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Understand ESBs when implementing BPM

 Business Process Management (BPM) implementers need to consider the varied ways existing enterprise service buses (ESBs) use to communicate, according to Gartner analyst Roy Schulte.  Just as BPM suites have proliferated, so, too, have ESBs, in Roy Schulte’s estimate. Such added system diversity may be hard to avoid, but effects may be lessened, he said, if BPM architects can create management dashboards that roll up business activity into a unified view.

The ESBs, he said, speaking at the Gartner BPM Summit 2010 in Las Vegas, provide the plumbing – the all-important integration-related aspects of a SOA-based BPM system. This is infrastructure now frequently used when pursuing projects to obtain business process improvement.

What an ESB brings to business process management is connectivity – the organizing of how interactions between different parts of an application take place, he said. As applications become more highly distributed, such ESBs are fielded more and more.

Many of these ESBs underlie the packaged applications and application servers connected in modern corporations. The abundance of ESBs in effect leads to Yet Another Platform (YAP) for the BPM implementer to consider.

“If we had one ESB across an entire company, then we would have consistency. But most people can’t get there,” said Gartner’s Schulte. “You can make everything work but it takes work.”

That each individual ESB supports a variety of communications methods is an added issue with which application development teams must deal, after the enterprise’s BPM marching orders are set.

Almost all ESBs implement Message-Oriented Middleware, Web services or Web REST services, noted Schulte.
Greater use of MOM may be due to a serious slowdown in Web services standards, he suggested.

“The forward progress now is very, very slow. [Web services] standards have pretty much stopped in terms of their evolution. So we may instead find people looking at JMS and AMQP, he said, referring to two popular messaging methods found in many ESBs.

Schulte suggested that Business Activity Management systems that roll up diverse processes will ultimately be the level at which the most important integration occurs. What is going to bring unity? One dashboard that gives visibility to the whole, says Schulte. He gave examples of vendors who offer BAM dashboards that bring visibility into operations across the board. These included SL Corp., Progress Apama, Software AG, and UC4.

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