Controlling Complexity via Process Views
As part of its research into business process management, IAAS has sought to manage the increasing complexity of processes, some of which are so expansive they resemble wallpaper, Mr. Schumm said.
“We have processes that are just too large. You have hundreds of activities," Mr. Schumm noted. “So where do you start when you want to understand this?”
For IAAS, the starting point has been exploring the use of process views as a way to help make complex processes easier to comprehend. By applying specific transformations to a process model, Mr. Schumm said, users are able to abstract key process details and present them graphically – in a process view.
The main purpose of these model transformations is to “filter out particular things,” Mr. Schumm explained. Some examples include summarizing to abstract process complexity, filtering to omit what is unimportant to the user, translating to support the user’s way of thinking, and linking to enrich the processes with the user’s data.
BPI Tool Illustrates Process Instances
To provide process views and accommodate a wide range of users, IAAS has developed the Business Process Illustrator (BPI). The BPI tool, Mr. Schumm said, provides users with graphical, Web-based views for monitoring process instances, showing various abstraction levels, visualizing performance, and highlighting process structures.
"When you have a process distributed in your platform and when you have different stakeholders who should have access to it, it should be Web-based," Mr. Schumm explained. "Various different abstraction levels make it changeable for each user."
The BPI uses scalable vector graphics (SVG) to produce process views that are rendered in the browser. As a result, Mr. Schumm noted, “The graphics have a very small footprint in size, and the actual process, which is costly, is working on the client. So your server will be able to have high-performance delivery for a large number of requests."
Integration with WSO2 Carbon
As IAAS continued to advance its BPM services and development, it sought an open source framework that would work with its business process illustrator. The institute found a natural solution with WSO2 Carbon.
The WSO2 enterprise middleware platform is open source, complementing the open source architecture of the BPI, Mr. Schumm said. Additionally, WSO2 provides a comfortable way to prototype research and make the results and prototypes related to enterprise systems research accessible to a broader public. Such fast proof of concepts would increase the impact of BPM research, which is typically two to three years ahead of the commercial market, he added.
Today, the business process illustrator is seamlessly integrated with WSO2 Carbon and bundled as a WSO2 Carbon feature, Mr. Schumm noted. To port its BPI to the WSO2 Carbon framework, the institute first developed a new process engine adapter based on Web services, which provided a connection from the BPI to the WSO2 Business Process Server within WSO2 Carbon.
Following the initial integration of the BPI, IAAS has a number of new projects planned, Mr. Schumm said. These include research into state projections across the borders of process models and languages, and research on graphical configurations featuring a loose coupling of process elements, graphics, and analytical data.
Mr. Schumm noted, "We always want to increase the impact of our research.”
To learn more about how IAAS is using the WSO2 Carbon platform in support of its business process research, view Mr. Schumm's full presentation here.