software.

"Rather than building this stuff ourselves, we were able to leverage the technology from Polymita and bring this to market sooner," said Phil Simpson, Red Hat principal product marketing manager, of the new release of Red Hat JBoss BPM Suite 6. "Polymita brought a lot of technology that was very business-user friendly."

JBoss BPM Suite 6 integrates Polymita's BPM software with the company's own business rules management software, Red Hat JBoss BRMS, and its open source Java-based BPM engine, jBPM.

This release "is a big deal for Red Hat," said Carl Lehmann, a research manager covering BPM for 451 Research. Even when they were used together, BRMS and jBPM still lacked a number of crucial features in terms of providing full BPM capability, he said.

BPM software can automate organizational workflows than span multiple applications. In many cases, it can serve as an alternative to building a new application, by managing a process that involves different applications.

BPM found a home in many enterprises because it allows business managers to cobble together workflows without relying on the sometimes scarce resources of the IT department, Lehmann said. Companies such as IBM, Appian and OpenText's Metastorm all offer BPM suites.

JBoss BRMS provides a platform for defining business rules so computers can make decisions based on these roles. For instance, an automobile insurance company may have a set of rules for guiding how much to charge customers, based on their age and type of vehicle.

BRMS, and other business rules management software, minimizes the need to encode business rules directly into an application, which can be cumbersome to update should the rules change over time.

"Instead of coding everything in COBOL, which would be very hard for users to understand what the business rules are, you separate the rules from the application itself, and manage them independently of the application code," Simpson said.

The software acquired in the Polymita purchase brings a number of important features to the new BPM Suite. For one, it offers a much more polished user interface, making it more easily usable for business users.

The Polymita addition introduces more powerful BPM modeling capabilities for instance, which provide a graphical way for business users to understand how the processes work. It also offers business activity monitoring (BAM), which supplies a summary of processes in operation.

"Before Polymita, you could think of jBPM was more Java developer workflow with BPM-ish capabilities. Now we got a full BPM suite," said Pierre Fricke, Red Hat director of product marketing, integration and BPM. "It brings Red Hat on par with some of the more entrenched BPM suites."

 

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