Friday, February 19, 2010

Composite Applications in Today’s BPM World

The demand for enterprise applications is definitely on the rise, and a business, in this day and age, can easily find a software package to address almost any aspect of the business. Solutions for facets like CRM, ERP, SCM, MRP, etc. are quite easy to come by, with a plethora of vendors trying to fill the existent marketplace. However, just as businesses strive to create their place under the sun, the same also applies to vendors of business solutions, and this has given rise to the integration of these solutions under a single umbrella.

The idea behind running composite applications is to move the focus from individual application development, to integrating them into a single unit instead. These applications also work in addressing the gaps between existing applications and creating solutions specific to specific tasks, allowing the business process to follow the steps laid by the solution as opposed to having users work as mediators in between different processes.

The Changing Facade

Solutions created using Business Process Management platforms differ from the solutions developed not so long ago, as BPM solutions deliver ‘process’ models and metadata mapping instead of delivering database instantiations and database models, as in the case of conventional solutions. Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) components now run completely independently, and human interaction/decision making is now a part of the entire automation process as well. This gives the end user the ability to configure/assemble components as required while also streamlining them with one’s existing web based services. Besides, by uniting the human workflow aspect with automation process, the overall workflow can be managed in a more effective manner.

One very important aspect of composite applications is that they generally do not aim at 100% functionality. This is simply because they come with a range of executable components which can then be sequenced as per the end user’s preferences. Instead of complete functionality, such solutions aim at dynamic assembly, flexibility, integration, and extensibility.

What to Expect

With more and more businesses making the required infrastructural changes, one can expect the ability of a BPM solution to enable composite applications to be one of the key components in a BPM implementation. You should also know that composite applications go beyond the realm of SOA, and various large businesses have already gone ahead and deployed various service enabled applications aimed at leveraging SOA in different forms. This also makes it important for such solutions to look at incorporating the various services/components that are being clubbed together.

The benefits are manifold; BPM enabled solutions can help streamline the business process, it can help bridge the business/IT gap, the integration capabilities help leverage on existing IT investments, it can help reduce operational costs, it can diminish business risks, it would be easy to implement; it would be a hastened process, and it would also allow both vertical and horizontal scalability. As a customer, before any BPM implementation, I would definitely ask the question… Does this BPM platform help me create applications rapidly and integrate easily with existing systems?

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